By Corinne Marian
Brazilians call it ‘a Rota das Emocoes’ or ‘the Thrilling Route ‘; it involves travelling by cars, jeeps, boats and sometimes by trucks or public buses (if you are on tight budget). No matter how you travel from Lencois to Jeri , get ready to delight your senses with all things nature has to offer. From the Brazilian Sahara all the way to an oasis in the middle of the dunes, this fantastic journey requires a bit of an adventurous spirit, but take my word: it worth it!
The 1,500 km. trip – about 19 hours non-stop – should be covered in no less than 6 days; this will give you enough time to enjoy each leg of the itinerary. I suggest you reserve 2 or 3 more days to stay at the charming and quaint beach of Jeri. Best time of the year to go is between May and August, after the rainy season, when the lagoons are full.
The journey stars in Sao Luis do Maranhao (Stay in town a day or two to admire the Unesco historical “City of Tiles”, founded by the French in 1612). From there, travel to Barreirinhas, the gateway to Lencois Maranhenses National Park, a huge area covered by infinite dunes and natural crystalline water lagoons as you’ve never seen anywhere in the world – there is no question why Lencois is considered one of the Seven Wonders of the World. Take a relaxing bath at the transparent waters of the famous Blue and Bonita lagoons after you are done hiking the dunes.
Cross the Preguica River (Lazy River) by boat and arrive at the fishermen village of Mandaracu. From the top of the town’s lighthouse, you will experience an unforgettable view of the dunes, river, ocean and vegetation.
From Barreirinhas, head to Delta do Parnaiba and bathe in the Green Lagoon, the most beautiful in the region. Then off to Jericoacara and its many beauties. Pedra Furada is a big gate of stone sculpted by the sea and wind. Between July 15th and August 15th, the sun sets exactly in the middle of the hole, creating a wonderful spectacle. Originated by the rainwaters, the Blue Lagoon and the Paradise Lagoon reflect the eternal sunlight of the region, which gives them an incredibly deep blue color – bathing in these lagoons will give you a sense of being in paradise! And then there is the Sunset Dune – as the name says, the highest dune in the region offers the most beautiful sunset and sunrise you will probably ever experience.
The beauty of this itinerary: you can spend as much or as little as you budget allows. There are posadas for every taste and pocket, as well as different means of transportation. The hardest part will be to go back to civilization after spending so many days close to heaven. A truly unforgettable adventure!