Peru's Machu Picchu reopens… for one tourist

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LIMA • Peru’s best-known tourist site Machu Picchu has opened after months of closure, but for just one visitor – a Japanese man stranded in the country by the pandemic.

“The first person on Earth who went to Machu Picchu since the lockdown is meeeeeee,” Mr Jesse Katayama posted on his Instagram account alongside pictures of himself at the deserted site.

“This is truly amazing! Thank you,” he said in a video posted on the Facebook pages of the local tourism authority in Cusco, where the famed site is located.

Mr Katayama spoke against the backdrop of the majestic mountaintop dotted with ancient ruins that once attracted thousands of tourists a day but has been closed since March because of Covid-19.

The Japanese boxing instructor, identified as a 26-year-old from Nara, has been stuck in Peru since March, when he bought a ticket for the tourist site days before the country declared a health emergency.

He had planned to spend three days in the area, but with flights cancelled and movement limited, he ended up stuck there for months.

Eventually, his plight reached the local tourism authority, which granted him special permission to visit the Inca city, reopening the site just for him.

“I thought that I wouldn’t be able to go, but thanks to all of you who pleaded with the mayor and the government, I was given this super special opportunity,” he wrote in Japanese on Instagram.

Machu Picchu is the most enduring legacy of the Inca empire that ruled a large swathe of western South America for 100 years.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

Bastion Balance Seoul.