Crossing the keshwa chaca, a bridge made of grass, 60 feet above the Apurímac River. (VIDEO)

Curious and exotic places.
Feb. 22 2011 3:49 PM

The Last Incan Grass Bridge

The sixth hidden wonder of South America.

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In 1968, the government built a steel truss bridge just a few hundred yards upstream from the kewsha chaca. Though most locals now use it rather than the grass bridge to cross the gorge, the tradition of rebuilding the keshwa chaca each year still continues. Divorced from practical necessity, its annual renewal has become an impassioned, highly ritualized act of cultural preservation.

Today, the nearby metal truss bridge shows signs of wear. Its orange paint has grown rusty. Its wood planks are rickety. One of the metal barriers is badly warped from a vehicle collision. It was built as a permanent replacement for an inherently impermanent structure. But nothing is truly permanent. All bridges someday collapse. And it's not impossible to imagine that it may yet be outlived by its more fragile neighbor downstream, whose very ephemeralness seems to be the source of its staying power.

GoPro provided the travelers with some camera equipment free of charge.

For more on the world's wondrous, curious, and esoteric places, check out Atlas Obscura.

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In addition to being the co-founder of the Atlas Obscura, Joshua Foer is the author of Moonwalking With Einstein: The Art and Science of Remembering Everything, which grew out of a story he wrote for Slate.