Rio de Janeiro
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It is hard to describe what
we felt when we got to Lencois Maranhenses State Park. Nicknamed
as the Brazilian Sahara, it is actually much more than that. Where
else you would be able to find endless oceans of tall white dunes,
among thousands of cristal water lakes. Can you imagine a place
like this? Of course not, you gotta see to beliave!
Lencois Maranhenses State Park
have always been there, but not too many people knew it, and the
main reason is that they are located in a part of the country that
was until recently, almost forgotten. Today everything is different,
and more and more tourists who visit northeast Brazil and Maranhao
state include on their visit this wild and awsome landscape.
The starting point to a visit
to the park is the city of Sao Luiz, capital of Maranhao state. From
Sao Luiz you will take a fast air conditioned Van to the city of
Barreirinhas, located three hours drive from Sao Luiz. Barrerinhas
has confortable motels and inns, and is the starting point to all
the daily tours exploring the park. Actually, you can't visit the
park on your own, and will need to join those tours, which are held
by experienced local guides.
The touristic tour to Lencois
National Park is offered by many tourist agencies in Brazil. It
can take from two days to a week, depending on how long you would
like to stay and how deep you would like to experience it all. The
one day tour starts early in the morning. The first part is a short
ride on 4wd vehicles that take you from the city of Barreirinhas
to the outer limits of the Park. Along this drive we need to cross
Preguica River, which is done onboard very thrilling wooden boats
(see photo below). Then, as the trees are left behind we arrive
at the sand dunes. From there on, we are guided among the dunes
and the lakes. Every 15 minutes or so we get to a new lake where
those who wish can swim. There are half day and full day tours at
the Park, but always remember to take sun glasses, fresh water,
a hat, a lot of sunblock lotion, and of course, your bathing
Click on the image at rigth to see a larger version
of it at flickr.
Don't even think in driving
your own car at the Park. First, it is not allowed, second it takes
a very experienced driver to be able to do it successfully.
You will cruise through sand, mangroves, lakes, and streams.
Remember to keep your hands and face inside the
vehicle along the road from Barrerinhas to the Park entrance,
because after crossing the river, the trail gets very narrow, and
trees sometimes slash the vehicles severely.
The rain season happens on the
first half of the year, so the best time to visit Lencois
Maranhenses State Park is from june to november, when the the
volume of water in the lakes gets to its peak. Each
depression between dunes becomes a lake of crystal clear water.
You won't need shoes to walk on the park, because the sand it not
hot and you can go barefoot. Try not to stay way from your guide. No
one ever got lost here, buy you wouldn't like to be the first,
right? At Barreirinhas airport you also have the option to take a
panoramic flight and see the park from above.
Another nice day tour
departing from Barrerinhas is along Preguicas river. You will
travel on a confortable boat that will take you to the Atlantic
Ocean beaches, where the small village of Atins is located.
Preguicas river contains a
large amount of sand from its
beds and this is discharged into the Atlantic Ocean.
divides the Park into two
halves, the large park (Grandes
Lencois) and the small park (Pequenos Lencois).
On both margins of the river you will see
an amazing diversity of tropical palms,
like Babassus and the
This photo was taken at Mandacaru
lighthouse, near the ocean shoreline. From its top you can watch a
beautiful view of the park and the dunes bordering the sea of
Maranhao state. As soon
as we got there many children came to us, asking where we were from,
willing to take pictures with us. Most of the people living in this
area make their living thanks to fishing, and just now are starting
to get used to the increasing number of tourists in the area.
the most popular beaches in the coast are Ponta do Mangue
Moitas, Vassouras, Morro do Boi
and Barra do Tatu, all of them looking
like ecological paradise dreams that came true.
One more shot from from the Small Park (Pequenos
Lencois). Combined, small and large parks holds a total area of 383,000
acres, and of course, you won't be able to see
all of it unless you stay there for at least a week. If you are
looking for a lodge we would suggest
Pousada do Buriti,
which is a great place to stay.
One final shot from Lencois
Maranhenses State Park, taken from a window of a B737, just after
we departed from Sao Luis. If you are planning a trip to northeast
Brazil we would suggest you to also include a visit to this place.
It is definitely one of Brazil's
most important ecological locations, a place
where dunes and lakes marry astonishingly
well and form a landscape of unique
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