Friday, November 24, 2017

Peruvian Highlands - Machu Picchu Day 2

A reader responded via email commenting that the Machu Picchu travelogue was interesting but asked when I planned to follow up with a Day 2 travelogue as promised.  Now that the Machu Picchu visit is more than two years in the past, that is a very good question!  The reader is quite right.  I should provide a Day 2 summary of my 2015 visit to Peru's Machu Picchu and follow up on commitments made. To refresh fading memories, Machu Picchu Day 1 can be explored at, Machu Picchu Day 1.

Having climbed Huayna Picchu on Day 1, the main objectives of Day 2 were two hikes: one to the Sun Gate (Intipunku) and the second to the Inca Drawbridge.  The remainder of the day would be spent further exploring the ruins of the citadel. 

As on Day 1, we entered the ruins in the early morning hours.  From the main gate, we opted for a short, steep climb to reach the storehouse for our first glimpse of the day of the citadel. 
Storehouse with citadel in background
After a quick look around and to regain our bearings on the layout of the citadel and environs, the three of us struck out on the Inca Trail to Intipunku.  Guidebooks suggest a two to three hour round trip for the excursion even though the distance is only about two kilometers.  For travelers hiking the Inca Trail with a destination of Machu Picchu, the Sun Gate offers the first glimpse of the citadel.  While we would not be making the trek to Machu Picchu along the Inca Trial, we would get the experience of viewing Machu Picchu from this eastern vantage point.
Beginning of stone path to Intipunku (Sun Gate)
The route to the Sun Gate is longer than it appears.  Some say the high altitude distorts distance.  I do not know about that but the walk was longer than eyesight would suggest.
Trail from Sun Gate to Machu Picchu with shrine in middle left.
Breaking up the hike to the Sun Gate was a stop at a shrine and cemetery marked by a huge 50 foot rock.  Bingham discovered a well preserved burial at the base of the huge rock.
Nancy taking a rest stop at the shrine with rock monument in background
Several passages of steep stairs interspersed the cobbled trail  often requiring a quick stop to catch one's breath before continuing on to the saddle of the mountain. 
Another rest stop on the climb to Intipunku
Upon reaching the Sun Gate, we encountered several small groups enjoying the view.  Some groups were stopping at the Sun Gate after a long trek.  Others, like us, were making an excursion from the main citadel.
Structures at the Sun Gate
You are here!
Structures at the Sun Gate seen from above
Looking upon the citadel complex from the Sun Gate, the switchback road up to the citadel is visible in the foreground.  While a trail exists from the valley floor up to the citadel requiring a 90 minute walk, we opted for the 20 minute shuttle bus ride from our hotel in Aguas Calientes up to the citadel. 
Road winding up to Machu Picchu
Jon taking a rest at Intipunku with citadel in background
After a brief rest and some refreshment, we headed back down the trail to the citadel.  On the hike back, the citadel can be clearly seen as situated in a saddle.
Machu Picchu from Inca trail
Machu Picchu from Inca Trail
Having arrived back at the citadel, we sat down for lunch on the terraces overlooking the citadel.  Of course, our lunch was interrupted several times by llamas wandering the place untethered.
Our lunchtime view - marvelous!
Local resident photobombing my photography
With the recounting and pictorial of the journey to the Sun Gate taking more space than expected, I will end the Day 2 Machu Picchu travelogue with lunch at the citadel.  An exploration of the Inca Drawbridge and the citadel warrants its own entry so I will return to MP at a later date.  I will not wait another two years.  I promise.


  1. Is it not the most photogenic place on the planet? Lovely.

  2. Those are some cracking photos, thanks for sharing. The last one has got to be the best, though! Great view and a close-up of some exotic fauna, what's not to like

  3. Wow, what a trip / trek! Fantastic.

  4. Awesome sights, Jonathan! Love the photobomber too.

    1. The llamas are quite friendly and can be nuisances. As long as they pose for a photo, they have earned their keep!

  5. Impressive pictures, lucky man!

  6. Stunning views, Jonathan. Hmmm...I think I had better make sure that I am not viewing this post when my wife is around because she keeps hinting that a trip to South America is on the cards and MP is a must see. But I have firm plans for travel next year and don't want them disturbed!

    1. Stunning views, for sure!

      A trip to South America would be a shorter flight for you than Europe. You will not be disappointed with a trip to Peru and Machu Picchu. Food everywhere in Peru was inexpensive and delicious!

  7. Fantastic shots of a very special place!

  8. Outstanding stuff, the views look fantastic.

  9. I've played the board game, but hadn't thought of actually visiting the place. Your inspirational post has now got me thinking...

    Thanks for posting.


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