Brazil has so many undiscovered and beautiful destinations, here are a few of them in the state of Maranhao (MA), in the northeast.
I still have a ton of family in that area, and I miss them dearly. When I was there a few years ago, B.C. (Before Child) we went on an overnight eco-tour excursion that left me amazed, replenished and ready for more.
WHAT - Lençóis Maranhenses National Park - loosely translated to the Maranhenses Bedsheets, referring to the smooth sand dunes! According to their website, the park covers 155,000 acres of untouched nature, dunes, lagoons, and 43 miles (70 km) of beach.
WHERE - The park covers the towns of Barreirinhas, Humberto de Campos and Primeira Cruz. We drove for about 4 hours from the capital, Sao Luis, but there are chartered buses, vans, and single/double engine planes that can also get you there. The park entrance is 1.2 miles (2 km) from Barreirinhas, across the Rio Preguicas, which we crossed by ferry.
WHEN TO GO - The park is open year-round, but the natural lagoons are formed by rainwater accumulation, and if you go during the dry months, as we did, you might have to walk longer to find the few surviving ponds. It rains throughout the first half of the year, from December to June, and the rains usually end just before the start of the June festivals (start of the high season in Maranhão). Ideally, go right after the rainy season.
WHAT TO TAKE - For the excursion, bring and wear as little as possible: a light pack with snacks, water and a camera; wear shorts, t-shirts, sandals, a bathing suit and DEFINITELY a hat, sunglasses and sunscreen. It's the desert and there are no shaded areas to hide from the sun.
FINAL NOTE: Never go to the Lençóis Maranhenses without a guide, whether by 4x4 or boat; these guides are folks who grew up in the area and know it like the back of their hands. The park is rustic, the nature untouched and the dunes go as far as the eye can see. It's dangerous to explore alone!
And obviously, I emphasize the importance of preserving nature. - The Lençóis Maranhenses National Park is protected by the Brazilian Institute of Environment and Renewable Natural Resources (IBAMA).