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The sun gate
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Intipunku, the sun gate in Ollantaytambo

Everyone knows the famous Intipunku located on top of Machu Picchu. However, few visitors know that there is another Intipunku on top of one of the mountains that surrounds the town of Ollantaytambo. The photos that can be obtained from there, with the snowy Verónica in the background, are incredible. To go there requires an arduous walk of approximately 3 kilometers uphill. This great effort is worth it.



Intipunku-Ollantaytambo
Intipunku – Ollantaytambo

Intipunku is a Quechua word that means ‘Gate of the Sun’. There are two famous ‘Intipunkus’: one in the upper part of the archaeological site of Machu Picchu and another at the top of Ollantaytambo (in the community of Cacchicata). To reach this last Inca construction, an ascent of approximately 2 hours must be made. There you can get incredible photos of the ‘Gate of the Sun’ and the Sacred Valley of the Incas.


What is Intipunku?

  • The Intipunku is a construction made of stones as a center of worship to the Inca gods: the mountains, the sun, the stars, the moon and the earth.
  • Its name comes from a Quechua word meaning ‘door of the sun’. During the mornings and especially during the summer solstices, the sun’s rays pass through this door, approximately 2.20 meters high and 1 meter wide.
  • As in the famous Intipunku located in Machu Picchu, there the Incas performed religious ceremonies of great importance. Through this door you have a spectacular view of the snowy Verónica, also called Wakay Willka: sacred tears.
  • Today the Intipunku of Ollantaytambo is a tourist attraction rarely visited by tourists because it is not included in a traditional tour. You can only go there on your own. Admission is free. Of course, you must take an arduous walk of 3 kilometers to get there.

Location

  • Intipunku is on top of a mountain in the Sacred Valley of the Incas, 3,900 meters above sea level.
  • It belongs to the district of Ollantaytambo (province of Urubamba), at the top of the community of Cachiccata.
  • Geographically it lies above the banks of the Vilcanota River. At the top stand out the views of the snowy Veronica and Wakaywillca.

How to get to Intipunku?

To get to this tourist attraction from the city of Cusco, you must take the following route:

  • From any part of the city of Cusco you must take a public transport minivan at the bus stop on Pavitos street (in the historic center of Cusco).
  • The trip to Ollantaytambo is approximately 60 kilometers and lasts 1 hour 45 minutes (cost 10 soles). Once in this town, you must take a motorcycle taxi to the community of Cachiccata.
  • The mototaxi ride to Cachiccata is 6 kilometers and takes almost 20 minutes. Once there, all you have to do is make an arduous walk uphill to the Intipunku.
  • The walk is approximately 3 kilometers (2 hours depending on the pace of the tourist). Doing it is free. The return trip follows the same route as the outbound leg.

The Sun Gate

  • The Intipunku has a structure similar to a door through which you have spectacular views of the mountains, especially the snow-capped Verónica, considered sacred by the Incas.
  • Its name precisely means ‘Gate of the Sun’. In the morning the sun’s rays reach its stone structures. In addition to the door, there are small stone walls with adobe that support niches where sacred objects were placed in sacred rituals.
  • To get to the Puerta del Sol, the Incas built roads that later joined the famous route of the Incas, the qhapac ñan.

The arduous hike

  • To get to Puerta del Sol, you must take an arduous walk of approximately 3 kilometers uphill. The starting point is the community of Cachiccata.
  • The route is called: “Trek Cachiccata – Intipunku”. The route lasts from 2 to 3 hours, depending on the physical condition of each tourist.
  • The walking route has signs that indicate the correct path that leads to the Intipunku. There are deviations that also lead to the stone quarries of Qachiqata. A little further you can reach the Perolniyoc waterfalls.
  • The walk has a moderate-high difficulty. The walk is recommended for tourists over 8 years of age who like this type of walk.
  • The return leg follows the same path as the outbound journey.

Andean landscapes

  • Once at the top of the Intipunku you can appreciate beautiful Andean landscapes such as: the snowy Verónica, the town of Ollantaytambo, the Vilcanota river, the terraces and cultivated fields of the Sacred Valley of the Incas and more.
  • It is advisable to take a camera or even a drone with you. The entrance to the Intipunku is free. The best photos can be taken very early in the morning. For this reason, it is recommended to start the walk at 5 in the morning or even before.



Weather

  • At the top of the Intipunku the climate is cold temperate with temperatures that vary from a maximum of 22ºC. (in the mornings and afternoons) to a minimum of 0ºC. (at night and early morning).
  • The rains can happen every day of the year. However, the possibility of rain is more frequent from November to March (especially in February). The rest of the year the rains are less frequent.

Some recommendations

  • During your visit to the Intipunku, take comfortable and resistant shoes with you . Also comfortable and sports clothing as well as a hat, sunscreen, mosquito repellent, poncho in case of rain, fruits, snacks, rehydrating drinks and everything in a suitable backpack.
  • Take cash with you as the various tourist services do not accept credit or debit cards. Transportation services and restaurants only accept money in Peruvian soles, not dollars or euros.

More information about the sun gate

  • Entrance to Intipuku is free.
  • There are no commercial tours to this tourist destination. However, you can hire a professional tour guide to accompany you during the trek. Prices vary depending on the tourism agency you choose or the rate agreed with the tour guide.
  • The Intipunku of Machu Picchu is one of the most amazing constructions of the ‘Inca citadel’. To reach the top, you must walk 1 kilometer to the top of this building. The Intipunku was the access door to the Inca citadel at the time of the Incas. Today you can also get there through the 4-day Inca Trail, just like the Incas did.

 

By Ticket Machu Picchu – Last updated, December 22, 2022