Machu Picchu Reopened for One Japanese Tourist Who Had Been Stranded in Peru for Seven Months

Machu Picchu.
Machu Picchu.
Photo by Pixabay from Pexels

As any well-traveled tourist knows, popular destinations tend to be crowded places. For Jesse Katayama, a worldwide pandemic and some sympathetic officials conspired to leave Machu Picchu virtually all to himself.

According to The New York Times, Katayama, a Japanese citizen, had embarked on a trip around the world when global lockdowns prompted by COVID-19 left him stranded in Peru for seven months. His destination had been Machu Picchu, the famed 15th-century Inca citadel located in the Andes Mountains. But like most public spaces during the coronavirus pandemic, it was shuttered to visitors.

This past weekend, Peru officials allowed Katayama to enter the site owing to his patience and desire to see Machu Picchu. The site, which typically hosts thousands of visitors daily, was all but empty save for a few tour guides.

When Katayama realized he couldn’t leave Peru, he rented an apartment, taught local boxing classes, and worked on fitness education exams. There was a brief opportunity to join an emergency evacuation organized by Japan, but Katayama thought the cost was prohibitive. He wanted to wait it out, and it paid off.

Katayama is now set to return to Japan. A reopening date for Machu Picchu is still pending.

[h/t The New York Times]

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The 10 Most Visited National Parks in 2019

Josiah Weiss, Unsplash
Josiah Weiss, Unsplash

The U.S. National Park System comprises more than 400 sites, 62 of which are national parks. Within the parks, visitors can explore forests, deserts, volcanoes, and more. But even with the diversity the National Park System has to offer, many visitors find themselves going to the same iconic parks year after year. To see the most-visited national parks in 2019, check out the list below.

This list comes from recreational visitation data gathered by the National Park Service. It doesn't include national monuments, parkways, or similar units—just the sites with the official "national park" designation.

The Great Smoky Mountains tops the list with roughly 12.5 million visits last year. Stretching across five counties in North Carolina and Tennessee, it's less than a day's drive away for one-third of the U.S. population. The accessibility plus the free admission and gorgeous mountain scenery help make it the country's most popular national park.

It's followed by Arizona's Grand Canyon National Park, which saw 5.97 million visits in 2019 to witness its world-famous views. Colorado's Rocky Mountain National Park takes third place with 4.7 million visits, and Utah's Zion National Park takes fourth with 4.5 million. Read on for the full top 10.

The National Park Service was established just over a century ago, and it's amassed a fascinating history. Here are some more facts about the United States's national parks.

  1. Great Smoky Mountains National Park
  2. Grand Canyon National Park
  3. Rocky Mountain National Park
  4. Zion National Park
  5. Yosemite National Park
  6. Yellowstone National Park
  7. Acadia National Park
  8. Grand Teton National Park
  9. Olympic National Park
  10. Glacier National Park