Two 20-year-old Canadian backpackers were briefly detained this week by Peruvian authorities, who accuse them of trying to emulate young tourists who have recently taken to streaking in the ancient Inca city of Machu Picchu.
The two Canadians and two Australians were taken into custody in two separate incidents Wednesday morning. They are alleged to have tried to record images of themselves in the nude amid the famous mountaintop ruins, said a press release from the Peruvian Culture Ministry.
The Spanish-language communiqué described the alleged streaking as “two disrespectful acts committed by visitors in sacred places.”
Authorities are now expected to post signs warning tourists that they will be kicked out of the site if they take off their clothes.
“The place you are visiting is a sacred space, icon of our national identity,” the Cuzco directorate of the Peruvian Culture Ministry said in a notice that was made public after Wednesday’s events.
“Any obscene, profane act or nudity, against the sacredness of the site, will be severely punished by expulsion and reporting the incident to the embassy of the offender.”
The incidents came as images of naked travellers posing or dashing through Machu Picchu are appearing on YouTube and Facebook.
The press release identified the two Canadians as Marc Antonie Daudelin and Patrice Mathien.
The names appear to parallel those of Marc-Antoine Daudelin and Patrice Mathieu, two Quebeckers whose Facebook profiles indicate that they are currently backpacking in Peru.
“Once junior college is over, a trip is needed to enjoy life and discover a different world and reality,” Mr. Mathieu wrote a month ago on an album of his travel.
The album includes a photo of the two surfing and watching the sun set over the Peruvian capital, Lima.
Neither the two men nor their relatives could be contacted immediately.
The press release said the incidents happened early Wednesday.
The two Canadians were at the back of a group of ruins knowns as the Three Doors, around 8:15 a.m., and are alleged to have taken a nude photo of themselves on a cellphone.
Earlier, around 6:20 a.m., the authorities caught two Australians, Thomas William Halse, 22, and Sam Adrian Parnell, 24, who are alleged to have been videotaping themselves naked near a landmark known as the Guardian House.
An officer at the Machu Picchu police station told Agence France-Presse that the four tourists were released after several hours and that the Australians’ camcorder and the Canadians’ iPhone were seized.
The incident involving the Canadians came a day after the Peruvian Culture Ministry posted a note on its website condemning streakers as attention-seekers whose attitude “contributes nothing to building a society of values, tolerance and inclusion.”