Thursday, November 5, 2015

Lençóis Maranhenses National Park, Brazil.

Sunset at Lençóis Maranhenses National Park in Maranhão Brazil!
The Lençóis Maranhenses National Park (Parque Nacional dos Lençóis Maranhenses) is located on the eastern coast of the state of Maranhão by the banks of the Preguiças River, the park embraces the municipalities of Humberto de Campos, Primeira Cruz, Santo Amaro do Maranhão and Barreirinhas in northeastern Brazil.
It is an area of low, flat, occasionally flooded land, overlaid with large, discrete sand dunes. It encompasses roughly 1,500 km2 (580 sq mi), and despite abundant rain, supports almost no vegetation. The area became a National Park on June 2, 1981.
The shifting dunes with the lakes in between are most spectacular at low sun, when a range of shadows come into play. Just after sunrise is probably the very best because of lower temperatures.
Dry sands don't cater for much. Some tiny fish in the lakes along with very small amounts of pond weed, the occasional bird and some bushes along the rim of the dunes.
Best time to visit is May - September, after the rains, and before the lakes dry out. The almost constant breeze may fool you into thinking the sun is not getting at you so be super careful and remember to constantly apply sun screen!
Brazilian authorities recommend that you get a yellow fever vaccine before travelling to this area.
Motor vehicles are not allowed in the park, however, many agencies will offer 4X4 tours. These seem the best way visit the dunes - you have a guide who accompanies you.
Lençois Maranhenses National Park, Brazil.
Lençois Maranhenses National Park, Brazil!
Lençóis Maranhenses National Park in Maranhão Brazil!
Lençóis Maranhenses National Park in Maranhão Brazil!
Lençóis Maranhenses National Park in Maranhão Brazil!
Lençóis Maranhenses National Park in Maranhão Brazil!
Lençóis Maranhenses National Park in Maranhão Brazil!
Composed of large, white, sweeping dunes, at first glance Lençóis Maranhenses looks like an archetypal desert, but in fact it is not an actual desert. Lying just outside the Amazon Basin, the region is subject to a regular rain season during the beginning of the year. The rains cause a peculiar phenomenon: fresh water collects in the valleys between sand dunes and is prevented from percolating down by a layer of impermeable rock which lies underneath the sand. The resulting blue, green and black "lagoons" are surrounded by the desert-like sand, and reach their fullest between July and September. The lagoons have large numbers of fish that arrive when the lagoons are at their fullest after July, when they are interconnected to rivers such as the Rio Negro. One species of fish, the wolf fish or tiger fish (Hoplias malabaricus) stays dormant in the mud and moist areas after the majority of the water has evaporated, re-emerging during the next rainy season.
Many people reside in the park, as is also the case with nearby Jericoacoara. The inhabitants work primarily as fishermen during the rainy season. During the dry season, many leave for neighboring regions to work small plots of land.

Lençois Maranhenses National Park, Brazil!
Lençois Maranhenses National Park, Brazil.
Lençois Maranhenses National Park, Brazil!
Lençois Maranhenses National Park, Brazil!
Lençois Maranhenses National Park, Brazil!
Lençois Maranhenses National Park, Brazil!
Sand and Water in Lencois Maranhenses, Maranhao, Brazil!
Go there:
From São Luís is the easiest way: take a bus to Barreirinhas. There are a number of different tour companies that can arrange to have you collected from your accommodation in Sao Luis (hotel, hostel or even your own house!) and will take you by luxury coach to Barreirinhas where you will then transfer to a 4X4 to continue the journey to the national park.
You can also just get a regular bus from the Sao Luis rodoviaria to Barreirinhas, which is not expensive. The trips into the Lençois from Barreirinhas are very touristy. For a more authentic and personal experience, get the boat from Barreirinhas to Atins, and from there a 4x4 and a guide to take you to the lagoon.
From Fortaleza, either go to Paulino Neves or to Barreirinhas.
From Jericoacoara, two main options:
Get a 4x4 directly to Barreirinhas which takes around 7 hours.
Use Public transport. Get buses and vans from Jeri to Barreirinhas or Cabure via Camocim, Parnaia, Tutoia, Paulino Neves. It takes two days (one night in Parnaiba or Tutoia).

Get around:
No motor transport inside the park, but plenty around the perimeter. No real roads though, so you need a good 4x4. Horses and donkeys are alternatives.

To do:
Trek across the dunes, swim in the many lakes and ponds, be dazzled by the beauty, listen to the silence of the area. Go kayaking on the Preguiças River.
Aerial view from Lençóis Maranhenses National Park, Northeastern Brazil.
Aerial view from Lençóis Maranhenses National Park, Northeastern Brazil.
Aerial view from Lençóis Maranhenses National Park, Northeastern Brazil.
Lençois Maranhenses National Park.
Lençois Maranhenses National Park, Brazil!
Lençois Maranhenses National Park, Brazil!
Lençois Maranhenses National Park, Brazil!
Lençois Maranhenses National Park, Brazil!
Lençois Maranhenses National Park, Brazil!

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