There’s a place in Brazil where we can get our feet wet in the middle of the desert. An immense plain where sunsets take your breath away. A hidden corner in Latin America that perfectly combines the blue of the water with the white of the sand: Lençóis Maranhenses National Park.
This giant “desert” (which isn’t strictly a desert) was established 1981 and is located in the Maranhão littoral (between the Barreirinhas and Primeira Cruz municipalities). Its 1.550 km² surface has pluvial lakes in different shapes and sizes, surrounded by an infinity of white sand dunes that can measure up to 20 m in height.
The landscape is ever changing: the wind in the area effortlessly draws waves in the sand, constantly modifying the shape of the dunes. The sand isn’t hot, despite the hot and semi-humid climate.
And even though it possesses that typical loneliness of “real” deserts, this national park is full of life. There are fishes, sea turtles, crabs and birds that live there.
Much more than a walk and a swim
Contemplating this stunning panorama can certainly be enough for most. However, amidst the immensity, there are many things you can do (apart from walking around and swimming). In these plains, there aren’t only contrasting colors, but many different activities!
Those who love horses han ride through the dunes, and those who love the sea can take advantage of the strong winds and go windsurfing. Those who wish to travel longer distances can do so with motorized vehicles previously authorized by the Chico Mendes Institute (ICMbio).
During tours, you can see the beautiful pluvial lakes in a variety of blue and green hues, like the Emerald Lake and the Blue Lagoon, two of the most visited spots in Lençóis Maranhenses National Park. Though many only get to the Rio Preguiças, called the lazy river because of its languid meandering, and because it’s the closest one. You can also go to the Lake of the Fish, the only one that always has water and fishes.
How to get to Lençóis Maranhenses National Park
This magical place is near Barreirinhas. From there, there are tours that leave by land and by sea. If you prefer to drive, you need to start from San Luis (the state’s capital), and you’ll get to the park in approximately 3 hours. If you take the bus, you’ll take a little longer.
However, the best choice is to take a plane from San Luis. This way, you’ll save time (the flight is only 50 minutes) and you’ll get to appreciate the park’s landscape from above: a truly majestic sight.
Best months to visit: June, July and August
According to the Brazilian Tourism Institute (Embratur), Lençóis Maranhenses National Park gets 300 times more rain than the Sahara desert. But if you want to take a dive into its natural pools, you have to know when to visit.
The ideal date is towards the end of the rainy season, which ends in the middle of the year. That’s why, if you want to bathe in the waters of this park, you have to go between July and August. Don’t forget to bring light clothing, sunglasses and sunscreen: there’s no shade there to stay away from the sun. Of course, you mustn’t forget your camera, and some bug spray.
Without a doubt, Lençóis Maranhenses National Park is one of the “must visit” attractions we have to get to at least once in life. Saying it’s one of the most impressive destinations in the world is no exaggeration. Benefit from the fact that mass tourism has not reached this wondrous park and recharge your energies in this beautifully surreal place.