The Complete Guide To Visiting Paracas National Reserve By Bike

Paracas National Park is an untouched natural landscape perfect for exploration and adventure. One way of navigating through this unique place is on a bicycle and you won’t regret it as you fly down sand dunes with the ocean breeze in your hair. Here’s the complete guide to biking through Parcas National Park.

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How To Rent A Bike In Paracas

Renting a bike in Paracas is simple and most of the tour companies in town will have bikes outside for you to test.

 

Bike rental for the day should be no more than 25 soles. Always make sure to give the tires, brakes, and gears a good test before you take it out for the day. You don’t want to be stranded in the desert after all. The park is mostly flat roads but there are a couple of uphill climbs in which gears will save your legs. Ask for a lock from the bike rental company so that you can secure your bike up when stopping at the beaches in the park.

 

I suggest renting your bike the night before heading into the desert. This allows you to get up, head out early and avoid spending too much time in the midday sun.

 

The desert heat isn’t an issue as there’s a constant ocean breeze, but this breeze can reduce the perceived intensity of the sun and you’ll get burnt if you’re not careful. Make sure you take strong sun cream and top up throughout the day.

 

An alternative is to head out later in the day (around 3-4 PM) and stay in the park until sunset.

 

If you decide to do this just make sure you leave enough time to get back when there’s still light. Riding back along the main highway into town with no lights will be dangerous. The area is one of the biggest salt reserves in Peru which means heavy goods vehicles are passing frequently.

If you aren’t up for renting a bike, there are other ways to visit Paracas National Reserve both with and without a tour. For more options, head to the guide below:

 

 

How To Bike To Paracas National Reserve

From the town of Paracas, it’s around a 15-minute cycle to the entrance of Paracas National Reserve.

 

Leave the town and head to the main road  (PE-28 / Ingreso Puerto General San Martin) and head south.

 

It’s about a 10-minute cycle along the main road before you reach the checkpoint for the park. Here you have to pay your 11 soles entrance fee.

 

After the checkpoint, you’ll start heading up a hill with the Paracas Museum on your right this is your indication to take a turn soon. At the top of the hill, the path will split with all the trucks and lorries continuing right along the main highway.

 

Take the left along the dirt road Ruta a Lagunillas (you should see a sign pointing the way) and you are in the main area of park.

The Best Bike Routes In Paracas National Reserve

We’ve detailed three routes for you here: two short routes with less time on the bike and a longer route with a whole day on the bike and ticking off every sight in the park.

 

We’ve also made a basic map to give you a better idea of the routes to take – just click the button at at the bottom of each part.

 

The best sights in the park are:

 

  • Playa Roja (Red Sand Beach)
  • Playa Supay
  • Playa Yumaque
  • La Catedral

Entrance fee to the park is 11 soles and can be paid at a checkpoint along the main road leading into the park. If you are out early enough then there might not be anyone manning the point so just head through and maybe pay them on the way back.

Paracas National Reserve Bike Route 1

  • Timing: Half Day
  • Places visited: Mirador Istmo, Red Sand Beach, Lagunillas, Playa La Mina

Once you are in the park and heading along the dirt road Ruta a Lagunillas, after about another 10 minutes of riding take the left fork again up the hill to the viewing platform Mirador Istmo.

 

Here you will have an incredible 360 view of the desert. After that, follow the signs to Playa Roja for a nice enjoyable downhill ride.

Stop 1 - Playa Roja (Red Sand Beach)

Playa Roja gets its unique colour from the minerals in the cliffs. They are worn away by the crashing waves which then wash them up onto the beach to create the deep red colour.

 

Unfortunately, you can’t set foot on the Playa Roja as it’s a protected beach. However, if you come off the dirt road and up onto the cliffs before riding down the hill, you can get a great view of the entire beach stretching along the coast.

 

Once you are done up on the cliffs you can ride your bike down the hill towards the other end of the beach. Stop here and then look back the other way for a great shot of the desert cliffs jutting out into the sea.

Visiting Paracas National Reserve is one of our many reasons to visit Peru. For more great reasons, check out the post below:

 

 

Stop 2 - Lagunillas

Lagunillas is the small town just across the water from Playa Roja.

 

Although it looks close, you have to follow the road round in a half loop to reach it and this takes a good 20 minutes on the bike.

 

There’s a handful of restaurants here, with a couple on the water for a nice place to eat. This is a good place to stop for food or water and to get out of the sun for a bit. Try either La Tia Fela or Sol de Oro

Stop 3 - Playa Mina

From Lagunillas, you’ve got a bit of an uphill slog to get to Playa Mina, but it will be worth it.

 

Once you arrive there should be a parking attendant and you can lock your bikes up against the railings.

 

Head down to the beautiful sandy beach and take a dip in the sea to cool off after that tough bike ride. When you’ve had your fill of the sun and beach, hop back on the bike and enjoy the downhill ride back to Lagunillas.

 

If you didn’t have lunch then now is the time, or you can head straight back to Paracas and jump in the pool at your hostel instead. When heading back, instead of trying to slog back up the hill next to red sand beach, take the left fork before you reach it for a flatter, easier ride back to the main road.

Paracas National Reserve Bike Route 2

  • Timing: Half Day
  • Places visited: Playa Roja, Playa Yumaque, La Catedral, and Playa Supay

Stop 1 - Playa Yumaque

Follow the same route into the park as mentioned above in the first but once you’ve been to the viewpoint at Mirador Itsmo and Playa Roja, turn around and follow the road (Ruta A Playa Yumaque) to the left instead of following it down the hill to Playa Roja.

 

Once you see the signs for the beach you can either stop off at the mirador to take photos of the amazing views of the coastline stretching far into the distance or head down to the beach.

Stop 2 - La Catedral

Once you are finished at Playa Yumaque, carry on in the same direction along Ruta A Playa Yumaque.

 

When you get to a turning in the road, keep right and follow the cliff edge along the road called Paracas Catedral. Keeping heading along this road and following the signs until you reach the viewpoint for La Catedral.

 

La Catedral was once a huge rock arch dipping into the ocean. Unfortunately, the arch was destroyed by an earthquake in 2007 and it’s now a slightly less impressive rock island – but it’s still another great viewpoint on the route with epic views of the desert cliffs and ocean.

For more information on Paracas including the best hostels and other great things to do, check out the post below:

 

 

Stop 3 - Playa Supay

For more views of the desert coastline and yellow sand beaches, you can head down to Playa Supay which is right next to La Catedral.

 

Once you are finished here you have two options to head back to Paracas town. You can follow the same route you took into the park but this will take longer. Or you can head out onto the main highway (Ruta a Salinas de Otuma) and cycle back this way.

 

This option will be quicker and easier as the road is flat but you will have to deal with being overtaken the huge lorries every now and then.

Paracas National Reserve Bike Route 3

  • Timing: Full Day
  • Places visited: Playa Supay, La Catedral, Playa Yumaque, Playa Roja, Lagunillas, Playa La Mina

If you’re keen to see everything in the reserve then here’s a final mish-mash route that combines route 1 and 2 and will likely take the whole day.

 

Instead of following the main route into the park that I mentioned at the beginning of the article, take the other main road Rutas a Salinas de Outuma all the way along until you reach the turning for Playa Supay. It’s a bit of a stretch but it will be easier as you’re on the tarmac and you will have got the hard part out of the way first and early in the day.

 

Then make your way back along the coastline and stop at each of the places on the way that takes your fancy like La Catedral and Playa Yumaque. Keep making your way back along the coast until you reach Mirador Istmo and Playa Roja.

 

From Playa Roja you can decide your next steps. If you fancy having lunch in the park then carry-on biking along to Lagunillas or Playa La Mina, or if you are tired you can just head back to town.

 

I think this route is the best for seeing everything most efficiently, it just means more miles on the bike.

What To Pack For Paracas National Reserve

Riding your bike in the desert all day is certainly a workout. A few things are essential:

 

  • Phone with google maps or maps.me – make sure to star all these places on your map so you don’t get lost

 

  • Sun cream Factor 50 – keep slapping it on throughout the day. The desert sun is intense and the reflection off the yellow sand makes it even stronger.

 

  • Hat/cap – keep the sun off the back of your neck or head

 

  • Snood / Sunglasses – the desert wind can whip up sand when it gets strong so keep it out of your face and eyes with a snood and some glasses. The snood also doubles up as a great neck protector from the sun

 

  • 1-2L of water – biking will take it out of you so stay hydrated. You can buy extra water at Lagunillas or Playa Mina if you go there.

 

  • Swimsuits and flip-flops – for jumping onto the beaches and in the sea. It’s nice to have a change from normal shoes to flip flops so they don’t get sandy. Also cycling in flip flops is not a clever idea.

Staying Safe In Paracas National Reserve

  • As already mentioned, take a factor 50 sun cream and apply throughout the day.

 

  • Bring a minimum of 1L of water with you to stay hydrated, you will be doing a fair bit of cycling but there are restaurants in the park where you can buy more

 

  • Stick to the outside of the lane on the highway as you are going into the park as this is a road used mainly by large trucks for transporting goods. Once you’re in the park it becomes dirt roads and there’s hardly any cars or trucks around.

 

  • Download google maps and save all the places we mention in this post offline, so you don’t get lost in the park

 

  • There wasn’t any safety guidance (in English or Spanish) that we could see at the beaches. If you do decide to go for a dip, keep to the shallows as we have no idea what the currents are like. The best beaches to swim at are Yumaque beach, Playa de la Mina and Playa el Raspon.

For more on backpacking in Peru, check out our itineraries and travel routes:

 

Where’s your next stop in Peru? If your heading north then check out our Lima guide, or if south then you should be looking at visiting the desert oasis of Huacachina. 

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