All about the Inca Bridge of Queswachaka
What is the Inca bridge of Queswachaka?
The Inca Bridge of Queswachaka is one of the suspension bridges that the Incas made from icchu (a wild straw in high altitude geographies). How has it been maintained after more than 5 centuries? The residents of the communities close to this bridge continued to renew the ropes of this bridge year after year through a festive ceremony, which has its origins in Inca times; and that is the attraction of tourists. The bridge is suspended approximately 30 meters above the Apurímac River. It has a length of 33 meters and a width of 1.2 meters.
The Queswachaka Bridge is located in the community of Quehue, in the province of Canas in Cusco, Peru. The neighboring towns that also participate in its renovation are the communities of Choccayhua, Ccollana, Chaupibanda and Huinchiri. To get there you must take a transport from the city of Cusco. The distance by road is approximately 156 kilometers. Geographically, the bridge is in the Andes Mountains, at 3,700 meters above sea level (12,139 ft).
Map to get to the Inca bridge of Queswachaka
How to go?
Although most tourists arrive at the Queswachaka Bridge through a tour that includes complete transportation, you can also go on your own using public transport. For that, the following route must be followed:
- Public transport from Cusco to the town of Combapata by south highway (2 hours of travel).
- Public transportation from Combapata to the town of Yanaoca (30 minute trip).
- Transportation from Yanaoca to the community of Quehue where the Inca Bridge of Queswachaka is located (50 minutes of travel).
Keep in mind that in some sections there is no constant public transport, so you will have to hire a taxi. For this reason, the best option is to hire a tour that includes full transportation.
Most tours to the Inca Bridge of Queswachaka have a duration of 1 day (18 or 19 hours), include full transportation, tour guide service and food. Prices are approximately 120 Peruvian soles (40 US dollars) per person but vary depending on the tourism agency that performs the service. There are other multi-day tours that include a foray into a local peasant family. The prices of these experiential tourism tours vary according to the time the tourist spends.
A second option is to go on your own. Although the price may be cheaper, it is not the most recommended option since there are few transport services available to get there. Therefore, the all-inclusive tour will always be the best option.
Most tours to the Inca Bridge of Queswachaka include a visit to the so-called '4 lagoons', a set of natural landscapes where four lagoons of impressive beauty stand out, surrounded by the set of mountains of the Andes Mountains.
The Incas built an immense road network that communicated the most important points of their vast empire, which includes part of the current countries of Peru, Bolivia, Ecuador, Colombia, Chile and Argentina. In some sections of these roads, they built different types of bridges, such as: log bridges, stone bridges, floating bridges on rivers and suspension bridges made of vegetable fiber. The Queswachaka bridge is the last of its kind that continues to be used.
According to the chronicles, the Incas renewed the suspension bridges in a community work in which many people participated. This tradition kept the Queswachaka suspension bridge in good condition. Every first week in June, the nearby communities carry out community work involving men and women to renovate the Queswachaka bridge. This ritual lasts up to 3 days in which the icchu is collected, the braiding in knots and the assembly are carried out. At the end, on the fourth day, there is a festival with music and dances that are the attraction of many visitors.
In August 2009, the Queswachaka Bridge and the renovation ceremony that takes place each year was declared a Cultural Heritage of Peru. Today it is one of the most visited tourist attractions in Cusco. In neighboring peasant communities, tourists also carry out so-called 'community tourism'.
The community of Quehue, the place where the Queswachaka Bridge is, has a cold temperate climate, characteristic of high altitude geographies. The temperature during the day can reach 20ºC. (68 ° F). At night, however, the temperature can drop to 0ºC. (32ºF). The rainiest months are January, February and March. The rest of the year the rains are not so intense. However, it is always recommended to wear a rain poncho, since in the towns of the Andes Mountains it can rain at any time.
- On the first day of renovation of the Queswachaka Bridge (the first Sunday in June), the women are in charge of braiding the icchu into thin braids that when joined, little by little, become stronger and more resistant.
- On the second day, the villagers specialized in the work, carry out the dismantling of the old bridge. On that day, four ropes, the largest of them all, are placed, which are the base for the new bridge.
- The third day the lateral ropes and the base of the bridge are joined. This task is performed by more than one person.
- The fourth and last day is the general celebration of the settlers. The party is carried out with music, typical dances as well as lots of food and drink.