Nestled high in the Andes Mountains of Peru, the Sun Gate at Machu Picchu stands as a testament to the ingenuity and brilliance of the ancient Incan civilization. As you make your way through the rugged terrain and winding paths that lead to this imposing stone structure, you can't help but feel a sense of awe and reverence for the history that lies before you.

Hiking to the Sun Gate (Intipunku) at Machu Picchu

The Sun Gate was built hundreds of years ago, a testament to the ingenuity and innovation of the Inca civilization. The Sun Gate is an impressive structure; its construction takes your breath away. But what exactly is the significance of this site? What's behind its design? This article will explore the Sun Gate at Machu Picchu's history, construction, and spiritual energy. Read on to learn more!

What is the Sun Gate in Machu Picchu?

The Sun Gate Machu Picchu (Also called Initpunku - Quechua name) is a ceremonial entrance to the ancient Inca city of Machu Picchu. It is located on the site's eastern side and has two large gateways flanked by towers. The name "Sun Gate" comes from the fact that it is the first place where the sun's rays hit the ruins in the morning.

The Sun Gate is an important part of Machu Picchu's history and symbolism. For the Incas, the sun was a powerful god they believed gave life to all things. The gates of the Sun Gate were designed to allow the sun's rays to enter the city and bless it with its life-giving power. Today, the Sun Gate is one of the most popular places to take photos of Machu Picchu. Hundreds of people arrive daily from the Inca Trail, and walking through the Sun Gate is a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

Brief history

The Sun Gate is the entrance to Machu Picchu from the Inca Trail and has been used by travelers for centuries. The gate is named after the sun, which rises directly over the gateway each morning. The Incas believed that the sun was the most important god, and they designed the Sun Gate to align with the sun's path. The Sun Gate was built in the 15th century during the reign of the 9th Inca emperor Pachacuti. Pachacuti was responsible for many of the great engineering feats at Machu Picchu, including the construction of the Sun Gate.


The Sun Gate is located on the eastern side of Machu Picchu, next to Montaña Machu Picchu, with an altitude of 2,720 meters (8,923 feet) above sea level.

Arrival to the Sun Gate at Machu Picchu

Quick stats

  • Location: Eastern side of Machu Picchu
  • Maximum Altitude: 2,720 m / 8,924 ft.
  • Altitude Gain from Machu Picchu: 290 m (951 ft).
  • Entry tickets: Not needed (Currently closed)
  • Trail Description: Stone-paved trail with a gradual inclination
  • Hiking distance: 4 km/ 2.4 miles - 2 hours
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Season: All year round


The Sun Gate is located in the Cusco Region of Peru, about 80 kilometers (50 miles) northwest of Cusco city. It sits at an elevation of 2,720 meters (8,923 feet) above sea level. The climate is subtropical, with warm weather year-round. However, the temperature can vary depending on the time of day and the time of year.

The average high temperature is 22 degrees Celsius (71 degrees Fahrenheit). The average low temperature is 9 degrees Celsius (48 degrees Fahrenheit). The rainy season in Machu Picchu runs from November to March. During this time, the average rainfall is about double that of the dry season.

How to get to the Sun Gate at Machu Picchu?

There are 2 ways to reach the Sun Gate: 

  • From Machu Picchu

The easiest way to get to the Sun Gate is by taking a bus from Aguas Calientes town to Machu Picchu, then hiking for about 1 hour using the ancient stone-paved Inca Trail. This option is currently unavailable; the hiking option from Machu Picchu to the sun gate has been suspended since the pandemic's beginning.

  • From the Inca Trail

The best way to experience the fantastic views from the SunGate is by hiking the Inca Trail. Depending if you take the Classic IncaTrail or the Short Inca Trail, you will arrive in the morning or the afternoon. 

- Classic Inca Trail 4 days; on the last day of this iconic trek, you will arrive around 6.30 am and enjoy the first and most amazing view of Machu Picchu from the Sun Gate. On a clear day, you can witness the sunrise over Machu Picchu. 

- Short Inca Trail 2 days; after hiking for almost 6 hours along the Short Inca Trail, you will arrive at the Sun Gate around 3-4 pm; this time of the day offers a fantastic view of Machu Picchu with the sunset. 

What to expect when you arrive at the Sun Gate?

Once through the Sun Gate from the Inca Trail, you will be greeted with breathtaking views of Machu Picchu. The ancient city is spread out before you, and it's hard to believe that something incredible was built so long ago. Enjoy the Machu Picchu Citadel, Huayna Picchu, the Urubamba Rivers, and the impressive Andes Mountains surrounding the sacred Citadel. 

Sun Gate Machu Picchu

Tips for enjoying your visit to the Sun Gate

Tips for enjoying your visit to the SunGate from Machu Picchu or the Inca Trail.

  1. Get there early: If you are hiking the Classic Inca Trail, wake up early and arrive with the first one to enjoy the fantastic views of the Citadel with few people.
  2. Take your time: If hiking the Short Inca Trail, spend some time in the Sun Gate with the view. However, leave at 4 pm since you must take the last bus from Machu Picchu to Aguas Calientes.
  3. Bring a good camera: The views from the Sun Gate are simply incredible, so make sure you bring a camera to capture them.
  4. Wear comfortable shoes: You will be doing a lot of walking at the Sun Gate, so wear comfortable shoes.
  5. Drink plenty of water: It can get quite hot at the Sun Gate, so drink plenty to stay hydrated.

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