A Japanese man found himself the lone tourist exploring Machu Picchu over the weekend—a privilege granted after seven months of waiting. Jesse Takayama had arrived in Peru in March with plans to stay for only a few days while taking in the UNESCO World Heritage Site. Instead, he became stranded in the nearby town of Aguas Calientes for seven months owing to the coronavirus pandemic, which saw Peru suffer the highest per capita mortality rate of any country, per the Guardian. Now that international flights have resumed, Takayama will soon return to Japan. But first, he was permitted to visit the Incan citadel with the head of the park on Saturday. "The first person on Earth who went to Machu Picchu since the lockdown is meeeeeee," the 26-year-old boxing instructor wrote on his Instagram account, per Deutsche Welle.
"He had come to Peru with the dream of being able to enter," Minister of Culture Alejandro Neyra said during a virtual press conference on Monday. He "entered together with our head of the park so that he can do this before returning to his country." Takayama, who still had an entry ticket from March, had submitted a special request for the visit. "Thanks to all of you who pleaded with the mayor and the government, I was given this super special opportunity," he said, per Deutsche Welle. He also thanked officials in a video recorded from Machu Picchu mountain. "This is so amazing," he said, per People. Neyra noted the site won't reopen to the public until some point in November. Only 200 daily visitors will be allowed, down from the usual 675. "We are still in the middle of a pandemic," Neyra said. "It will be done with all the necessary care." (Read more Machu Picchu stories.)