Dazzling Dunes and Lagoons in the Desert: Bizarre Beauty in Brazil [29 PICS]

June 7th, 2014 Permalink

In Brazil, there is an very unusual national park in the desert. While you might expect to see rolling white sand dunes, you would not expect to see the area dotted with lagoons created by rainwater. Here’s a look at those dunes and lagoons in Lençóis Maranhenses National Park. [29 Photos]

Lençois Maranhenses, the Paradise of the dunes

Lençois Maranhenses is called a desert, but it’s not really. Instead paradise lagoons are hidden among the rolling white dunes. Photo #1 by LCjournal

Lencois Maranhenses National Park

You are here, high above northeastern Brazil looking at Lencois Maranhenses National Park. Photo #2 by Nokia / Earthstar Geographics SIO / Microsoft

Lagoons in the desert

“Countless” lagoons form over 1500 square kilometers, roughly 580 square miles, of the national park during the rainy season. Despite all that water, there is almost no plant life. Photo #3 by Nokia / Earthstar Geographics SIO / Microsoft

Zoom in, adjust color, Lencois Maranhenses National Park

Zooming in Lencois Maranhenses National Park. Rainy season is from December to June, with the rain usually stopping before June festivals. The lagoons reach their fullest between July and September, but people can visit at any time of the year. Photo #4 by Nokia / Earthstar Geographics SIO / Microsoft

Zoom in lagoons in the desert

Zoom in to view lagoons surrounded by desert sand, with some dunes reaching over 40 feet in height. Photo #5 by Nokia / Earthstar Geographics SIO / Microsoft

Beaches and Dunes, Desert Oasis in Brazil

Beaches and Dunes, this oasis in Brazil is located just outside the Amazon Basin. That means there are rainy seasons, something that most deserts do not have. The fresh water collects in the valleys between sand dunes. Photo #6 by LCjournal

Lencois Maranhenses National Park lagoons in the desert

Lencois Maranhenses National Park lagoons are filled by the accumulation of rainwater, but how much depends upon the time of year and if the season was dry. The condition of the ponds, or volume of water in the main lagoons are noted for Blue Lagoon, Pond Sloth, Pond of Peace, Emerald Pond, Bonita Lagoa, Pond Clone and Curlew Pond. Only Lagoa do Peixe mentions “pond full of fish.” Photo #7 by LCjournal

Lagoa Bonita

The two most famous lagoons for swimming in this Brazilian Sahara are called Lagoa Azul (Blue Lagoon) and Lagoa Bonita (Beauty Lagoon). Photo #8 by Sylvain Bourdos

Flipping for Lençois Maranhenses

Flipping for Lençois Maranhenses where the area gets over 300 times more rain than the great Sahara desert in Africa. Photo #9 by Reinhart Gruhn

Curves and pool in the desert at Lençois Maranhenses

Curves and a pool in the desert. Under “get around,” WikiVoyage wrote, “No motor transport inside the park, but plenty around the perimeter. No real roads though, so you need a good 4×4. Horses and donkeys are alternatives.” Photo #10 by Sylvain Bourdos

Lencois Maranhenses shifting sand dunes and hidden rainwater lakes

The photographer wrote, “On a lonely walk in the immensity of the Lençois (literally the ‘sheets’). Rare are the footprints of other lost souls, and rainwater lakes hidden behind each dune offer so many refreshing opportunities.” Photo #11 by Sylvain Bourdos

Maranhenses National Park is one of the most coveted destinations in Brazil

Lencois Maranhenses National Park is one of the most coveted destinations in Brazil, but one visitor had such an unpleasant experience that the travel blog warns NOT to visit the dunes via Barreirinhas. That’s allegedly where the “most common daytrip is just visiting the main lagoon, Lagoa do Peixe, where at times can be visited by over 80 4X4 cars with over 10 passengers each!” Instead for a real Lencois experience start your day trip 4X4 tour via to Atins or Santo Amaro. Photo #12 by Danielle Pereira

View of lagoons in the desert

View of lagoons in the desert. During the dry season, many of the smaller lagoons evaporate and the dunes seem to belong to a “normal” desert. Local people who make their living by fishing the lagoons or via eco-tourism, pick up and move during dry season. They temporarily rent plots of land outside of the desert to grow crops. Photo #13 by Raphael Pizzino

Lencois Maranhenses

Again and again, people recommended visiting during sunrise and sunset. Photo #14 by Otávio Nogueira

Desert huts on the rainwater lakes in Lencois Maranhenses

Desert huts on the rainwater lakes in Lencois Maranhenses. Photo #15 by Ana Elisa Ribeiro

Alone in the desert, looking for oasis at Lencois Maranhenses

Alone in the desert, looking for oasis at Lencois Maranhenses. Photo #16 by Roberto Tietzmann

Between the river and the sky, lagoons in the Brazilian desert

Many people live in the Brazilian desert as the “national park” status is primarily concerned with protecting the area’s ecology. Photo #17 by Barbara Eckstein

Brazil, Lençois Maranhenses

Wikipedia states, “The lagoons have large numbers of fish when the lagoons become their fullest after July, and are often interconnected to rivers such as the Rio Negro. Also, one species of fish, the wolf fish or tiger fish (Hoplias malabaricus) stays dormant in the mud and moist areas after the majority of the water has dried up, re-emerging during the next rainy season.” Photo #18 by so11e


Freshwater lakes stained dark brown by natural tannic acids leached from plants in the forests; the tannin travels into the sands via the river. Photo #19 by Augusto Pessoa

Freshwater lakes stained dark brown by tannic acids

Dried up lagoons during dry season. Photo #20 by inthesitymad

Blue, brown or green lagoons in the desert, Lencois Maranhenses National Park

Lencois Maranhenses National Park was created about 33 years ago on June 2, 1981. Photo #21 by inthesitymad

The more rain, the more lagoons form an oasis in the Brazilian desert

Lençóis is supposed to mean linen or sheets, as the dunes supposedly look like rumpled rolls of bedsheets from above. Thus the name Lençóis Maranhenses National Park. Photo #22 by inthesitymad

Large lagoons in Lençóis

One reviewer wrote, “You can look at the pictures and be amazed by what you see but they are nothing compared to being surrounded by soft white sand and a crystal clear lagoon in front of you, it’s a must see! It truly is a unique experience that doesn’t come close to any other desert.” Photo #23 by inthesitymad

Aerial of Lencois Maranhenses

Aerial of Lencois Maranhenses. Photo #24 by inthesitymad

Donkey on the edge of Lencois Maranhenses

Sandbox donkey on the edge of Lencois Maranhenses. Donkeys are an alternate form of transportation from the standard 4-wheel drive vehicles that traverse the dunes for tours. Photo #25 by joãokẽdal

3 little pigs crossing Maranhenses on foot

Three little pigs…herds of goats and pigs cross Maranhenses on foot, herds which belong to residents who live in the oasis of the park. Photo #26 by Dia.bertuol

Spectacular sunrises and sunsets in Brazil, Lencois Maranhenses

Spectacular sunrises and sunsets in Brazil. Photo #27 by Idobi

Sunset at Lençois Maranhenses, dune ecosystem in Brazil

Sunset over dune ecosystem in Brazil. Photo #28 by Marius Mollersen

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