If we had known beforehand that visiting the Lençois maranheses would require an additional 400km drive because of an intraverseable bit of 70km sand track, we might very well not have gone. But, luckily for us, we didn’t know that there was not way to reach Tutoia (and then Parnaiba) with the little car of ours and spent a wonderful day on the river, discovering the Lençois.
Taking the boat from Barreirinhas, we spent 40 minutes driving up the river along forest, wetlands and then, suddenly, dunes.
The dunes are amazing. Turning the back to the river, you can imagine being in a desert. Walking a few steps down the sand, you return to a world of water, green and monkeys. The transition between sand and forest is often very sudden, one step you are in lush forests, another step, you out on the sand exposed to bright sunshine.
After a second stop to visit a light house, we spent a good part of the afternoon on an arm of the Lençois, being able to walk from the river over to the seaside in less than 5 minutes. Though effectively, most of our time was devoted to tasting some delicious fish and recovering from our efforts in an hammock before returning to Barreirinhas late in the afternoon.
There is much more to see in these dunes; pools of turquoise water in the middle of the sand, beautiful sunsets, etc. However, with 400km to go the next day, we were happy to have spent this one day out on the river!