News Machu Picchu opens for single tourist, stranded in nearby town for seven months during pandemic

Machu Picchu opens for single tourist, stranded in nearby town for seven months during pandemic

machu picchu
Jesse Takayama, a boxing teacher and travel fanatic, planned to stay only three days. Photo: Facebook
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A young, Japanese boxing teacher has finally got his wish and been allowed to visit the ruins of Machu Picchu after an agonising seven-month wait.

Travel fanatic Jesse Takayama began his journey on March 14 with a plan to spend only a few days in Peru to take in Machu Picchu but got stranded in the country during the beginnings of the global coronavirus outbreak.

“This is so amazing! Thank you!” Mr Takayama said in a video recorded on the top of Machu Picchu mountain.

His entry into the ruins came thanks to a special request he submitted while stranded in the town of Aguas Calientes near the site, Minister of Culture Alejandro Neyra says.

“He had come to Peru with the dream of being able to enter,” Mr Neyra said in a virtual press conference on Monday.

“The Japanese citizen has entered together with our head of the park so that he can do this before returning to his country.”

Mr Takayama, his entry ticket on hand since March, entered the ruins of the citadel built more than 500 years ago on Saturday, and became the first visitor in seven months to be able to walk through the world heritage site.

Mr Neyra said the stone ruins of Machu Picchu will be reopened for national and foreign tourists in November, without specifying the date.

The site will permit 30 per cent of its normal capacity of 675 people per day.

Local tour guide operator and photographer Flavio Huamani Quejia said it was a dream come true for the young man, observing it was a great way to end his adventure in Peru.

According to the Andean Roots travel agency, Mr Takayama, from Osaka, had held onto his ticket to enter the site since March 16 but the ruins were closed due to quarantine.

As the town of Aguas Calientes fell quiet and became almost a ghost town – being the gateway for tourists to access the ruins – Mr Takayama stood out as the “last tourist”.

He rented a small apartment and began holding yoga classes to pay for food and accommodation as his savings slowly dwindled.

“He’s also been teaching boxing classes to local children and going out to do sport to keep their physical condition. In Japan he worked at a gym and hopes to get his job back,” the travel agency wrote on its Facebook page.

Mr Neyra said the site would be opened with “all necessary care” as the world was “still in the middle of a pandemic”.