Intipunku, which means “Sun Gate” in the Quechua language, is an ancient Inca site located on a mountain ridge above Machu Picchu in Peru. It is believed that Intipunku served as an entrance to the citadel of Machu Picchu for those who traveled the Inca Trail.
The hike to Intipunku is a popular activity for visitors to Machu Picchu. The trail begins at the Inca Trail checkpoint and follows a steep, uphill path for about 45 minutes. The trail offers stunning views of the surrounding mountains and valleys, as well as the opportunity to see some of the smaller ruins along the way.
Once at Intipunku, visitors can enjoy panoramic views of Machu Picchu from above. The site features a large stone gateway, as well as a platform where the Incas would have conducted ceremonies and observed the sun rising over the mountains.
Intipunku is believed to have played an important role in Inca astronomy and religion, as it was positioned to align with the sun during the solstices. Today, visitors can witness this alignment during the June and December solstices.
Visiting Intipunku is a unique and rewarding experience that offers a glimpse into the ancient culture and history of the Inca civilization.
History of Inti Punku
The Inca Trail to Intipunku was rediscovered in the early 20th century by Hiram Bingham, an American historian and explorer who is credited with bringing Machu Picchu to the attention of the Western world. Bingham’s team cleared the trail and restored some of the structures along the way, including Intipunku.
Today, the hike to Intipunku is a popular activity for visitors to Machu Picchu. The trail offers stunning views of the surrounding mountains and valleys, and the site itself provides a unique perspective on the ancient Inca civilization.
While the exact history of Intipunku may remain a mystery, its significance as an entrance to Machu Picchu and its alignment with the solstices make it a fascinating destination for anyone interested in the culture and history of the Andean region.
How to get to Inti Punku in Machu Picchu
Intipunku is located above Machu Picchu and can be accessed via the Inca Trail, which begins at the Inca Trail checkpoint near Ollantaytambo. Here’s how to get to the checkpoint:
- Take a bus or taxi from Cusco to Ollantaytambo. The journey takes about two hours by bus or one hour by taxi.
- Once in Ollantaytambo, head to the Inca Trail checkpoint, which is located near the train station. You will need to present your passport and Inca Trail permit to enter.
- From the checkpoint, follow the Inca Trail for approximately 4-5 hours until you reach Intipunku. The trail is steep and can be challenging, but the stunning views and ancient ruins along the way make it well worth the effort.
- Once at Intipunku, you can enjoy panoramic views of Machu Picchu from above and explore the ancient ruins of the site.
It’s important to note that access to the Inca Trail is limited and requires a permit, which must be obtained in advance. Permits are issued on a first-come, first-served basis and can sell out quickly, so it’s recommended to book well in advance. Alternatively, there are other hiking routes to Machu Picchu that do not require a permit, such as the Salkantay Trek or the Lares Trek.
Activities in Machu Picchu Intipunku
Here are some activities you can do at Intipunku:
- Hike the Inca Trail: Intipunku can be accessed via the Inca Trail, which is a challenging but rewarding hike that takes approximately 4-5 hours. Along the way, you will pass by other ancient Inca sites and enjoy breathtaking views of the surrounding mountains and valleys.
- Witness the sunrise: Intipunku is positioned to align with the sun during the solstices, and it’s possible to witness the sunrise over the mountains from the site. This is a unique and unforgettable experience that draws visitors from around the world.
- Explore the ruins: While Intipunku itself is relatively small, there are other ancient ruins in the area that are worth exploring. These include the ruins of Wiñay Wayna, which is located along the Inca Trail and features impressive terraces and water channels.
- Take in the views: Perhaps the most popular activity at Intipunku is simply taking in the breathtaking views of Machu Picchu from above. The site offers a unique perspective on the ancient citadel and is a must-visit destination for anyone interested in the history and culture of the Inca civilization.
Visiting Intipunku is a unique and rewarding experience that offers a glimpse into the ancient culture and history of the Inca civilization. Whether you choose to hike the Inca Trail, witness the sunrise, or simply take in the views, a visit to Intipunku is sure to be a highlight of your trip to Machu Picchu.