Jul 1, 2010

Lençois of the Maranhão state: our wet desert

by Antonella Kann

As promised, I will introduce you to our desert: the Lençóis Maranhenses. They are located in the state of Maranhão and are best seen during our winter time, when the rainy season is over and the lagoons are full.

This endless chain of dunes is a stunning scenery which changes constantly with the wind. Don´t forget to watch the sunset from the top of the highest ones.

Hundreds of lagoons are flanked by these magnificent dunes, and that´s what makes our desert different and unique: it´s the only wet desert on the planet.

Some dunes measure up to 40 meters. The sand is as creamy as a béchamel cream and soft under your feet. You can roll down, or run down…anything will be thrilling. Moreover if there´s a lagoon at the bottom, with cool and translucid waters, in which you can dip and swim as you please.

Tourists are welcome, but as the Lençóis (pronounce lain-soy´s) are a National Park, guides are mandatory. You must hire one in the nearest town, Barreirinhas, which is also the main “gate” to the dunes.

It´s not an easy way to reach the entrance of the park, and includes a river crossing followed by a dust road only accessible by 4x4 vehicles.You´re unlikely to be bored, as there´s a lot to see in the region of Lençóis: little towns, rivers, wildlife and more. You can walk, hike, drive, ride boats and quads, photograph…And although it´s not a foodie destination, you´ll enjoy the prawns and fresh grilled fish. Don´t try to track down a fancy restaurant because you´ll get frustrated. Stay local and be happy.

Even if you´re afraid of small planes, don´t hesitate to do the flight above the Lençóis, as the shapes of this labyrinth of sand are impossibly beautiful.

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