Machu Picchu, Wonder of the World, a marvel of Inca architecture, hidden for the Spanish invaders and one of the most beautiful ancient sites you will ever see. Located on the side of a mountain high in the Andes mountain range Machu Picchu and should be on your list of must see when traveling to Peru or South America. There is many things to do in Machu Picchu, like taking one of the many available hikes and one you should not miss is the Sun Gate at Machu Picchu also known as Intipunku.
From the entrance gate of Machu Picchu and the guardian’s house, you have to turn left and continue along the trail that leads away from Machu Picchu and walk through some agricultural terraces. Do not worry the trail is clearly sign posted so you will not get lost. The trek to the Sun gate is a gradual one, the angle being no more than 30 degrees. The hike takes around 3 hours round trip and the last 20 minutes as you go up are a little more challenging.
The Sun Gate is the arrival point to Machu Picchu for those who do the Inca Trail, after 4 days of hiking the first view of Machu Picchu is break taking from the Sun Gate. However, you do not have to do the Inca Trail to appreciate to beauty of Machu Picchu. It is recommended you do the Sun Gate hike in the morning and you may even come across people who have just finished the trail going down to Machu Picchu.
In Inca times, the gate was used by the Imperial Guards to control who entered the site. The gate was the main entrance of Machu Picchu and it is thought that everybody used the gate from Royalty to local people. Firstly, it was thought that Machu Picchu was used only for special people from throughout the Inca Kingdom and the gate welcomed these people but that theory was discounted.
You may ask do you need a special ticket to walk to the Sun Gate, well the answer is no, you only need your entrance ticket to Machu Picchu and you are allowed to do the hike. When you reach the gate, you will be amazed by the views from the top and you will be able to take plenty of photos.
On a guided tour of Machu Picchu, you will discover all the history of the site. One of the questions you may be asking is when was Machu Picchu discovered. The official story is that a Yale Professor called Hiram Bingham discovered the site in 1911 when he was looking for a different site. With the help of a local boy, the American arrived at Machu Picchu and the ruin was covered in jungle. Never discovered by the Spanish the site was intact.
One of the mysteries is that he never discovered any riches at the site giving truth to the story that the site was abandoned by the Inca centuries before. He did however find some important ceramics, which are on show at the Yale museum today. Until this day scientist have no idea as to why the Inca’s built the town, what purpose it served and why it was abandoned and we may never know. What is important is that we still have the site to visit today.
When visiting Machu Picchu, there are many different hikes to enjoy; apart from the Sun Gate at Machu Picchu, you can hike free to the Inca Bridge a short hike to see where the Inca armies would enter Machu Picchu.
Another hike to do is Huayna Picchu, which is the peak you see in front of Machu Picchu, this trek is very popular and you will need to book in advance. However, if you can get tickets the view from the top of Huayna Picchu is spectacular and you will get some great photos from the top.
Another popular hike is Machu Picchu Mountain, around 3 hours round trip, the hike is not as steep as Huayna Picchu and when you reach the top, the views are also wonderful. All these hikes you can do on a day trip to Machu Picchu or if you have more time than do 2 days at the ruin and discover all the different hikes.
To do any of these walks including the Sun Gate you need an average level of fitness as these moderate in difficulty. We suggest that you use good hiking boots as sometimes the paths can be wet and slippery. It is also better not to do Huayna Picchu with children, as the path is steep. However, the other hikes you can enjoy with the children.
A trip to Machu Picchu will live in your memory forever, so do your research and look at the hotels you like and book a vacation to Peru today. Either as a solo traveler, couple, family or group. Do not miss out.