Lencois Maranhenses National Park is located along the coastline of northeastern Brazil. The national park encompasses an area of 593.75 square miles (1,537.8 sq km). The park runs 43 miles (70 km) along the coastline.
The Itapecuru, Munim, Parnaiba, and Peria Rivers create the natural borders of the park along with the Sao Jose Basin. The majority of the park is comprised of rolling coastal sand dunes with layers of impermeable rock located below the dunes and valleys. This layer of impermeable rock prevents the low spots from drainage creating natural freshwater pools from the rainfall.
As the largest field of sand dunes in South America, the rolling dunes reach heights of 32 to 65.6 feet (10 to 20 m). This field of dunes accounts for approximately two-thirds of the park.
The park features two separate oases, known locally as restingas, that represent a unique type of coastal forest. They are comprised of acidic, sandy, and nutrient-deprived sandy foundations that result in medium-sized trees and various shrubs that have adjusted to this challenging environment.
Along with the oases, the mangrove and dune ecosystems serve as home to four endangered species which include the scarlet ibis, the neotropical otter, the oncilla, and the West Indian manatee. Although the park features only 133 species of varied vegetation, it is home to over 110 species of birds that nest or migrate through the park as well as 42 species of reptiles.
The pristine white rolling sand dunes and intermittent freshwater lagoons are spectacular and certainly serve as one of the park's highlights. The pools display varied colors of blue. The serenity of the landscape is mesmerizing and it is recognized as the largest field of sand dunes in South America.
The park is a great place for visitors to get outdoors and experience a different and unique facet of the world of nature. Birdwatching is one of the highlights followed by outdoor activities like horseback riding and canoeing.
Lencois Maranhenses is one of the most striking destinations in Brazil. Some argue that it is only bested by Iguacu Falls along the border of Brazil and Argentina.
Things To Do:
The park allows for hiking, swimming, canoeing, horseback riding, and surfing. One of the favored activities is swimming and wading in the cool water after taking an active hike.
Guided horseback tours are available to take you on a personal journey throughout the dunes and freshwater lagoons.
You can leverage quadbike tours for a more adventurous tour throughout the dunes and freshwater lagoons.
Lencois Maranhenses National Park Trails
Guided hikes are available traveling from Santo Amaro to Atins. You can also take treks around the park with camping stops along the way.
Guides & Services
One of the frequent ways the park is experienced is through an adapted 4x4 vehicle that features a canopy protecting travelers from the sun while have easy views of the terrain and landscapes,
Lencois Maranhenses National Park was created to protect the pristine white sand dunes, freshwater lagoons, and the ecosystem that serves as home to four different endangered species.
Lencois Maranhenses Highlights
- Pristine rolling white sand dunes
- Freshwater lagoons
- Culture Trip, The Ultimate Guide to Discovering Lencois Maranhenses National Park, https://theculturetrip.com/south-america/brazil/articles/the-ultimate-guide-to-discovering-the-lencois-maranhenses-national-park/, retrieved November 2022.
- ICMBIO, Lencois Maranhenses, https://www.icmbio.gov.br/parnalencoismaranhenses/visitant-guide.html, Retrieved November 2022.
- Smithsonian Magazine, How do Thousands of these Clear Blue Lagoons End up in these Brazilian Sand Dunes, https://www.smithsonianmag.com/travel/Lencois-maranhenses-brazil-thousands-clear-blue-lagoons-in-sand-dunes-180951756/, retrieved November 2022.
- Trip Savvy, Lencois Maranhenses National Park: The Complete Guide, https://www.tripsavvy.com/lencois-maranhenses-national-park-4172524, retrieved November 2022.
- UNESCO, Parque Nacional Lencois Maranhanses - Lencois Maranhanses National Park, https://whc.unesco.org/en/tentativelists/6261/, retrieved November 2022.