ABOUT LENCOIS MARANHENSES / BARRERINHAS:
Barrerinhas is the village
is where the visitors of the National
Park of Lencois Maranheses have its
base. It is here the airport is situated and the
road from Sao Luis end. It is also here most guest
houses are situated, used by those that want to
stay over the night. The distance to Sao Luis is
approximately 260km and take about 3,5 hours to
go by land and approximately 45min by air. Today
it lives approximately 32.000 people in the municipal
IS LENCOIS MARANHESES: One of the
most beautiful places along the Brazilian coastline
is National Park of Lençóis Maranhenses.
It is a “sea” of sand dunes that occupies
70 km of coastline and advances 50 km inland, and
its formation provides impressive views comprised
of countless lakes with blue and green waters. The
national park was created in 1981 and the entire
area of protection concerns 155 thousand hectares,
to preserve this very special ecosystem. As there
is no access by road, so the park must be accessed
by “jeep” (4x4) and always accompanied
by a local guide. Short journeys can be done on
foot, however for the longer ones, 4x4 vehicles,
or even the traditional donkeys are advised. The
strong heat can be compensated by refreshing baths
in the crystal clear ponds.
“Blue Pond” is the most famous and beautiful
lake, and there are two oases inside the Park as
well, the Queimada dos Britos and the Baixa Grande.
There are large mangrove trees along their banks,
and crabs & sea turtles can be seen along the
beaches. The ponds are also visited by migratory
birds, such as the ruddy turnstone, the blue-winged
duck and the tern that stop there to rest and feed.
To see this landscape is a unique experience with
no comparison in the world and it is recommended
to view the park partly by air and partly by land.
To see the park from an aircraft is spectacular,
simply an amazing view, and after a tour by air,
enter the park to really feel the atmosphere, take
a fresh bath in one of the lakes – just great.
Another adventure is to go by boat along the River
Rio Preguiças, until the river month, where
the river ends into the Atlantic Ocean. Here is
a small charming village located, named Cabure,
with several guest houses, where we recommended
one night stay as well.
TO GO / CLIMATE: It is possible
to visit Lencois Maranhenses all around the year,
but the best period might be from May to September,
when the water level and weather conditions are
the best. The climate is very hot and dry with an
annual average temperature of 26ºC. It is considered
“winter time” (rain season) during the
months from January to June, when the rain fills
up the "dry" lakes. By the end of the
year (November & December) it comes a bit windier
and the lakes start to be dry (some empty) again,
also with some sand in the air – therefore
good to avoid this part of the year.
HOW TO GO:
Barrarinhas is normally reached by land from Sao
Luis, a transport that takes approximately 3,5hours.
From this village, Packtours arrange guide tours
into the national park. Another way to reach Barrarinhas
is by air, via small aircrafts departing on regular
basis on Monday, Wednesdays and Fridays. A flight
may take approx 45min and is strongly recommended,
as you will visualize the park from the sky –
but it is an adventure.
HOW LONG STAY:
For the first time visitor we recommend at least
one night stay, to able a visit by Jeep into the
park. For those with some more time, we suggest
one more night in the nearby village of Cabure,
reach by small boat via the River of Rio Preguiças.
NOTE: It is possible to make a visit during one
day, from Sao Luis City, but it will be an early
start from Sao Luis and return at late in the evening,
and spend approx a total of 7 hours in a car…!
The adventure can be extended for those who wish
to know the villages deep within the Lençóis
Maranhenses area, such as Queimada dos Britos and
Baixa Grande. These journeys take from eight hours
to one day and demand the presence of an experienced
guide. One option is to go to the tiny city of Santo
Amaro do Maranhão, at the other end of the
Park – 100 km from Barreirinhas – where
the greatest attraction is the Seagull Pond.
To get to Lençóis, you must descend
to the mouth of the Preguiças River along
the coast, starting from Barreirinhas. Some boatmen
rent their embarkations and also serve as guides.
Another interesting alternative is to use the regular
line boats that make several stops along the way,
making it possible to get in contact with the way
of life of the riverside populations. The journey
is made along the river’s green waters, flanked
by dense original vegetation, where the buriti palm
trees predominate. Dunes and ponds similar to those
in the park arise along some sections, but they
are smaller in size. The riverbanks have tiny villages
formed by simple houses – some with handmade
roofs made of palm leaves – inhabited by families
The Lençóis area has large ponds,
such as the Blue Pond and the Bonita Pond. These
are very sought after for bathing because of their
crystal blue water. They can be reached by jeep
departing from Barreirinhas. To see the Bonita Pond,
you must cross the Preguiças River by ferryboat,
and then continue for two hours by jeep over a sand
trail. Upon reaching there, it is necessary to climb
a 40m high dune, with the help of a support rope,
of course. It only takes one hour to reach the dunes
around Blue Pond, and many people prefer to take
this journey at the end of the afternoon to watch
the beautiful sunset the location provides.
Flying over the region provides one of the most
beautiful angles to see the scenery. From high above,
it is possible to see the immensity of the white
dunes intersected by the colorful ponds. The flight
follows the Preguiças River.
River – This is the river that
crosses the Lençóis Maranhenses. The
name comes from its calm waters. It flows into Atins,
a large fishing colony – where it is possible
to find fish and shrimp for sale. It is surrounded
by native vegetation, especially palm trees.
Cabure is a simple, exotic and rustic place, bathed
by the Preguiças River on one side and the
Atlantic Ocean on the other, where you listen to
the Ocean in the light of candles. There are several
simple inns and restaurants.
A beach with 5 km of dunes, between the sea and
the Preguiças River.
or Mandacaru Lighthouse
From the top of its 35m or 160 steps, it is possible
to see the Preguiças River, the Lençóis
Maranhenses and the white dunes along the margins
of the Maranhão sea. It is located in the
village of Mandacaru, at the edge of the Park, and
it open from 9AM to 12 Noon and from 1:30PM to 3PM.
The Lighthouse is closed to visits on Mondays, Wednesdays
You can find hats, tablecloths, handbags, purses
and backpacks made of buriti straw. Besides the
little stands on the Preguiças River ferryboat
and in the city, here are some of the best known
and most sought after establishments for purchasing
* Artesanato London – Rua Inácio Lins
- open from 7:30AM to 10PM.
* Buriti - Rua Inácio Lins - open from 8AM
to 12 noon and from 2PM to 6PM.
* Kanto da Praça - Praça do Trabalhador
- open from 8AM to 12 Noon, and from 3PM to 8PM.
* Artesanato Rodrigues - Rua Domingos Carvalho -
open from 7AM to 7PM.