Visitors to Lima can cover a lot of ground in little time via a bike tour. // © 2018 Dana Rebmann
Feature image (above): A view of Lima from El Morro Solar // © 2018 Dana Rebmann
After landing in Lima, many travelers are in a rush to take off yet again for Machu Picchu. The haste and excitement are understandable, but Peru’s bustling capital is a destination worth exploring.
The largest city in Peru, Lima can be a bit overwhelming, especially for first-time visitors. For clients looking to cover a lot of ground in little time, or simply trying to get their bearings, touring by bike comes with an assortment of benefits. Along with crossing several landmarks off the must-see list, rolling through the city gives riders a better feel for Lima’s varied neighborhoods. A little fresh air goes a long way in the battle against jet lag, and the fact that Lima doesn’t see much rain makes taking a spin even more appealing.
Lima Bike Rentals & Tours offers a variety of adventures, from an easy and fun 2.5-hour tour through the Barranco district to a half-day mountain biking trek that covers 10 to 18 miles in Pachacamac, an archeological site south of Lima. But for clients looking for an activity level that falls in between the two, the option called “Tour 3: Along the Cliffs & Hike El Morro” sets a comfortable, active pace and uses a system of protected bike lanes and scenic trails.
All rides begin in the Miraflores district, where the Lima Bike Rentals & Tours shop is located. It only takes a few minutes to get fitted for a bike and helmet before hitting the road. The early stages of the tour are city-centric and thus a bit chaotic, but bike lanes make city riding comfortable. We left the heaviest traffic behind right around the first sight of the coast — and I realized how diverse and beautiful Lima’s landscape truly is.
The water serves as a backdrop for many sights. Built in 1900, the striking black-and-white striped La Marina Lighthouse (Faro la Marina) attracts the attention of both ships and cyclists. It’s just a quick ride from Love Park (Parque del Amo). In the park’s center is a large, eye-catching statue of a couple engrossed in a passionate kiss, but it’s the colorful Gaudi-esque mosaics surrounding the waterfront setting that will have you reaching for your camera. With an estimated 14 miles to cover, we couldn’t linger long, but our guide Cristiano, or Cris, gave us plenty of time to snap pictures and watch nearby parasailers prepare for takeoff.
The Bridge of Sighs (Puente de los Suspiros) is a landmark of Lima’s Barranco district, but as we rolled into view, it was the lineup of vivid murals along Bajada de Banos, a stone walkway, that had me begging for a photo stop, to which Cris happily obliged.
Throughout our ride, Cris impressed with his knowledge of the city and general Peruvian history. His explanations and answers were honest and realistic. Additionally, the tour route highlights many beautiful sights, but the climb to the top of El Morro Solar, a headland, also introduces riders to one of Lima’s poorest neighborhoods.
Biking up the hill to the top of El Morro Solar is the toughest physical part of the entire ride, but worth every bit of the effort. (I dropped into low gear and just went for it, and felt thankful for all those spin classes.) There are a couple steep stretches on the way up, but for the most part it is a slow and steady climb. Those who struggle with the uphill stretch can walk their bikes; stopping, whether to catch your breath or take a picture, is not an issue. At the top, a 360-degree view of Lima is waiting. Even on a cloudy day, the trek to the top of the Chorrillos cliffside is striking.
Toward the end of our ride, we stopped for an included drink at a local cafe; some on the tour had beer, while others went for tea. Again, Cris was a fountain of great information, helping me firm up plans for the rest of my whirlwind day in the city.
Plan on about 3.5 hours for the tour. Rides are limited to eight people, but the average size is five. Bike rentals are also available. English is spoken well by tour guides, so there should be no concerns about any language barriers.
Lima Bike Rental & Tours can offer 20 percent discount to the rack price for travel agents (minimum two riders). Agents should contact Lima Bike Rental & Tours directly to book.