Peru’s best-known tourist site, Machu Picchu, has opened after months of the coronavirus shutdown, but for just one visitor – a Japanese man stranded in the country by the pandemic.
“The first person on Earth who has been to Machu Picchu since the lockdown is meeeeeee,” Jesse Katayama posted on his Instagram account alongside photos of himself on the deserted site.
“It’s really amazing! Thank you,” he added in a video posted on the Facebook pages of the local tourism authority in Cusco, where the famous site is located.
Katayama spoke against the backdrop of the majestic mountain peak dotted with ancient ruins that once attracted thousands of tourists a day but which has been closed since March due to the coronavirus.
The Japanese boxing instructor, identified by local media as a 26-year-old from Nara, has been stranded in Peru since March, when he bought a ticket to the tourist site days before the country declared a health emergency .
He told a Peruvian newspaper he had only planned to spend three days in the area, but with flights canceled and travel limited by the virus, he found himself stranded there for months.
Eventually, his fate reached the local tourism authority, who agreed to give him special permission to visit the Inca city, reopening the site just for him.
“I thought I couldn’t go, but thanks to all of you who pleaded with the mayor and the government, I got this super special opportunity,” he wrote in Japanese on his Instagram account.
Machu Picchu is the most enduring legacy of the Inca Empire which ruled much of western South America for 100 years before the Spanish conquest in the 16th century.
The ruins of the Inca colony were rediscovered in 1911 by American explorer Hiram Bingham, and in 1983 UNESCO declared Machu Picchu a World Heritage Site.
It was originally scheduled to reopen to visitors in July, but that has now been pushed back to November.
Only 675 tourists per day will be allowed in, 30% of the number allowed before the pandemic, with visitors having to maintain their social distancing.
Since it opened to tourists in 1948, it has only been closed once before, for two months in 2010, when a flood destroyed the rail lines connecting it to Cusco.
(This story was not edited by GalacticGaming staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)