Lencois Maranhenes National Park
The Lencois Maranhenses National Park protects one of the most stunning landscapes in South America: over 570-square miles of towering white dunes, interlaced with emerald lagoons.
Spread out like lencois (bed sheets) on the Northeast Coast of Brazil, these sparkling dunes formed as river sediments of the eons drifted inland on ocean winds.
From January to June the desert valleys and flats fill with rainwater, forming crystal clear lakes.
Miraculously, fish, turtles, and crabs inhabit the larger lagoons at Lencois Maranhenses.
Fishing, Swimming, & Dune Buggies
Accompanied by certified guides, park visitors can ride dune buggies, swim in the lagoons, and enjoy 30 miles of deserted beaches.
Other excursions include river tours, wildlife viewing in the nearby mangroves, and fishing trips.
Lencois Maranhenses is most easily reached by flights from Sao Luis (3.5 hours from Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro) followed by a three-hour (150-mile) overland transfer.
The dune-backed town of Barreirinhas, located on the park’s eastern border, offers simple, yet comfortable accommodations and excellent camaroada (shrimp stew).
Best Time to Visit Lencois Maranhenses
The best time to visit is from May to October when the rains have abated, but the lagoons are still flooded.
Expected daytime temperatures hover between 85°F and 95°F.
Sun protection (including sunglasses) is essential.
“I had to live in the desert before I could understand the full value of grass in a green ditch.”