I'm back from a week in the Lençóis Maranhenses national pak. It was simply stunning. My first access to it was from the town of Barreirinhas, where I paid for a tour. I was pretty disappointed though, as they didn't let you stay in the dunes for long, you were in too big a group, and some of the tourists were just annoying. Most of them were from southern Brazil, and two middle-aged guys said after a while: "well, when you've seen on lake, you've seen them all really", and went off to wait for us while drinking beers. I then took a 5 hour boat to the jungle village of Atins, where I managed to get a nice room for a very small price, which was nice, despite the hordes of mosquitos and the cocroaches that scuttled into my rucksack when I switched the light on. From Atins I was able to walk in about 2h to the dunes, alone. I planned to go to Caburé, a village on a strip of sand between the Preguiças (lazy in portuguese) river and the sea, but there was no boat to get me there for another couple of days. So I hitched
a ride back on a fisherman's boat back to Barreirinhas and the next day left for Santo Amaro, a small town only accessible through a rough track. Part of the trip had to be done using an open 4X4 truck, and even then it was a struggle as we had to cross many rivers and ponds that had been formed by the torrential rain that had fallen since February. The next day I was able to walk to the dunes within half an hour. So in case you're thinking of visiting the Lençóis Maranhenses, the best access point is Santo Amaro, hands down, although the cheapest is Atins. I walked during the morning through the dunes, but then saw that it was clearly going to rain in the afternoon, so I made my way back quickly and managed to catch a ride back to São Luis. We got caught in an enormous storm, and the 4X4 being open, I got absolutely soaked.
Anyway, it was a great few days. Walking alone in the dunes is a great, relaxing experience in a landscape I expect is unique in the world.
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