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Intipunku in Machu Picchu
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Intipunku or Sun Gate at Machu Picchu

Tourists who make the famous Inca Trail have the first vision of Machu Picchu through the Intipunku. The name of this Inca construction comes from a Quechua word that means ‘Sun Gate’. All tourists can visit it with a walk of approximately 1 hour. It was the main door of Machupicchu in the Inca era.

This is the famous Intipunku

  • Intipunku or La Sun Gate is a name arbitrarily chosen by the discoverers of Machu Picchu who found themselves in need of establishing a nomination for the new findings.
  • The truth is that this construction was the most important access door of the Inca city. It connected Machupicchu with the empire’s road network (qhapac ñan) currently known as the Inca Trail.
  • This construction is made up of enclosures with windows and doors where the sun’s rays enter all the summer solstices.
  • Every day many tourists make this walk here to see the Inca city from the top. Visitors who arrive on the Inca Trail route have the first impression of the place through this construction.

Where is the Inti Punku (Sun Gate)?

Machu Picchu offers 3 types of special discounts:

  • The Sun Gate is located in the upper part, southeast of Machu Picchu in Cusco, Peru.
  • Due to its location in the highest part of Machupicchu, from there it was possible to control the arrival of visitors. In the time of the Incas, they would have had guards that protected the city.

How to get there?

  • To reach the Sun Gate you must follow the path that begins at the door of the archaeological site through the agricultural terraces.
  • The trail is marked with wooden signs that go almost parallel to the road that leads to the top of Machupicchu mountain.
  • Likewise, the Sun Gate is the place where people who traveled the famous Inca Trail to Machupicchu enter, either the 4-day or the 2-day route.
  • Whether through the Inca Trail or the route from the Inca city, the tourist who wants to visit the Intipunku must buy his ticket to Machu Picchu.

Intipunku Map in Machu Picchu

To buy the ticket online with a foreigner card, follow these steps:

  • The Intipunku is located 1.8 kilometers from the archeological site of Machupicchu. It is estimated that this walk lasts 40 minutes.

Map Intipunku - Machu Picchu

Map Intipunku – Machu Picchu

Intipunku history

  • The Sun Gate was a kind of control gate for people entering and leaving the Inca city. Because of its remote and strategic location, it is believed that Machupicchu only welcomed guests invited and selected from the elite of the empire.
  • The construction is dedicated to the sun. During the summer solstice, the sun’s rays appeared around the place. The people who returned after seeing the city were treated with greater respect by the people who were on their way to the Intipunku.
  • After the discovery of Machu Picchu in 1911 , the new gate of the Inca city was on the slopes of the archaeological site. Thus, the Intipunku began to be visited only by visitors who make the ascent from the bottom or tourists who make the Inca Trail.

How high is it?

  • The Intipunku is 2,745 meters above sea level (9,005 ft).
  • From the archaeological site of Machu Picchu you must ascend almost 2 kilometers to the ‘Sun Gate’. It is estimated that approximately 300 meters (984 ft.) Are ascended.

What to do in the Intipunku?

  • Perform the hike – The ascent from Machu Picchu to the Intipunku is one of the most famous walks made by tourists who travel approximately 2 kilometers along the ancient paths built by the Incas hundreds of years ago.
  • Observe landscapes – From the top of the Sun Gate you can see landscapes of Machu Picchu that cannot be seen from elsewhere. You can see the Urubamba river, the Huayna Picchu mountain, the town of Aguas Calientes and its surroundings.
  • Take pictures – Some of the best photos that visitors can find in the Inca city are from the Intipunku. Not only at the top, if not in some of the sections of the road, you can get unique photos of the Inca city.
  • Bird watching – During the trip to the top you can see some of the bird species that inhabit Machupicchu. Visitors will appreciate species such as the cock of the rocks, the Andean turkey, the tile tanager, the chestnut-breasted hummingbird, the mountain watchmaker among others.
  • Knowing the Sun Gate – This construction is one of the most important in Machupicchu but it is not regularly visited by tourists due to its location in the highest part. If you want to know more about this place, you must hire a private tour guide and go there in your company.

Do I need a special ticket to make the walk to Sun Gate?

  • Any entrance ticket to Machupicchu offers the opportunity to get to know the Intipunku, as long as the walk is done on your own. This route is not part of the usual tourist circuit.
  • The ticket preferred by visitors is the Machu Picchu Solo ticket. It is recommended to make the walk before 10 in the morning, this will allow you to return before the closing that is at 2 in the afternoon.

Intipunku image gallery in Machu Picchu

Tips during your visit

  • If you plan to visit the Intipunku or take any of the walks in Machupicchu, wear hiking shoes. This way you will avoid accidents and kinks on the cobbled paths.
  • If you visit during the rainy season (from November to April) wear a rain poncho. If you make your visit in the dry season (from May to October) bring sunscreen and a hat.
  • The route to the Sun Gate is not included in the tourist circuit so if you want to do it in the company of a tour guide, you must hire one in private service.

Questions and answers about Intipunku

  • a) Can I see the sunrise in the Intipunku?

    The entrance to Machupicchu is from 6 in the morning. A quick ascent may take 30 minutes or more. Due to the time it takes for the ascent, once at the top it is unlikely that you can see the sunrise. Tourists entering the Inca Trail can see the sunrise.

  • b) Is there an age limit?

    There is no age limit to enter the Sun Gate. Tourists of all ages can visit it.

  • c) Is it safe?

    Yes. The paths that lead to the Sun Gate are wide and well affirmed. There are no cases of accidents during this route.

  • d) What is the business hours?

    The visiting hours at the Intipunku are every day of the year from 6 in the morning until 2 in the afternoon.

  • e) When is a good time to go?

    According to experts, the dry season (from May to October) is the best time of the year to visit the Intipunku. During those days there is not much chance of rain.

  • f) Can I go beyond Intipunku?

    After the Sun Gate, the Inca trails lead to the archaeological site of Wiñaywayna. This tourist attraction is prohibited for visitors who enter with the Machupicchu entrance. The only ones who can visit this place are the tourists who make the Inca Trail.

  • g) What to wear?

    In addition to a rain poncho and sunscreen, it is recommended to bring snacks, mineral water, an extra polo and a backpack to easily carry all these objects. In Machu Picchu, umbrellas are prohibited, among other things.

  • h) Can I go if I am not well physically?

    Yes. The walk to the Intipunku can be done despite the poor physical condition of the visitors. It is recommended to go slowly enjoying the landscape.

Advice from people who have been there

Inti Punku – Sun Gate

Maria V DBy: Maria V D

“It's very beautiful“

“If you are already in Machu Picchu, go to the Sun Gate, it is about 45 minutes walking uphill, if you go early you can see the sunrise and how it accompanies you to the door. It is beautiful and in the morning, the sun does not heat but illuminates“


By Ticket Machu Picchu – Last updated, September 17, 2021