The last Inca rope bridge or Queswachaca
The Q'eswachaka is an annual construction process of the last traditional Inca rope bridge, spanning a 120 feet canyon over the Apurimac River. The bridge is located at 3,700 meters above sea level in the province of Canas in Cusco, and spans the Apurimac River, three hours away from Cusco. The world Apurimac means the God who talks in Quechua. The bridge is 33 meters long and it is made of long blades of grass which must first be collected and then woven into six long cables used in the construction of the bridge. The cables are then bound as they would have been in Inca times and are secured with large trunks from eucalyptus trees, which are buried deeply at either end of the bridge. The incredible result is a suspension bridge that is durable, just as it has been done for hundreds of years.
Bridging people together
The Inca Empire was held together by a system of roads spreading from Colombia in the north of Peru to Chile in the south. Between these countries there were mountains, valleys and rivers to be found and they needed to be traversed or crossed by bridges. Those bridges were made from traditional materials and were very narrow, wide enough for only one person to use at a time. One of those bridges still remains and it is the Queswachaca bridge.
The annual reconstruction of the bridge honours their Inca ancestors and is a good reason to get together and celebrate with neighbouring communities, and about 700 men and women come to the Q'eswachaka Construction of the Bridge Festival.
Peru this Week Tour
This gathering usually takes place in mid June, although this time Peru this Week is organising a tour to witness the extraordinary Q'eswachaka construction. After building the bridge, the community members celebrate together with traditional music and dancing.
The tour will be departing from Cusco on June 15-16 and an expert guide will go with the group to explain the culture and history connected with the event. The two day and one night trip will include camping near the bridge and a chef will be preparing the meals. To read the full itinerary for this trip, please visit the Peru Experience website where you will also find photos and prices. You can also contact Morten Bruun Jensen at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 221-9998. I look forward to seeing you!
This event has helped people to keep tied to their roots - not only as Peruvians but also as human beings - and helped to remind them that we don’t always need all of this globalisation. What we do need, and what we all discovered here, was contact with passion, with the simple things. It is important to remember that these communities still are able to work together for the common good. There is a real symbol here in the weaving; all the work of these hands, whether male or female, tying people together in a literal and figurative way.
Reading and researching about the Queswachaka bridge reminded me of a time many years ago, when everybody was talking about Norwegian Thor Heyerdahl and his Kontiki expedition! The Incas were using fibres to weave the ropes needed for the construction of the bridge in Cusco, while the Norwegian was trying to build a raft out of totora reeds as found in Lake Titicaca to go thousands of kilometres across the Pacific Ocean!