The National Park
Sand dunes in Brazil? When I’ve first seen pictures of them, I was a bit hesitant and thought that someone mislocated the place. But I was wrong. In the Lençois Maranhenses National Park near São Luís there are dunes. In addition, during and after the rainy season there are freshwater lakes between them! It was a must-see on our list.
We took a bus from São Luís bus station to Barreirinhas, stayed a night at a camping. It was not so easy to find the place, as our maps on the phones seems a bit incorrect and could not deal with the house numbers. Later, turned out that we walk the opposite direction in on the street, but after asking the only people we have seen they pointed out the correct direction. Finding accommodation in darkness is always fun!
Next day took a tourist boat arranged by our accommodation to Atins, where we spent 2 more days. It is a pretty touristic place, either local enjoying their vacation house there or doing business: restaurants, tour operators and of course different, but all quite expensive accommodation providers.
A cheaper way to see the dunes is by foot, either from Barreirinhas or Santo Amaro do Maranhão, but after our stomach problems, it was out of the question to walk 20+ km in the ‘desert’. Karol still didn’t get totally well.
The lost camera
So, we took the tourist boat which stopped at several places, mostly on beaches from where we had our first walks on dunes and met with a few monkeys (!!!) as well. We’ve visited a lighthouse as well before we were dropped at ‘the port’ of Atins. I write ‘port’, because besides that some boat were anchored there, do not expect anything more. Just water.
And that was the moment when I wanted to take a picture of it. We realized we don’t have our camera with us anymore! Yay! Quick thinking, when did we use it last time? In a hammock on the previous beach full with tourist. We might have dropped to the sand or left it there. The communication was still pretty hard as our Portuguese did not improve much during the last weeks, but managed to stop a boat before they left, and they called to someone on the beach. Karol went back with the tourists who were on the excursion, while I was waiting on the shore with a guy and a jeep for him to return. I thought that probably someone took it already and we lost all our pictures. Probably we should have taken some of the shitty phone pictures at least. But I was surprisingly calm. We can’t really do anything more. After half an hour, a boat came with Karol and we had our camera back! We got back our pictures! Time to explore the settlement and go swimming in the Atlantic Ocean!
Trips to the sand dunes
We had some walks on the seaside and swim in the really warm water. Next day we paid for an excursion when they took us into the middle of the desert for a trip there. Of course, they tried to sell some more trips and ‘surprisingly’ all the prices went higher than what we agreed when booking the trip, but we did pretty well and paid the earlier agreed amount for the one we took part in. I am sure it happens in every touristy place, not only here, but stand up for yourself if you are in this situation, never pay more! Besides that, we had some nice walks around as well. For free 🙂 It was enjoyable to walk in the warm water while parrots were flying around. The beach was pretty empty as it is remote, but that’s what we liked! No need to worry and just leave your stuff on the shore while you are taking a swim.
The sand dunes with the lakes were amazing! I really enjoyed swimming in them, the water was clear. Apparently, the adventures with our camera were not over because I managed to drop to the sand and it also got some water… After some cleaning and drying, it started to work again next day.
On the way back from Atins there was some miscommunication and the guy who should have picked us up by boat forgot about us, but the owner of the pousada where we stayed arranged us a quad (!) for the same price as the boat. We have been traveling through the dunes and managed to catch our afternoon bus to São Luís. It was another fun. Imagine that there is a quad, a driver, the two of us and our two (luckily only small) backpacks attached to the quad and you pass the dunes for 20 km. What a journey!