Keshwa Chaca is the old bridge, constructed since Inka times. The bridge of Keshwa Chaca crosses over the river Apurimac and connects the Vilcanota valley with hairpin curves. Every year the bridge is re-built by during a rebuilding festival. This is organized by the people of comunidad campesina living in Huinchiri.
It is a suspension bridge over the valley of the upper Río Apurimac. This bridge is made of ropes which are hand woven grass. As the bridge is handmade and it has seen the weather of whole year,, so it is very risky to cross. For the purpose of transportation there is also another steel girder bridge nearby. Thus it is not essential that this rope bridge be rebuilt for any present-day transportation purposes. Still the Quechua/Machu Piccho people maintain to rebuild the bridge once a year, as ever. It is their tradition, and by doing this they admire their ancestors. They perform their festival at this bridge.
The Old Bridge
The land sliding has destroyed parts of the Inka road and the bridge is now very not easy to trace. It can be, now located over the Apurimac river near today’s bridge at Huinchiri. The bridge on the Inka highway between Cuzco and Lima, crossing the Apurimac near the base of awesome canyons is the most famed of all the Inka bridges. It is several hundreds of meters down near the Apurimac river. The bridge was used by the Inka armies and the attacking Spanish Conquistadors too. After the take-over this bridge was used for about 450 years and rebuilt once or twice per year. Later another wire rope suspension bridge was built at a different location. With the passage of time it was forgotten by in the 1890s.
Discovery of Old Bridge
This bridge was later approached by Victor Von Hagen in the beginning of 1950s. It was difficult to reach the bridge from the Cuzco side because the landslides have destroyed major parts of the Inka road on that side. Still it can be reached from the southwest side (Lima side) of the Río Apurimac valley. But it still requires a local guide to locate it. There are many small tunnels one after the other on the trail of old Inka road. These tunnels are so small that they look like window and skylights. There is no other road near these tunnels so it is believed to be built by the Inkas. But Inka did not have horses and mules so these might not used by them. There are holes in the tunnel walls made by drill for enlarging the tunnel which was probably done after Inkas during the colonial times for the passage. Landslides have destroyed many parts of Inka road. But its remains can be seen from the track just below the lower end of the tunnel. A t the same point it is crossed by bridge and after that point it is destroyed by landslides. It is very difficult to climb the cliff to reach to the road. Due to landslides, while crossing, there are chances to fall into the river. It is only possible to reach there by holding the canyon walls.
Going ahead of the slide there is narrow inner ravine called pongo. It is the place of old bridge for hundreds of years. From here the old road continues. At the other edge of bridge (the Cuzco side) the bridge is mounted a place called estribo by the Spaniards. It is natural rock projection. If we look from the Lima wall edge of the bridge we can look straight across to the remains of the Cuzco edge of bridge. Now it seems like the estribo is just a few loose grey rocks at the other edge of bridgehead.
It is very interesting to visit the festival. Many adventure groups come to visit the festival. Most of the groups are local. A local adventure group named Rutahsa Adventures group come here each year. They fetch many things for the village children every time when they come. These things include school supplies, toothbrushes and toothpaste, and children’s clothing as a “mini-aid program”. All these things are divided into the children of four communities who participated in the construction process.
At the time of rebuilding the bridge a huge festival is held. It is arranged by the people living in Huinchiri. There are the four groups of official of the Huinchiri who are responsible for rebuilding the bridge. The main festival is held for three days.