Can you tell where I am? I’m in Lençóis Maranhenses, Brazil, which means “bedsheets of Maranhao”! And it’s a national park like none I’ve seen before!
Facts about Lencois Maranhenses
The Lençóis Maranhenses national park is a unique white sand dune ecosystem interspersed with ice blue lagoons that change seasonally. At first sight, it might look like a white sand desert, and the blue lagoons may seem like mirages, but this is one desert where if you think you’ve spotted a waterhole to swim in, you have. In fact, swimming in these lagoons is one of the best swimming experiences ever, with no threat of chlorine or lochness monsters.
This beautiful sandscape lies just outside the Amazon basin, and hence receives regular rainfall. That’s what causes the lagoons to form here. The lagoons are formed afresh each year during the rains, and begin to evaporate once the rainy season ends. Needless to say, the region is best visited during the rainy season, although it is bound to beautiful year round. The area was deemed a national park in June, 1981, as a means to protect and preserve it.
According to local folklore, the region was inhabited by Caeté Indians, who woke up one day to find their town covered by sand. Mysterious, isn’t it? As of today, the region is inhabited by 90 men, women and children, who live in two oases, and change their habits seasonally. They live off the land, in palm-roofed huts, cultivating beans and cashews and raising chicken and cattle.
Since the paving of the highway in 2002, tourism has greatly increased, and the park gets around 60000 visitors annually. You’re free to relax and take pictures here, go swimming or just walk or bike around the sandy dunes. A definite must-visit if you’re coming to Brazil.