Barreirinhas, MA 65590-000, Brazil
GPS: -2.4857968142805, -43.128110194785
Covering more than 1,500 km², the Lençóis Maranhenses National Park (“Bed-sheets of Maranhão” in portuguese) is a coastal park located in the state of Maranhão. It was created in 1981 and forms a transition zone between the ecoregions of the Cerrado savannah, the arid environment of Caatinga and the Amazon rainforest. This protected site is nicknamed the Sahara of Brazil for the similarity of its sand dunes carved by winds from the Atlantic Ocean with the largest desert in the world. On the fringes of Amazonia, the sandy and salty terrain of the Lençóis Maranhenses National Park houses the largest dune field in Brazil (which occupies two thirds of the total area of the park within 900 km²). Called restinga, this huge dune set is typical of this humid, tropical and coastal area of the Northeast Region of Brazil (Nordeste).
Stretching over 70 km of coastline, the sand dunes of the Lençóis Maranhenses National Park were shaped about 15,000 years ago. They are the result of a natural geological phenomenon, born from the encounter between water, wind and sand. Having no equivalent in the world, the dunes extend even up to 50 km inland. Contrary to appearances, this geographical area cannot be qualified as a desert. The rainfall of the Lençóis Maranhenses National Park is indeed 300 times greater than that of the Sahara. After the dry season, it feeds a large network of salt marshes and interunar lagoons which shelters an unsuspected biodiversity. By meeting in the dune field, fresh and salt water create a multitude of ecosystems in a marine coastal biomedic area rich in dry and humid environments. This generates a mysterious nature where flora and fauna are constantly regenerating in an ephemeral environment. A total of 300 species of plants including herbaceous plants and two species of carnivorous plants occupy the restinga fields and the dry beds of the interdune lagoons of the Lençóis Maranhenses National Park.
It is between January and July that heavy rains add magic to the place. These heavy precipitation generate oases to the blue-green lagoons of fresh water, nestled between the large white sand dunes. Still preserved from mass tourism, the Lençóis Maranhenses National Park is also appreciated by the air. A flyby in a small passenger plane offers spectacular views to the contrasts of striking colours.