The Lençóis Maranhenses National Park, established in 1991, is located in the State of Maranhão. The Park covers an area of 155,000 hectares in the municipalities of Humberto de Campos, Primeira Cruz, Santo Amaro and Barreirinhas, having as main attraction its dunes, rivers, lagoons and mangroves.
The physiographic feature of the Park, due to the presence of a flat relief area, consisting of marine quartz sands and strings of immense white dunes, which resemble "sheets thrown on the bed", gave rise to its name (sheet = lençol)
The unit is located in the Cerrado, but it has great influence of the Caatinga and the Amazon with species found in these three biomes. Although resembling a desert, the region is bathed by numerous rivers. Its dunes can reach 20 meters high and the winds blow strongly reaching up to 70 km / h, transporting dunes and remodeling the landscape and creating interlagunary complexes.
WHEN TO GO
The eastern coast of Maranhão has two characteristic seasons throughout the year. The rainy season, from February to May, and the dry one, from June to January. After the rainy season, the Lençóis Maranhenses presents its most beautiful scenery, as the interdunar lagoons are full of water.
As the dry season progresses the ponds gradually dry, and in November they have a very low water level. But it is good to make it clear, this all depends on the year's rainfall regime, so it is always good to seek information with the National Park administration or with the local receptive.
The best time to visit the Lençóis Maranhenses National Park is from May to September, but the unit is open for visitors all year round, every day of the week, from 08h00 to 18h00.
The main cities that give access to the Lençóis Maranhenses National Park are Barreirinhas and Santo Amaro do Maranhão, but there is also access by Humberto de Campos and Primeira Cruz.
The main access to Barreirinhas, which is located 250 km from São Luís - Capital of the State of Maranhão - is by highway MA-402. The city has lodging and food facilities and several tourist agencies provide tours to the National Park and other attractions, such as the motorboat ride to the mouth of the Preguiças River and the waterfall on the Formiga River. Access to the Park from Barreirinhas begins with the crossing of the Preguiças River by ferry. From then on only vehicles with 4x4 traction equipped with snorkeling follow trip.
To get to Santo Amaro it is necessary to cross the MA-402 highway to Sangue village, and from there go through 36 km of sand tracks, accessible only to vehicles with 4x4 traction equipped with snorkeling . The city has inns and restaurants and is less than 2 km from the National Park, which can be accessed on foot or in vehicles.
For those seeking more adventure, another access route is via Paulino Neves/MA, however, this access route runs through trails, dune fields and beaches, and is accessible only in 4x4 vehicles equipped with snorkeling. This section is part of the Route of Emotions, a tourist route that begins in Ceará, crosses the Piauí coast and ends in Maranhão. In this route it is possible to visit 3 federal units: Jericoacoara National Park, the Environmental Protection Area of the Parnaíba Delta and Lençóis Maranhenses National Park.
There is no ticket charge. More information can be obtained by calling (98) 3349-1267, or e-mail: email@example.com.
The Lençóis Maranhenses National Park is a great destination for those seeking adventure and contemplation of nature, such as walking on the white sands of Brazil's largest dune field, refreshing in crystal-clear lagoons and watching the sun set . Those who prefer long walks and interaction with traditional communities may still venture across the dune field and have the experience of staying overnight in the oasis of the "Brazilian desert".
Blue Lagoon Circuit
This is the most visited attraction of the Park. After 12 km of trails in the restinga with a 4x4 vehicle, the tour follows the dunes field on a trail of approximately 02 km. Along the way the visitor can visit the Preguiça Lagoon, Emerald Lagoon, the Blue Lagoon and Fish Lagoon, the only perennial and that has water throughout the year. This attraction is the only one where there is permission to access in a vehicle (to the limits of the Preguiça lagoon), but only for visitors with difficulty of locomotion and with authorization from the administration of the National Park.
Beautiful Lagoon Circuit
Located 15 km from Barreirinhas, the attraction has a medium degree of difficulty, as it is necessary to climb a steep dune of about 30 meters in height. There is a rope to assist the climb. The effort is rewarded with the beautiful view of both the dune field and the restinga vegetation of the National Park. After the ascent the visitor travels a few hundred meters to the beautiful lagoon
Mouth of the Negro River and Green Lagoon
The route of the mouth of the Rio Negro is carried out by the beach of the National Park, leaving from Atins. The meeting of the Rio Negro with the sea is the main attraction, where the visitor can bathe in the small waterfalls near the sea. This attraction is available only when the Negro river has water, so please contact the local administration or the local reception in advance. In the circuit one can also visit the Green Lagoon, near the beach, which is 30 min walk through the dune field, and remains with water for most part of the year.
Distant 2 km from the Santo Amaro headquarters is the main attraction in the municipality, which is considered the most beautiful landscape of the Lençóis Maranhenses National Park. This lagoon is located in a nesting area of seagulls, making it possible to observe the birds. Access can be made by hiking or in a 4x4 vehicle. On the way to the attraction is possible to observe the lake of Santo Amaro.
This is a river course interrupted by the dune field. The attraction is in the village of Betânia, which offers some basic services. The variation of the colors of the water and the landscape with the field of dunes in the background, makes the visitation in this attraction a unique experience.
PRIMITIVE AREA - QUEIMADA DOS BRITOS
Located within the dunes of the Lençóis Maranhenses National Park, these spots of vegetation of restinga are true oasis and a perfect shelter for overnight for those who seek to perform a trekking. According to the zoning of the National Park, in these regions the visitation can only occur in levels of minimum impact, being prohibited the realization of tourist tours or to visit the locality in motor vehicles of any nature.
The oasis presents the greatest diversity in vegetation and birds of the National Park and they have bathing ponds for good part of the year, both inside the oasis as in the field of dunes.
WHERE TO STAY
Barreirinhas has hotels, inns and locations for simple accommodation, as well as restaurants and eateries serving local and occasional visitors.