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Lencois Maranhenses


This park is one of the most beautiful and most overlooked in South America. I really had good luck in booking a trip with VIP Tours where I had my own guide and driver. We got to drive through the park instead of walking, which is not usually allowed. Also, this great company, which I have used on three Brazilian trips, set me up to do aerial imagery of the park, which is, at last report, no longer allowed. I’m not sure about drones. This is very sad, because aerials of the park can be stunning.

Basically what is happening at this remote park is that fresh water from the Amazon Basin is trapped in an area of sand dunes near the Atlantic Ocean and is impounded by them before reaching the sea.  Most of the water has tannic acid and other agents that color some ponds vibrant red and green. Also, mosquito larvae can’t live well in these ponds, so mosquitos are fairly rare in a place where bad diseases would be common with normal stagnant water. Lakes abound by the thousands when the water is running, and timing is very important. Not enough water and there are no ponds, too much and the water becomes raging  rivers. I chose early June, which is usually a pretty good bet and one of the cooler months of the year. Subjects include dune patterns, blue ponds, the colorful ponds, and the often pure white sand landscapes.

This is a wilderness park without much infrastructure. Staying in a small hotel near the park introduced me to the rather unpleasant experience of toilet frogs. I’ll let you imagine it. There is pretty long drive to the nearest airport and town of Sao Luis, a colonial UNESCO site. I stayed in the old town area which was quite beautiful, and had good hotels and food.


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