Lençóis Maranhenses National Park is a natural wonder located in the state of Maranhão, with an unusual combination of tours of desert and oasis in Brazil’s northeastern sand dunes. It is a unique landscape of vast sand dunes and freshwater crystal-clear lagoons, which stretch for over 1,500 square kilometers, and it’s a must-visit destination for anyone who loves natural beauty and adventure,
The park is known for its extensive sand dunes sculpted by the wind into various shapes and patterns that stretch as far as the eye can see, interrupted only by bright blue and green lagoons that form in the valleys between the dunes during the rainy season.
To fully experience Lençóis Maranhenses National Park, visitors can take guided tours for a multiple-day trek through the dunes on foot. This expedition takes you to swim in the warm waters lagoons, sliding down on dunes 40 meters high, watch the vibrant oranges and pink sunsets from the top of them, observe the unique wildlife adapted to the harsh desert environment, and sleep in hammocks in rustic villages and learn about local community way of life.
By participating in community-based tourism, you can have a memorable travel experience while making a positive impact on the community, which is an essential part of the park’s ecosystem and its preservation.
When is the best time to visit Lençóis Maranhenses?
The best time to visit Lençóis Maranhenses National Park depends on your preferences and the type of experience you want to have. The park has two distinct seasons: the dry season and the rainy season.
The dry season, which runs from July to December, is generally considered the best time to visit the park. During this time, the lagoons are at their clearest, and the sand dunes are at their driest, making it easier to explore the park on foot or by 4×4 vehicles. The weather is also generally sunny and dry, with low humidity and temperatures ranging from 25°C to 30°C.
The rainy season, which runs from January to June, is the time when the lagoons fill with water, creating a stunning landscape of freshwater pools among the sand dunes. It’s important to note that during this time, some areas of the park may be inaccessible due to flooding, and the humidity levels can be very high. However, the park is beautiful year-round, and visiting during the rainy season can offer a unique experience of seeing the lagoons to their fullest.
Best tours in Lençóis Maranhenses
Known for its stunning sand dunes and crystal-clear lagoons, Brazil’s sand dunes offer several tours that allow visitors to explore the park and its natural wonders. Crossing the Park on foot can be a challenging and rewarding experience for those looking to explore this unique landscape.
The park covers a large area, and some parts can be more challenging to navigate than others. Check out some of the best tours in Lençóis Maranhenses National Park that you can consider if you’re planning to have an unforgettable experience in the park.
How to get to Lençóis Maranhenses?
To visit this unique destination, the initial step is to determine the mode of transportation to get there. The first step would be to take a flight to São Luís, the capital of Maranhão state, and from there proceed to the city of Barreirinhas, which serves as a gateway to the park, where most tours originate. To reach Barreirinhas from São Luís, you can opt for transportation by bus, car, shared van, or shared taxi. You can find a list of transportation services and their contact information here.
If you’re planning to visit Atins, you can reach it from Barreirinhas by taking a boat or a 4×4 vehicle. Check here for a list of transportation services and their contact information.
What to do in Lençóis Maranhenses?
If you’re heading to these sand dunes in Brazil, here’s what you can get up to:
- Check out the massive sand dunes! You can explore them on foot, and also enjoy endless hours of fun sandboarding. Or you can rent a buggy or jeep for a wild ride in Santo Amaro e Atins
- Take a dip in the lagoons! Like an oasis in the desert, these crystal-clear waters formed by rainwater are cool and refreshing, perfect for swimming, making them the perfect place to take a dip on a hot day.
- Catch the sunset over the sand dunes. As the sun begins to dip below the horizon, the sky is filled with vibrant shades of orange, pink, and red, creating a dramatic backdrop for the sand dunes and lagoons that make up this unique landscape.
- Experience the local culture by visiting traditional villages. Keep in touch with families that have inhabited the region for centuries, living practically the same way as their ancestors.
- If you’re into birdwatching, you’re in luck! The park is home to a diverse range of bird species, with over 150 different species, including the blue-crowned parakeet, the toco toucan, the crested caracara, the rufous-browed peppershrike, the burrowing owl, the white-naped jay, the vermilion flycatcher, and the scarlet ibis.
Taste of local cuisine! Head to a traditional restaurant or street vendor and sample some of the regional specialties, such as arroz de cuxá (a dish made with rice, shrimp, and a sauce made from local herbs) or caldo de sururu (a spicy seafood stew).
How long to spend in Lençóis Maranhenses?
The number of days you should plan for your visit to Lençóis Maranhenses National Park depends on your interests, budget, and the type of experience you want to have. However, to fully appreciate the park’s beauty and enjoy its attractions, we recommend planning to stay at least three to four days.
During this time, you can explore the park’s sand dunes, lagoons, and oasis, and take part in various activities, such as hiking, sandboarding and also interact with nearby local communities and learn about their culture and way of life.
How long is Lençóis Maranhenses?
The park covers an area of approximately 1,500 square kilometers (580 square miles). It is not a linear park, so it doesn’t have a specific length. Instead, the park’s boundaries encompass a large area that includes several distinct landscapes, including sand dunes, freshwater lagoons, and mangrove forests.
Can you swin in Lençóis Maranhenses?
You can totally swim in Lençóis Maranhenses. During the rainy season, the lagoons that form between the sand dunes fill with fresh water, and visitors can take a dip in the clear and refreshing waters with a pleasant temperature, which is perfect for recharging your batteries after a long hike.
What to bring to Lençóis Maranhenses?
The following is a list of items you may want to consider bringing on your trip:
- Backpack from 20L to 40L
- Waterproof bag
- First aid kit
- Personal Hygiene Kit
- Shorts and trousers or modular trousers
- UV long sleeve T-shirt
- Sandals or hiking sandals (optional)
- Ear protector
- Extra clothes to wear at night
- Sports towel
- Trekking poles (optional)
- Neck gaiter face mask
Lençóis Maranhenses National Park is a great place to unwind and escape the stresses of modern life. The peaceful serenity of the desert landscape and the crystal-clear waters of the lagoons create a sense of calm and tranquility that’s hard to find elsewhere. An incredibly unique, adventure-filled, culturally rich, and relaxing destination that you simply can’t afford to miss.
PlanetaEXO believes we can make traveling more sustainable one adventure at a time! 🙂 Connect with a local guide and come experience an adventure in Brazil’s sand dunes. Book your trip today, and get ready for an experience of a lifetime!