Contact Us

The Sun Gate at Machu Picchu | Best View Point

Written by Sam Corporations February 22, 2023

The Sun Gate at Machu Picchu | Best view point

First impressions matter, which is why the Sun Gate leading to Machu Picchu is such a highlight for people visiting Peru’s world-famous Inca citadel; Machu Picchu

The Sun Gate, or “Intipunku” in Quechua, sits around 290m (951 feet) above Machu Picchu’s elevation, offering unparalleled views of the ruins some 3 kilometres away. Spread out before you are the dramatic mountains of Huayna Picchu, Putucusi and Machu Picchu.

The panorama from the Sun Gate is not a prize only for Inca Trail trekkers. This guide will tell you everything you need to know about Intipunku and how to make the most of your visit to the Sun Gate at Machu Picchu.

Important note: ***As of 01st June 2024, the Sun Gate is now open for visitors from Machu Picchu. The hike takes around an hour each way. The climb is up a set of steep steps, but the views of Machu Picchu are worth the effort. For those who want to do the hike up to Sun Gate you will now need to buy a Circuit 1C ticket to enter Machu Picchu and hike to the Sun Gate. Along the way you can enjoy the Guard House view points for the best pictures of Machu Picchu.

What Is the Sun Gate (Intipunku)?

Early explorers at Machu Picchu bestowed the Sun Gate name as they orientated themselves around the archaeological ruins. In Quechua, Inti means sun, and Punku means a door or gate, which gives the Sun Gate its name.

We now know that the Sun Gate was the most critical entrance and fortress to the entire site. Only the elite passed through the Sun Gate connected Machu Picchu with the Inca empire’s road called “Qhapac Ñan”, known today as the Inca Trail.

It’s design of thatched roofs, enclosures, doors, and windows allowed sunlight on the summer solstice (Dec 21) to illuminate the entity. Inca culture offered people returning through the Sun Gate towards Cusco more respect than those journeying towards Machu Picchu, a mark of the importance of their visit.

The Sun Gate sits at around 2,745m/9,005ft, above Machu Picchu’s elevation of 2,430m/7,972ft, and can take around an hour to walk down to Machu Picchu.

How Do I Visit Machu Picchu’s Sun Gate?

Inca Trail trekkers must pass through the Sun Gate to access Machu Picchu.

People on the classic 4 day Inca Trail hike usually reach the Sun Gate early in the morning of their last hiking day, then swoop down into Machu Picchu for a guided tour. The Sun Gate can get a little crowded as groups try to reach the spot to witness the majestic sunrise.

People, often families, hike the 1 or 2 day Inca Trail from KM 104, and they pass through the Sun Gate any time from noon to 4 pm.

The Inca Trail treks include the Sun Gate so no need to buy another ticket.

***As of 01st June 2024, the Sun Gate is now open for visitors from Machu Picchu. The hike takes around an hour each way. The climb is up a set of steep steps, but the views of Machu Picchu are worth the effort. For those who want to do the hike up to Sun Gate you will now need to buy a Circuit 1C ticket to enter Machu Picchu and hike to the Sun Gate. Along the way you can enjoy the Guard House view points for the best pictures of Machu Picchu.

When’s the Best Time of Year to Visit the Sun Gate?

Machu Picchu and the Sun Gate’s busiest times are from May to September. There will be more people visiting in these months and December and January are when tourists from South America travel extensively. A visit outside these months means fewer people.

February can be pretty wet. Indeed, the Inca Trail closes every February for maintenance and to take advantage of the fact that few people travel in this period.

The “best time” to visit is subjective. Below is a rough guide of what you can expect.

  • 6-8 am: Busy with 100-150 Inca Trail trekkers waiting for sunrise. Possible mist on the mountains adds an extra atmosphere.
  • 2 pm-4 pm: Some 5-day and 2-day Inca Trail trekkers may pass through.

There are two main seasons in the sub-tropical Peruvian Andes:

  • The dry season runs from late April through to early October.
  • The wet season starts mid to late October and ends in April.

FAQs Answered:

Here are answers to some of the most commonly answered questions about the Sun Gate, Machu Picchu:

Can I See the Sunrise at the Sun Gate?

Hiking the 4-day Classic Inca Trail trek gives people the chance to see the sunrise.

When Is a Good Time to Visit the Sun Gate?

The dry season (April to October) offers a great chance of good weather. Shoulder season months like April, September and November can be excellent times.

Early (8 am) to late morning is a good time to arrive at the Sun Gate.

What’s the Weather Like at the Sun Gate?

Mountain weather is notoriously fickle and we recommend preparing for all eventualities. The climate is sub-tropical; the sun can be intense and rain showers can be heavy.

Below are some guidelines.

Dry season (April-October)

  • Average temperature: 16°C / 61°F
  • High temperature: 25°C / 77°F
  • Low temperature: 2°C / 36°F
  • Humidity: 40-45%
  • Warmest average month: October, 21°C / 70°F

Wet season (November-March)

  • Average temperature: 16°C / 61°F
  • High temperature: 21°C / 70°F
  • Low temperature: 7°C / 45°F
  • Humidity: 60-65%
  • Coolest average month: January, 18.5°C / 65°F

Altitude brings its own effects; sunny days can feel hot and early mornings can feel bitterly cold. Wear layers, take water, sun cream, waterproof clothing, and sunglasses.

Accuweather offers an excellent weather forecasting and reporting service for more information.

Is It Worth Hiking to the Sun Gate in Machu Picchu?

It’s easy to imagine Inca guardsmen protecting their empire’s magnificent architectural centrepiece from their vantage point. From the Inca Trail enjoy the view and the explanation provided by the guide.

Do I Need to Be In Good Shape to Visit the Sun Gate?

Yes, you need to be in good physical shape to visit the Sun Gate & Machu Picchu. Much of the tour is at high altitude, which places more stress on your body than at sea level.

Trekking at high elevations requires more effort. We recommend you acclimatise to the area’s altitude with 2-3 days in Cusco or the Sacred Valley.

Sun Gate, Machu Picchu: An Overview

  • Attractions: Panoramic views, terraces, Sun Gate, walk on original Inca Trails
  • Height: 2,745m / 9,005ft
  • Altitude gain: 290m / 951ft
  • Age restrictions: None
  • Location: Upper level, southeast of Machu Picchu
  • Walking time: 2-3 hours max
  • Walking distance: 2.5 miles/ 4km round trip
  • Difficulty: Easy to moderate
  • Departure time: From 6am to 2pm (site closes at 5.30pm)
  • Access: Inca Trail or via buses from Aguas Calientes into Machu Picchu ruins

What to Take to the Sun Gate?

  • Sun cream
  • Sunglasses
  • Insect repellent
  • Waterproof jacket
  • Snacks
  • 1-2 litres of water
  • Camera or mobile phone for pictures and videos
  • Lightweight, broken-in walking boots
  • Walking poles (optional) with rubber tips
  • Backpack

Visit the Sun Gate, Machu Picchu

First impressions are important and the Sun Gate offers wonderful views over the Inca citadel, and is well worth visiting. Inca Trail trekkers will feel a real sense of accomplishment and a rewarding feeling with the opportunity to pass through the Sun Gate.

Inspired to see the Sun Gate? so contact us to make your unforgettable memories!

TIPS for Solo Female Traveler or Alone in Cusco & Peru
Hiking

TIPS for Solo (Female) Traveler in Cusco & Peru

Best TIPS for Solo Female Traveler Traveling solo is on the rise, and women are leading the pack. As a result, female solo travel in Peru is also increasing in popularity. Studies show that women account for more than 75 percent of solo travel worldwide! In fact, one in five women have traveled on their […]

The Inca Salt Mines - Sam Corporations
Hiking

The Inca Salt Mines in the Sacred Valley

The Inca salt mines in the Sacred Valley is an essential part of your exploration of the Inca Heartland in Peru. Indeed there are many ruins to visit and mountainsides to trek, but one intriguing sight that should not go unnoticed are the ancient salt pans, known as Salineras de Maras. Strategically dug into the […]

Traveling to Cusco from Lima: Plane, Bus or Train - Sam Corporations
Hiking

Traveling to Cusco from Lima: Plane, Bus or Train

Cusco, capital of the Inca Empire and UNESCO World Heritage Site, is a must visit. But, how to get there from Lima? Here we break it down for you by prices and routes, whether you choose plane, bus or train. Cusco receives millions of tourists every year. It’s the gateway to Machu Picchu and the […]

Sam Corporations

Why Choose SAM CORPORATION

Local Peruvian Company

Our company is 100% locally owned. We directly contribute to economic development and environmental sustainability in Peru.

Service Quality

The quality of our service is one of our most important values which demands all our effort, determination, and courage to be successful in what we are doing and the services we provide

Responsible travel

We aim to have a positive impact in all the areas that we visit. Through our training sessions and social projects, we empower women, indigenous communities and children

Small Personalized Groups

Our groups never exceed 10 people, giving you a personalized tour in our small comfortable vans

100% Customised Itinerary

Interested in visiting only specific destinations? No problem, all our packages can be fully customized to suit your budget and schedule. Contact our travel advisors to plan the most comprehensive trip of a lifetime.

Community and Environment

We commit socially and culturally to the community and adapt our business strategies to the preservation of the environment

  • 100% Locally owned and operated.
  • Best Tour guides & trip leaders.
  • Quality-Touch & Personalized service
  • Highest quality, name brand equipment.
  • All Inclusive Tours with no hidden fees.
  • Sustainable Prctice and responsible travel.
  • Safety conscious with first aid training annually.
  • Unique Tours & Trekking routes
  • Customized Tours & Packages forFair and kind travel.
  • Personalized Attention with the Most Dedicated Team
  • Giving back to our local communities
Why Choose SAM CORPORATION

Quality

Why Choose SAM CORPORATION

100% Customised itinerary

Contact our travel advisors to plan the most complete trip of your life.

Easy communication

Simplified ease of communication, text us on WhatsApp, email or call us.

Professional and experienced

Our guides are local and have vast knowledge in Peruvian culture and history.

Local peruvian company

100% local company. Development and environmental sustainability

Small personalized groups

Our groups never exceed 10 people, giving you an unforgettable experience

Memorable trips

Discover an exceptional journey where perfection meets adventure.