The Only Desert* w/ “Millions” of Lakes

The Lençóis Maranhenses in the Northeastern state of Maranhão is an ecological reserve which occupies an area of 1000 sq. kilometers. Despite much rainfall, the reserve is almost completely free of vegetation.

Composed of large, white, sweeping dunes, at first glance Lençóis Maranhenses looks like an archetypal desert. In fact it isn’t actually a desert*. Lying just outside the amazon basin, the region is subject to a regular rain season during the beginning of the year. The rains cause a peculiar phenomenon: freshwater collects in the valleys between sand dunes, spotting the desert with blue and green lagoons that reach their fullest between July and September.

The area is also surprisingly home to a variety of fish which, despite the almost complete disappearance of the lagoons during the dry season, have their eggs brought from the sea by birds.

The national park status serves only as a means of protecting the area’s ecology; consequently many people are park residents, as is also the case with nearby Jericoacoara. The inhabitants of the park work primarily as fishermen during the rain season. During the dry season, many leave for neighboring regions to work small plots of land.

According to local lore, the region was habitated by Caeté Indians, who woke up one day to find their town covered by sand.

As a general guide to this area, try the park’s official dual language website.

The English-language part seems to have been translated from its original Portuguese by a non-native speaker so hang tight. In the next few days, I’ll try to send them corrections.

For spectacular professionally-done photos of the area, check out this site.

10 thoughts on “The Only Desert* w/ “Millions” of Lakes

  1. It is now my dream to visit the Lencois Maranhenses!! Yet another place I want to see. You could spend a lifetime seeing all of Brazil’s natural marvels.

  2. This is a beautiful place in Brazil. Recently I came to know about this beautiful place in a Tamil movie which was filmed in this place. Really this is a wonderful place and surprised to see there are so many lakes in the desert area. I want to visit Brazil to see place.

    • Hi D.C.

      I would but that’s quite a lot of work and I’m not a travel planner or travel agent. I’d advise talking to one that is near your city to resolve your question.


  3. I saw this desert in a Tamil movie recently and i came to know its Brazil..i was just telling my hubby that we need to visit this beautiful place.

  4. Hey I m planning to backpack through south america for a year…and this seems like a place one must have seen! but since i m a student i m on a low budget….whats the best way for a backpacker to experience the desert? Is it only possible to go with an organized trip for tourists or are there other ways? thanks!

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