Inti Punku, also known as the Sun Gate at Machu Picchu is an Incan ruin that’s located in the Cusco Region of Peru. Inti Punku means “sun gate” in Quechua—which was the language of the Incans. The Incans lived in Peru between the years of 1400 and 1533 CE. During this time, they built several pieces of architecture that still stand. Inti Punku served as the entrance to Machu Picchu—which is now one of the 7 wonders of the world. What is now referred to as, “The Sun Gate at Machu Picchu” was once protected by Incan military and dedicated to the Sun God.
Accessing Inti Punku, the Sun Gate at Machu Picchu is possible by foot. The hike begins in Ollantaytambo (located in the Cusco Region) and lasts about 7 hours in total. It takes about 3.5 hours to hike up-hill to the Sun Gate, and another 3.5 hours to hike down.
This guide will tell you everything you need to know about Inti Punku and will give step-by-step instructions on how to hike to this famous Incan Ruin.
Table of Contents
History of Inti Punku
A Brief Overview of the Inti Punku Hike
Hiking to Inti Punku—the Sun Gate at Machu Picchu, is a full-day event. The hike takes about 7-9 hours in total—that’s 3.5 hours up-hill and 3.5 hours down-hill. The extra time needed depends on how often you stop. There are several moments throughout the hike where visitors can stop and rest. Once visitors reach the Sun Gate, they usually like to eat a meal and relax before heading back down.
The up-hill part of the hike can feel grueling. The walk to the Sun Gate is about 85% inclined. The difficulty level is moderate—it helps if you’re in-shape while walking up the mountain. If you experience any difficulty while hiking, then stopping and breathing intermittently helps. The altitude of Inti Punku is about 2745 meters above sea level.
The hike itself is beautiful. For the first part of the hike, visitors walk along the Urubamba River. Once visitors reach the Sun Gate at Machu Picchu, they’ll see the mountain range in Cusco from a great vantage point. Snow-capped mountains are visible from the Sun Gate, which is a rare sight in the Cusco Region.
How to Access the Sun Gate Inca Trail
The Sun Gate Inca Trail is the path that you’ll take to get to Inti Punku—the Sun Gate at Machu Picchu. To access the trail, visitors must first go to the Plaza de Armas in Ollantaytambo. If you aren’t staying in Ollantaytambo then you can get there via ground transportation. The most common method of ground transportation in the Cusco Region is a colectivo. A colectivo is a van that’s shared amongst 20 or so passengers. Colectivo’s are available in every major town within the Cusco Region—including, Cusco City, Pisac, Urubamba, and Calca.
When you get to the Plaza de Armas in Ollantaytambo, walk to the Inca Bridge. The bridge is orange and green. You’ll see the entrance to the Sun Gate Inca Trail at the end of the Inca Bridge. Walk into the entrance, and then begin your hike.
Navigating the Sun Gate Inca Trail
What to Pack for the Hike to Inti Punku
The hike to Inti Punku—the Sun Gate at Machu Picchu is moderately challenging, so it’s best to be well prepared before you go. Here’s a list of things that you should bring with you on your hike:
- Good hiking shoes: shoes with a good grip are ideal, as you’ll walk up & down a steep incline at times.
- Water: Bring a lot of water with you on this hike. The altitude is steep, the hike is challenging, and it can get very hot depending on the time of year that you go.
- Food: This will be an all-day event. You’ll want to bring snacks with you that you can eat while you pause for breaks, as well as a lunch to have when you reach the Sun Gate.
- Comfortable Clothing & Layers: Comfortable clothing (such as yoga pants and a cotton t-shirt) will make a difference. Dress as comfortably as possible in clothes that allow for easeful movement. The temperature changes throughout the hike—switching from hot to cold throughout the day. Dress in layers so that you can acclimate to the change in temperature.
- Rain Gear: It can rain unexpectedly on the mountain, especially during the rainy season (from November to March). Bring a poncho or other rain gear to prepare yourself.
- Camera: Bring a camera with you! The views from the hike are incredible, and you’ll want to capture some memories.
Enjoy The Hike!
The Hike to Inti Punku—the Sun Gate at Machu Picchu was one of the most challenging and rewarding experiences of my travels. It’s not an easy hike but once you finish you’ll feel accomplished. The views of the hike are incredible, and well worth taking the trek along the Inti Punku Inca Trail.