We all know the famous Intipunku at the top of Machu Picchu, but few lucky ones know that there is another hidden treasure in the heights, the Intipunku of Ollantaytambo. In this article, we will dive into the secrets of this lesser-known jewel, revealing the majesty of its landscapes and the cultural richness it holds.
What is Intipunku?
The Intipunku, a Quechua word meaning ‘Gate of the Sun’, is more than a stone construction; it is a center of worship to the Inca gods. The mountains, the sun, the stars, the moon and the earth come together in this sacred place. In the mornings, especially during the summer solstices, the sun’s rays pass through this gate 2.20 meters high and 1 meter wide, illuminating a celestial scenery.
Located at 3,900 meters above sea level, in the community of Cachiccata in Ollantaytambo, the Intipunku offers breathtaking views of the snow-capped Veronica and Wakaywillca. But getting there is no easy task; it is a journey that begins in Cusco and requires a combination of minivans, motorcycle cabs and a challenging hike of approximately 3 kilometers.
How to get there
- From Cusco to Ollantaytambo: Start your journey by taking a public transport minivan from the historic center of Cusco.
- Mototaxi to Cachiccata: Once in Ollantaytambo, board a mototaxi to the community of Cachiccata.
- Hike to Intipunku: The final trek involves a 3 km uphill hike, an experience worthwhile for the unparalleled views.
Discovering the Sun Gate
The Intipunku in Ollantaytambo features a gate-like structure. From this place, you can enjoy spectacular views of the mountains, especially the sacred snow-capped Veronica. Mornings full of magic where the sun’s rays caress the stone structures and reveal the religious essence of this place.
The Arduous Trek
The route, known as “Trek Cachiccata – Intipunku”, requires a hike of 2 to 3 hours, depending on the physical condition of each visitor. Signs indicate the correct path, and detours lead to the stone quarries of Qachiqata and the waterfalls of Perolniyoc. A moderately challenging experience, recommended for tourists over 8 years old looking for a deeper connection with nature.
Unforgettable Andean Landscapes
Once at the top of Intipunku, visitors are rewarded with breathtaking views. The snow-capped Veronica, the town of Ollantaytambo, the Vilcanota River, the terraces and fields of the Sacred Valley of the Incas unfold like a natural tapestry. Take the opportunity to capture these moments with a camera or even a drone.
Tips for an Optimal Experience
- Be prepared for the weather: The climate at the top of Intipunku is cold temperate, with temperatures ranging from 0ºC to 22ºC. Wear appropriate clothing and be prepared for rain, which is more frequent from November to March.
- Necessary equipment: Comfortable shoes, sportswear, hat, sunscreen, insect repellent, rain poncho and a well-equipped backpack are essential.
- Practical Information: Entrance to Intipunku is free, but do not expect traditional tourist services. Be sure to bring cash, as many places do not accept credit or debit cards.
Differences between Intipunku of Machu Picchu and Intipunku of Ollantaytambo
|Intipunku of Machu Picchu
|Intipunku of Ollantaytambo
|Archaeological site of Machu Picchu
|Cachiccata Community in Ollantaytambo
|1 hour uphill
|3 hours uphill
|With the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu tour
|A set of carved stone buildings overlooking Machu Picchu
|A stone gateway carved by the Incas with a view of the Sacred Valley.
Frequently Asked Questions about the Intipunku of Ollantaytambo
What does Intipunku mean?
Intipunku is a Quechua word that means ‘door of the sun’.
Where is the Intipunku?
The Intipunku is located on top of a mountain belonging to the community of Cachiccata in Ollantaytambo. It is located at a distance of 61 kilometers from the city of Cusco.
Is the hike to the Intipunku of Ollantaytambo difficult?
Yes, the hike is uphill along a steep stretch, it takes between 2 to 3 hours depending on the physical resistance of the person.
How much does it cost to visit the Intipunku of Ollantaytambo?
There are no entrance tickets to the Intipunku of Ollantaytambo. Admission is free for all tourists.
What is the difference between the Intipunku of Ollantaytambo and Machu Picchu?
The Intipunku of Ollantaytambo provides breathtaking views of the Sacred Valley of the Incas. On the other hand, the Intipunku of Machu Picchu offers panoramic views of the beautiful Inca citadel.
How high is the Intipunku of Ollantaytambo?
The Intipunku is at 3,900 meters above sea level.
What is the climate like in Intipunku?
The climate in Intipunku is cold temperate with strong winds. The temperature varies from 0ºC at night to 16ºC during the day. Rains can occur at any time, especially from January to March.
What car to take to visit Intipunku?
The first step is to travel from Cusco to Ollantaytambo in minivans that leave from Pavitos Street. Then, take a cab or mototaxi to the community of Cachiccata, where the hike begins.
Is it dangerous to visit Intipunku?
No, the route is hard and difficult, but not dangerous. It is recommended to follow the marked trails with proper footwear and a well equipped backpack with snacks, drinks and the necessary.
How to see the sunrise from the Intipunku of Ollantaytambo?
To witness the sunrise from the Intipunku, it is necessary to leave Cusco around 2 a.m. and start the hike at 4 a.m. You will be able to enjoy the natural spectacle around 6 a.m.