Each June, for 600 years, 1,000 peasants from southern Peru meet for three days to work on the renovation of the last Inca bridge: Q'eswachaka, declared a World Heritage Site by Unesco. This traditional practice is the fundamental element of the cultural identity of the Quehue population and represents the link established with nature and history. It is an example of the wealth of the intangible heritage of the country.
For the peasants of the four communities that work in the construction of the bridge, the Q'eswachaka has a sacred character, which asks for a permit of "Apus" (divinities) and the "Pachamama" (mother earth) through a Ceremony ritual, where the priest prays in Quechua and offers coca leaves, a fetus of llamas, colored corn, cotton, sugar, wine, cigars and bells.
During this date, making use of Inca knowledge, the villagers collect the new material, dismantle the old bridge and begin to assemble the replacement. On the third day, the inhabitants begin the assembly of the railing and the surface of the bridge. After having finished the work, a great celebration begins where the inhabitants perform a festival of native dances in party mode. Finally, after having finished the bridge replacement, all inaugurate it crossing it.
The Q'eswachaka measures 28 meters long and 1.20 meters wide, being built to this day with ichu. This bridge served as part of the road system of the Qhapaq Ñan, having approximately more than 500 years. Tradition and customs are still present, accompanied by rituals for their realization. The Q'eswachaka is the last bridge that has survived modernity and continues to pass its ritual from generation to generation.
The festival where the Q'eswachaka is renewed takes place during the second week of June. This year, the festival will take place from 9th - 14th June.
Do not miss the opportunity to see how this bridge of more than 500 years old is built!
The trip starts in the city of Cusco with the pick-up from your hotel at 7 a.m. approximately in the south-west direction. After almost two hours of travel we will visit the four lagoons: Pomacanchi, Acopia, Asnaqocha and the Pampamarca or Tungasuca lagoon. After enjoying a quiet moment near the lagoons, the next place we will visit is the small volcano of pavilions that is located near the town of Yanaoca. Finally we will reach the Apurímac river and the impressive Inca bridge. This hanging Inca bridge is made of vegetable fiber (Ichu) and is located on the Apurímac River in the district of Quehue. The existence of this bridge dates from the Inca period, the renovation and maintenance is done once a year by the local people of the four communities that are around. Before starting with the renewal of the bridge an offering is given as a sign of respect and gratitude to the Pachamama. We will have the opportunity to cross the Inca bridge on two occasions, of course, if you have the courage to do so, it may seem easy. But without a doubt you will feel a great excitement to cross this bridge so much that you will feel like a Chaski (Inca courier). On the way back to Combapata our delicious lunch awaits us in this town where we will later make a last visit, the colonial Inca bridge of Combapata where you can see the differences between both bridges. This interesting trip ends in the city of Cusco at approximately 5:00 pm.