Lençóis Maranhenses

We all know Brazil has an abundance of natural wonders, but did you know that there are more than 30 National Parks in Brazil? One of these parks is most unusual, with all the appearance of a desert, formed of rolling sand dunes as far as the eye can see. Yet it has plentiful rainfall, with a rainy season which creates large lagoons in the valleys between the dunes each year.

Dunes Lençóis Maranhenses National Park is located on the northeastern coast of Brazil, in the state of Maranhão, and its unique landscape spreads 31 miles into Brazil, and 27 miles along the coast. The dunes formed over thousands of years, as sand deposited at the mouths of South America’s rivers, was blown back towards the continent. The consequence is white billowy dunes of sand. In Portuguese Lençóis means bedsheets, which is exactly what the dunes resemble when viewed from above.

Impermeable rock beneath the sand prevents rainwater from percolating away, forming the clear, blue/ green lakes of the rainy season. The lagoons hold aquatic life, small fish which swim into the pools at their highest, between July and September, when rivers like the Rio Negro connect with them. Some of these fish species bury themselves in the damp sand and remain dormant through the dry season, waiting for the rain to replenish the lagoons.


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