Paracas National Reserve

Paracas National Reserve - golden desert view

One of the stops on our trip around Peru was the small coastal town, Paracas. One of it’s big attractions is the stunning Paracas National Reserve. Think 3,300 miles of desert and epic ocean views from high clifftops. We spent the day cycling around the reserve and were constantly swept away by the amazing landscapes and enormity of the place!Β 

If you’re up for the challenge, we would highly recommend seeing the reserve this way as opposed to driving around or taking a tour! You can get away from the crowds and spend as long as you like discovering different areas and view-points.

Cycling in Paracas National Reserve
Paracas National Reserve - Playa Supay bikes resting on railing

To cycle round Paracas National Reserve we rented our bikes from Playa Roja Tours. The day before we had a wander around the town to check out the different bike rentals and, after trying out some bikes from here and testing them on the road, chose to go with them. They have a range of bikes varying in price depending on the bike’s condition. None of the bikes were spectacular, with the best ones priced at 30 soles. We paid 25 Soles for our bikes and they did well for us the whole way round. They were also open early in the morning so we could collect the bikes and head off when we were ready without having to wait around for them to open.

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We decided to have a pretty early start to make the most of the day and were hoping to avoid too much time in the midday sun. Turns out this is unavoidable and, even with lots of sunscreen, we still managed to get pretty burnt!

In the end we left the bike shop around 07:30 in the morning and wouldn’t recommend leaving much later than this! It takes about 15-20 minutes to cycle down the road to the main entrance ticket office. We were travelling around Peru with Peru hop which included the Paracas National Park entrance ticket so just had to show these. If you are travelling independently then you pay 11 soles at the main entrance.Β 

Couple Paracas desert view
Bike pose in Paracas desert

Top Tip

Definitely bring plenty of sunscreen and water with you. You’re basically cycling through the desert so it gets very warm by mid-morning. Regular sunscreen application is a must even if you’re not someone that burns easily! If you’re cycling, make sure you put sunscreen on the backs of your hands, ours were pretty sore and red the day after!

Playa Supay

Paracas Natioanl Reserve Playa Supay
Paracas National Reserve Bird in the sky
Playa Supay view from railings

The route is pretty easy to follow and well sign-posted. The roads and paths are in decent condition to ride along, with a few bumps here and there.

There is a big loop that you cycle around the reserve and the bike rental shop gave us a map to follow. We decided to make playa Supay our first stop of the day. At the ticket office you’ll see a road heading off to the left; take this and follow the (very) long path until you reach the sign for La Catedral and turn right here. It’s a pretty long cycle to start but the views are amazing.

La Catedral

La Catedral Paracas
Paracas Tuk Tuk

Cycle a short way down the road from Playa Supay and you’ll arrive at the next viewing point. Hop off your bike and see the remains of what was once the beautiful arch of La Catedral. Unfortunately, in 2007, an earthquake in the area destroyed the rock formation. However, it is still worth stopping off and admiring the view.

Playa Yumaque

Playa Yumaque viewpoint
2 ice-creams
Paracas National Reserve Playa Yumaque Landscape

Next up you’ll come to another beach; Playa Yumaque. It’s a quiet, long stretch of sand which we found was a good stopping point to sit and rest. They have toilets and a small shop where you can buy snacks. We opted for an ice-cream break before heading on.Β 

Top Tip

Until you reach Lagunillas, a small fishing village, there is no-where to buy proper food, only snacks. We bought lunch with us as we knew we’d be spending most of the day cycling and likely get hungry before we reached the end.

Playa Roja

Playa Roja cliff view
Paracas National Reserve Playa Roja Beach

If you’ve seen pictures of Paracas National Reserve, then you’ll likely have seen pictures of Playa Roja. The gorgeous maroon coloured sand is created from the red rock face of Punta Santa Maria depositing onto the beach.

In the loop that you cycle, you’ll head down towards the beach for a close-up view but, if your legs are still up for it, cycle/walk up the cliff to the viewing point. It’s worth the stunning views you’ll be rewarded with overlooking the beach from the rugged cliff face and, in the opposite direction, endless desert landscapes.

Paracas desert view boy posing
Kite-surfing on the beach

We decided that after Playa Roja, we had been out in the sun for long enough! We took the long path back towards the main road.Β  If you’re feeling more energetic than we were, then from Playa Roja you can head towards Lagunillas, a small fishing village where you can grab some fresh sea food! There is also another beach close by call La Mina you can check out nearby.

Sunset walk

Sunset over the cliffs
Golden shadow trek sun setting on the cliffs
Paracas National Reserve Golden sands
Paracas National Reserve boat floating in the water

As we said above, we travelled around Peru using the Peru hop bus service. Through them, we booked a ‘golden shadow trek.’ This is a guided tour along part of the Paracas National Park coast line. Its an evening walk where you get to experience the beautiful reflection of the sun on the cliffs creating a golden glow. As the sun goes down, you can watch the sun set over the water. The whole tour there and back takes around 3 hours and the walk is fairly easy to do. It gets pretty windy and cold into the evening so wrap up!

Paracas landscape desert view

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