Couple Supposedly Missing in Peru Set to Return Home in the Next Few Days

The American couple thought to have been missing in Peru for the last month laughed when they heard about the worldwide commotion they had caused.

On Wednesday, Peru’s tourism minister was able to confirm that Garrett Hand, 27, and Jamie Neal, 25 were alive and in good spirits.

Tourism Minister José Luis Silva spoke with Hand, telling him about the concerns that arose when he and Neal failed to notify relatives of their whereabouts and went silent on social media.

Before they were found, the two had not been heard from since Jan. 25.

While Silva did not say how he contacted the couple, who are reportedly on the Napo River in the Amazon region, he did say that Hand was surprised to hear how concerned everyone was.

According to what Hand told Silva, the couple was having a “fantastic” time and enjoying everything about being in Peru.

Hand himself took to his Facebook, writing three simple words, "I am alive" – which provided a wave of relief for those close to him.

“We are incredibly happy, incredibly relieved, incredibly exhausted,” Hand’s sister, Larkin McGowan, told Fox News Latino.

“We thank the U.S. government and the Peruvian government for putting such care in finding him.”

Hand’s mother Francine Fitzgerald said on Wednesday she talked to her son by phone earlier in the day.

"I'm so glad my son is well," she told KCBS radio in California.

Now the family is just anxiously waiting for Hand to return home.

“We know that they are working on coming home” within the next few days, McGowan revealed.

Various family members of the San Francisco Bay Area couple had mounted a publicity campaign to find them, including on Facebook. There had been speculation that the young travelers had been kidnapped, possibly by rebels.

Back on Feb. 13, the U.S. embassy in Lima issued a travel warning to tourists heading to the country's famed Inca citadel of Machu Picchu and other parts of the Andean nation on the threat of kidnappings.

Peruvian officials, sensitive of their country's reputation as a safe tourist destination, said they had sent two officials to the Amazon to locate the couple and bring back proof that they are safe and sound.

Silva said the country for years had carefully crafted an image of Peru as a safe place to visit – and they did not want false rumors to destroy everything the country had worked hard for.

"It has cost as many years and much sacrifice to put Peru's image at the level it is today," said Silva.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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