Imagine a vast landscape of undulating white sand, punctuated by turquoise water lagoons, stretching as far as the eye can see. Although it looks otherworldly, this little known natural wonder is located in Northeast Brazil, in the Lençóis Maranhenses National Park.
It’s one of the highlights of the so-called “Route of the Emotions”, the other being the Parnaíba River Delta. The Delta is a network of more than 80 islands, forming the largest open sea river delta of the Americas, with a rich combination of plant and animal life, comparable only to the Nile and the Mekong Rivers.
Both amazing locations are on the doorstep of exciting new resort Pure Resorts Parnaíba, currently under development to open up the region to luxury eco tourism.
Visitors to Pure Resorts Parnaíba will have the opportunity to enjoy once in a lifetime experiences, available in very few places on Earth. Here are top 5 things to see and do in Parnaíba…
1) Take a boat tour through the Delta
The landscape of the Parnaíba River Delta consists of verdant mangrove forests, swamplands, uninhabited islands and barren sand dunes, all linked together by small rivers.
Take a riverboat trip through this fascinating scenery, spotting caimans and monkeys jumping through the trees and learning how the locals catch river crabs with their bare hands. This is a paradise for bird-watchers, with native species like the red ibis and the tuiuiu (giant stork), as well as many varieties of egrets, hawks and ducks. Just before sunset you can enjoy a rare natural spectacle, when the red ibis return to their nests in the mangrove trees.
2) Trek the dunes
Climb up on the dunes for a stunning bird’s eye view of the Delta. With their many craters, trekking the dunes is like walking on the moon – it’s particularly stunning at sunset.
During the rainy season (January to June), these craters fill with water, creating crystal clear lagoons that are perfect for bathing in. If you’re feeling energetic, you can walk on, to discover deserted beaches where the Delta meets the sea. With no one else around, strip off and take a dip in the warm waters!
3) Go on an ocean adventure
Embark with the local fishermen to experience extreme fishing using only traditional methods. These brave men venture out to the sea in search of the highly appreciated tarpon. Witness how after a few hours of pursuit, they come back to the shore with an enormous specimen weighing 60-80 kg!
You can also join the biologists from PROJETO BIOMADE to learn about the migration and nesting patterns of giant turtles, who come back to Pedra do Sal beach every year to lay their eggs. Local kids will proudly show you sea horses and tell you stories about the Jesuits and pirates, while you witness one of the most beautiful sunsets in Brazil.
Nearby in Cajueiro you can visit the sanctuary of the endangered manatee (peixe boi). And if you like diving, you’re in for a treat; explore shipwrecks on the ocean bed and spot dolphins and whales swimming alongside you in the water.
4) Take a helicopter trip
There’s no better way to comprehend the scale of the Parnaíba Delta and Lençois Maranhenses than flying over them. From this perspective you can see the billowing, sheet-like desert, which stretches 140km along the coast and marvel at the geometrical patterns, lines and curves of the sand dunes, which have been sculpted by the wind.
Meanwhile, from the sky, you can see the five river branches that connect the Delta to the sea, and spot the many islands and islets that make up this vast landscape.
5) Stay the night on a tropical island
Ilha do Caju, or Cashew Island, is one of the few islands of the Delta set up to host eco tourists. Stay overnight in charming guesthouse Pousada Ecológica (the only one on the island) and let an experienced guide help you explore the island’s amazing fauna and flora.
Under ecological protection, Cashew Island is teeming with wildlife, including armadillos, agoutis, maracajás-cats, anteaters, toucans, alligators, raccoons, deer, foxes, woodpeckers, guan, several species of monkeys, ibises, spoonbills, egrets, marrecas, turtles, porpoises and many others.
It’s one of the few places of the world where the wonders of the nature have been totally preserved.