THE SUN GATE
NOTE: As of recently, per government regulations, you can not hike up to the Sun Gate from Machu Picchu Citadel, so the only way to get to the Sun Gate NOW is through an Inca Trail trek: 1 day Inca Trail, Short Inca Trail or Classic Inca Trail 4 days.
What is the Sun Gate?
The Sun Gate (2,720 m / 8,924 ft), also known as Inti Punku, is a stunning viewpoint of Machu Picchu, located on one side of the Machu Picchu Mountain.
It is actually the first viewpoint of Machu Picchu for all the people that do the Inca Trails like:
- 1 day Inca Trail to Machu Picchu
- Short Inca Trail to Machu Picchu
- Classic Inca Trail to Machu Picchu 4 days
The history behind the Sun Gate
The Sun Gate or Inti Punku was a kind of control gate for people entering and leaving the Inca City of Machu Picchu. Because of its remote and strategic location, it is believed that Machu Picchu only welcomed guests from the elite of the empire.
It is a large place, with windows and doors supported by terraces. From the Sun Gate you can see the entire Inca City of Machu Picchu from the middle of the mountains.
How to get to the Sun Gate?
In the past, you would have been able to hike up to the Sun Gate from Machu Picchu. However, due to new government regulations, the only way to access the Sun Gate is via the Inca Trail Trek. All Inca Treks – whether its the 1 day or its longer variations – will pass the Sun Gate.
What ticket do I need for the Sun Gate?
As the Sun Gate is a guaranteed stop in all of the Inca Trail tours, you will not need to purchase a separate ticket.
How’s the Weather at the Sun Gate at Machu Picchu?
The climate in the region is generally warm and humid as it’s at the start of the jungle. Although it does get chilly overnight, so you’ll need a few layers for your hike up in the early hours of the morning.
Between May and October it’s the dry season and you can expect the sun to be very hot and for there to be no rain. From November to April there is a chance of rain, but the temperature is usually still warm. Beware that the trail may be a little slippery during this time of year.
Remember that Machu Picchu is at a relatively high altitude, and the sun gate even higher, so make sure you’re well prepared. You’ll need to be in good shape and have gone on hiked to practice back home. You need to spend 2-3 days in Cusco before you come to acclimate properly.
It may look like you can walk up pretty quickly, but it’s best to go slowly and pace yourself. The altitude can tire you out quickly and you don’t want to make yourself sick from walking too fast. It’s not a race, so go slow. Make sure you take a well-deserved rest at the top to recuperate and take in the spectacular view.
Is the Hike to the Sun Gate at Machu Picchu Worthwhile?
Without a doubt, the hike up to Inti Punku is well worth your while. For one, it costs nothing unlike the other two hikes inside the archaeological site.
You also get an incredible view from the top over the rest of the Inca citadel. You get a very similar sight to the one you get from Machu Picchu Mountain. It’s the entrance from the original Inca Trail, so you also get to see a bit of that.
Another reason we recommend this hike is that it isn’t as hard as Huayna Picchu, so is more accessible for people of different fitness levels.
Overall, we believe this to be a great hike and an excellent addition to your day at Machu Picchu.