On our most recent exploration trip we checked out 3 locations and this will be the first of 3 blogs covering these latest discoveries.
The Qeswachaka bridge is the last remaining example of Inka style rope bridges that during the height of the Inka Empire, helped to connect all of the towns and important locations across the vast Inkan empire. These bridges would have been used by every one from the common people traveling the regions all the way to the Inka, and would have been used frequently by the Chasqui runners that delivered messages across the empire.
We started our drive from Huarocondo and took the familiar route from there to Andahuaylillas, and then from there we continued on to our first turn in the town of Combapata where we turned right and then continued on towards the small town of Yanaoca, here we would make one more turn before descending into the valley via a fairly windy road and then arriving at the bridge. The overall journey from Huarocondo to the Qeswachaka Rope Bridge took about 4 hours and covered a distance of about 200 km.
The journey was a fairly scenic one, traveling through mountains and passing lakes and rivers before ending at the Apurimac River where the Qeswachaka bridge spans the 148 foot gap across the river.
The construction of the bridge is very interesting as it is almost entirely constructed of ropes that are made from a local grass called ichu. The bridge itself consisted of 4 large ropes that support the walkway and two large ropes for hand rails, these are all connected together by smaller ropes to form the bridge.
The bridge itself is anchored on each end by large stone foundations in which tree trunks have been placed horizontally to provide anchor points for the ropes. The whole bridge system is amazing and really helps to demonstrate the high level of engineering skill that the Inka possessed.
Aside from the fact that this is the last remaining Inka hanging bridge that you can see, there is one more thing that makes this something worth a visit, and that is the fact that the bridge is replaced every year by the people of the local communities, despite the fact that there is a modern steel bridge not more than 100 yards away. By rebuilding the bridge every year the local communities have been able to keep the ancient skills and traditions alive and do this to not only honor their ancestors but also Pachamama or Mother Earth.
After visiting the Bridge we departed and made our way towards Raqchi, but you will have to wait for the next installment to read about this site.