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Q’eswachaka: The last Inca suspension bridge

  • Published on Jun 12, 2017 Experiences
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Every year, in a hidden corner of the Peruvian Andes, four Quechua communities renew a bridge that is over five centuries old

During the Incas’ time existed a great net of roads called “Camino Real” that linked the Inca Empire. However, due to its difficult geography, many places were joined by suspension bridges made of vegetable fiber.

The Q´eswachaka is the only bridge that has been renovated from generation to generation by Cusco families until nowadays. The bridge is in the department of Cusco, over the Apurímac River at 3,700 masl. About a thousand people from different communities, near the bridge, meet for four days to renew it.

Now, we will get to know the fourth day tradition that takes the reconstruction of the Q´eswachaka:

Straw fiber plant Andean highlands Qeswachaka bridge.
Solid straw of vegetal fiber that grows in the Andean highlands for the reconstruction of the Q´eswachaka bridge

On the first day, people of the communities go out in search of a solid straw of vegetal fiber called Ichu, in Quechua. Once the necessary amount of Ichu has been collected, women weave this solid straw to create the ropes of the bridge, and men are responsible for joining the rope from end to end and then braiding it.

Arriving the second day, the structure of the old bridge is disarmed, the stone nails that sustain the bridge are removed, and four ropes that are the base of the structure of the new bridge are placed.

Rope Andean women fiber vegetable bridge Qeswachaka
Ropes woven by the Andean women with vegetal fiber, for reconstruction of the bridge

Tired, but still with strength, on the third day, the villagers conclude with the assembly of the handrails and the surface of the bridge, where communities will cross.

Bridge Qeswachaka quechua communities Cuzco.
Q´eswachaka Bridge rebuilt by four Quechua communities at 3,700 AMSL. In the department of Cusco.

And finally, on the fourth day they celebrate the reconstruction of the bridge, to the sound of music with indigenous dances, given that the work is considered a holiday by the Peruvian ancestors.


Cross bridge Qeswachaka
A brave visitor crosses the Queshuachaca bridge. Do you dare?

Therefore, if you travel to Cusco, do not hesitate to visit this hidden place of the Andes: A destination unknown by travelers that evoke amaze and a lot of tradition. Would you dare to cross it?

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