Location: Maranhão, Northeast Brazil.
Day two of our 'Brazil Off the Beaten Path' adventure started early, with us heading into town (Barreirinhas) and joining a guided motorboat tour down the Preguiças river, which runs along the Lençóis Maranhenses National Park - to where it meets the Atlantic Ocean.
The same advice on what to bring/wear applies from day 1; light clothes, bathing suit, plenty of sun protection. The big selling point of this excursion is that if you want to experience nature but are not willing or able to hike the desert, this trip is perfect for you! Relax on a boat and just take it all in.
Oh yea, and there are hammocks involved, so keep reading!
This was my favorite excursion, as I LOVE being in and around water (I might've been a mermaid in a past life). The sights are picturesque to say the least: small fishing villages along the river banks. Sand dunes. Animals of all kinds. At times it was hard to take it all in, since we were riding speedboats!
The first pit stop of the day was at the village of Vassouras (Brooms!). We docked by 'Barracão da Graça' (Grace's market hut), for some souvenir shopping, coconut water chugging, river frolicking and dune climbing.
While the girls decided to hang back under the shaded hut, my uncle and I agreed to take on the dunes. It was a beautiful and windy day, so the trek uphill was a fun adventure. Look how far we ended up going - can you see the mini people on the left in the picture below? That's where we docked!
And back on the water road we went. Next stop was Mandacaru, a bigger village, home to an old lighthouse, which of course, we climbed.
As soon as we docked in Mandacaru we were welcomed by the village's teeny tiny tour guides; these children were bright and adorable, but it broke my heart that they were so young and already hustling for tourists' tips.
While we waited for lunch to be prepared (everything is freshly made to order) we walked over to the other side of the peninsula to find...the Atlantic ocean! The waves were choppy and the current strong, but it was still a great time. We found some abandoned huts ahead, and I learned some people in the area almost live a nomadic lifestyle, letting the wind, the dunes and the sea dictate their path. Poetic and fitting! The last stop of the day was at Caburé, where the river meets the Atlantic ocean. We docked at Pousada e Restaurante do Paulo (Paulo's Inn and Restaurant) and ordered lunch right away, as all this exploring will definitely open your appetite!
The rough seas, the sun, and a full belly will slow anyone down, and the folks at Paulo's are well aware and prepared for that... so behold, the hammock hall. Hammocks are a staple in the Brazilian north/northeast, and every time I visit my family there I request to sleep in one. (I'm an easy guest, no bed required).
We headed back to town with plenty of sunlight, since riding down the river in the dark would've probably been more adventure than I was ready for. Back in Barreirinhas, we still had enough time to enjoy ourselves and the gorgeous condo we stayed in. These two days in Barreirinhas were a dream for this nature lover, and I will sure be back to explore more of what Brazil has to offer beyond the beaten path.