This post was written by Marc.
Inka Trail Day 4 – Race to the Sun Gate
The last morning was the earliest wakeup, 3:30am. We were told no room service on this day (coca tea), but that the usual wake up service would still be in force – a porter that shakes your tent and says: “Good Morning, Wake up!”. You then reply with “Gracias Amigo”. (We think that’s all the English this porter knows).
After packing and getting dressed we did discover that there were cloths and warm water outside the tent, we assumed this was part of the room service, but was obviously standard issue. By this time it was not possible to make use of the facility as we were already dressed.
Usual wake up to breakfast time is 40min, today was 20min. There are 2 reasons for the early wake up: 1-the porters need to get on the only porter train back to cusco which leaves at 5:30am, they need to pack up camp and get the train about 1.5hours away. 2-the gate to the Machupichu area opens at 5:30am for the hikers on the Inka trail, and the que gets long, so the earlier you get there, the more likely you are to be in front and the people in front get a bench to sit on and roof to sit under incase it rains (it was how ever clear skies that morning). We got there about an hour before the gates opened and we were some of the first in line.
From our final camp site to the gate is about a 5min walk. From the gate to the sun gate is roughly an hour hike. The sun gate is a small ruin in a ‘V’ shape area between the mountains that over looks Machupicchu. The first summer sun passes through the sun gate and hits Machupicchu at its temple which creates a perfect square on the floor through a trapezoidal window. This also happens through another window during the first sunrise of the winter sun.
There was a mini race to get to the sun gate before sunrise to observe the first light hitting Machupicchu. It was generally downhill except for one extremely steep area which requires one to crawl up the steep stairs using ones hands to help.
We arrived at the sun gate with about 10min before sun rise over Machupicchu. The early morning wakeup and mini marathon was worth it!