Spectacular Sand Dunes in Lencois Maranhenses

Apr 18, 2014

By the time we landed in Sao Luiz early in the morning I had no idea where I was anymore. Middle of nowhere is definitely what it felt like.

What we thought was a 2 hr bus from Sao Luiz to Barreirinhas – a small town that acts as a base for Lencois, turned out to be a 5.5 hour journey. We arrived exhausted and settled into our pousada.

Unfortunately Barreirinhas is up there with the worst/most boring towns I had ever been to. No restaurants were open until 7pm, it was uncomfortably hot and there was literally nothing to do. Full of hope for good weather we went searching for some tours in the sand dunes for the next couple of days. Most agencies offered the standard 5 hour trips and we couldn’t really decide on one, until someone in the street asked if we wanted to do an overnight hike. It sounded perfect so we went and booked it straight away.

We left early the next morning on a 45 minute boat ride on Preguicas River and were joined by our guide and 4 other Brazilians who were super generous in conversing slowly and clearly, so that we could manage some sort of a conversation. Our guide was a different story though – his accent alone was difficult to understand and the speed of his speech was beyond anything I’ve heard before.

We spent the morning exploring a small light-house town of Cabure, sun-baking and swimming on a beautiful empty beach and learning about all the different Brazilian fruit and foods from our fellow travellers.

L cabure beachL cashaca L readingAfter lunch, Lachie, the guide and I were dropped of at another beach where the hike would start. We trekked for about 2 hours through flooded paddocks, often walking in warm, brown, waist-deep water with no shoes. It felt like I was walking through cow-shit (which I probably was). Finally though we reached an amazing lagoon in the dunes where we had a dip and settled in our pousada for the night. We were lucky to get a room – they only had two, and the rest had to sleep for hammocks outdoors. The food on offer was only fish or shrimp, but it was one of the best dishes I’ve had in Brazil.

L lagoon Liv

After a hot, sleepless night we woke up at 7am, had breakfast and set off on our hike around 8.30am. To be honest, I had no idea it was going to be so hard. Walking on sand, up hills alone is not easy, but add scorching sun, winds, limited water and a guide who set a pace as though he was running a marathon and you get two struggling gringos. We are not unfit by any means, but our guide was super human and always about 500m ahead of us, making it super annoying if we wanted to stop and take photos.

L dunes L lake 1 L trekking

In saying that, no amount of toughness required for this trip took away from the beauty and uniqueness of the stunning landscapes of sand dunes and the aqua blue lagoons. My eyes were feasting on the colours and for 8 hours I didn’t see another soul, apart from Lachie and our guide. The lagoons with their crystal clear water were refreshing to jump into when it got too hot. I sort of felt like I was in a dream the entire time. AMAZING!

L lake 2L lake 3 L panaL water L

We finally arrived at our destination – Lagoa Azul. I was absolutely exhausted, thirsty and hungry… we pretty much hiked from 8.30 am until 6pm. However, the reward of watching the sunset over the dunes was all worth it, it was just stunning.

L sunset 1 L sunset 2

We returned to our pousada with all the other tourists that just came to watch the sun set on a day trip. It was really fun 4-wheel driving through the dunes and lakes.

Lencois was truly one of my favourite places I have been to. It’s unique and peaceful and beautiful. Definitely recommended!

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