Q’eswachaka Inca Bridge
There are many things you can do while in Cusco. You will be amazed by all the sights and sounds Cusco has.
One of the places that will leave you speechless is Q’eswachaka Inca Bridge, which crosses the Apurimac River in Canas Province, Peru.
This Inca bridge is the only remaining example of the Inca handwoven bridges once common in the Inca road system.
As the Great Inka Road, or Qhapaq Ñan in Quechua, was constructed, many logistical problems arose. To solve the problem presented by steep canyons and gorges, the Inka pioneered suspension bridges that would allow soldiers, messengers, and officials to safely cross and further expand their civilization’s reign. These suspension bridges, which connected peoples who had previously been isolated from one another, were essential to the organization and administration of the state and played a crucial role in the social history of the region.
The location of the Q’eswachaka Bridge, the only remaining suspension bridge of its kind, has remained the same since the reign of the Inka. The 500-year-old tradition of construction is maintained by members of four Quechua communities: Huinchiri, Chaupibanda, Choccayhua, and Ccollana Quehue. They rebuild the bridge each year.
Q’eswachaka is composed of two Quechua words: ‘q’eswa’ which means ropes of twisted straw and ‘chaka’ meaning bridge.
Inkayni Peru Tours has designed a tour that includes the Inca Bridge and a visit to the 4 lagoons that are on the road that takes you to Q’eswachaka.
It is located in a remote area of the province of Canas in the department of Cusco, over the Apurimac River at an altitude of 3,700 m.a.s.l. (12139 ft).
It is 27 meters (89 ft.) long and hangs approximately 16 meters (52 ft.) above the canyon’s rushing river.
Duration: Full day tour
Minimum altitude: 3,600 m.a.s.l. / 11811 ft.
Maximum altitude: 3,700 m.a.s.l. / 12139 ft
Category: Adventure, cultural and ecological
What is Q’eswachaka Inca Bridge made of?
The ropes or q’eswas are made from q’oya ichu, a type of straw from the Andean highlands that is rather resistant and is collected at an altitude of more than 3900 m.a.s.l. (13,000 feet) high.
The Quechua communities of Huinchiri, Chaupibanda, Choccayhua and Ccollana Quehue meet from the end of May to work and stretch the ropes, or q’eswas. They subsequently assemble at the bridge and each family gives the Quechua master their contribution, which has been made by women and children.
In Inca times, maintaining the bridges was part of an activity called ‘mita’, which was a form of community service, compulsory for every citizen of the empire.
The renewal of the bridge is repeated year after year. About a thousand people from different communities, near the bridge, meet to renew it. The festivity lasts 4 days and involves all men and women.
- First Day: The ceremony in favor of ‘Apu Quinsallallawi’ takes place at the dawn.
Also, people from 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.
- Second Day: The old bridge is cut down. The most skilled men begin to untie the old ropes.
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.
- Third Day: This is the last day of work. A handful of men with no fear of heights tie pieces of wood to the cable floor. Finally, the floor is strewn with branches to give firm footing for beasts of burden, and branches and pieces of wood are strung to make walls along the entire length of the bridge. The weavers sway through the air with no safety harness, while they interweave the ropes provided by the communities. Finally, after several hours of weaving, a cry of joy is heard.
- Fourth Day: The construction of the new bridge has been accomplished and a celebration with food and music takes place.
Inkayni Additional Note:
On August 5, 2009, the National Institute of Culture of Peru declared Q’eswachaka Inca Bridge as a national cultural heritage site.
How to get there?
You can take the bus from Plaza de Armas in Cusco to Combapata. Then, you have to go to Yanaoca. The ride is very nice. You will love the landscapes. Once in Yanaoca, you have to go to Qehue and here you have two options:
- Pay a cab to take you to the bridge
- Walk. It is not far away so it is best to walk.
There is a 10 sol fee to cross the bridge, don’t forget your wallet!
Inkayni Peru Tours has designed a tour that includes the Inca Bridge and a visit to the 4 lagoons that are on the road that takes you to Q’eswachaka:
- Pampamarca o Tungasuca.
It is located in the districts of Pomacanchi and Acopia, at a distance of 104 Km. from Cusco, at an altitude of 3679 m.a.s.l. It is a water mirror.
You can appreciate different birds such as ducks, coots, herons, gulls, Andean flamingos, parihuanas as well as ccopos, tactacas, churchus, mayoalccos, pillcuycos, ajoyas and choqas.
It is located on the shores of the town of the same name. It is small and geographically belongs to the district of Acopia.
Here you will see pelicans and wild ducks.
It means “smelly lagoon” in English. Here a big amount of algae is found, which with sun exposure produces a strong smell.
Pampamarca (or Tungasuca) lagoon:
It is at an altitude of 3750 m.a.s.l. It hosts a variety of flora and fauna: two varieties of parihuanas, fish, batrachians, birds, insects, etc, due to the abundance of aquatic plants surrounding it. In this lagoon, competitive fishing takes place, and the water is sweet.
Let us take you on this awe-inspiring tour. The Q’eswachaka Bridge acts as a link between the past and the future, and it serves as a great example of the innovation and engineering abilities of the magnificent Inca Empire.
What is included?
- Private transportation (tourist bus).
- English-speaking Tour Guide.
- Tourist Ticket for archeological sites.
What to bring?
- Tourist ticket (not included in price).
- Sun hat.
- Sunscreen with a Sun Protection Factor (SPF) of 35 or higher.
- Waterproof jacket/rain poncho.
- Cameras and films.
- We recommend booking at least 2 or 3 days in advance. To do so, visit our website: Inkayni Peru Tours.
- Don’t forget to carry your personal documents with you all the time.
- Take some cash with you
- You can also find us on www.tripadvisor.com.pe
«Better to see something once than hear about it a thousand times.» (Asian Proverb)