Destination: Lençóis Maranhenses

March 15, 2007 | By More

Lençóis MaranhensesLençóis Maranhenses, BrasilLençóis MaranhensesLençóis Maranhenses, Brazil
Pequenos Lençóis (Lençóis Maranhenses)Caburé (Lençóis Maranhenses)Pequenos Lençóis (Lençóis Maranhenses)Caburé (Lençóis Maranhenses)

The Lençóis Maranhenses are, in my opinion, one of the most wonderful places in Brazil. The beauty of the region, and the fact that mass tourism hasn’t reached it yet, explain why the Lençóis cause such a profound impact on its visitors. Have a look at the Google Maps link at the bottom of the entry to understand what the Lençóis are about. The Lençóis (in Portuguese, sheets), are a large desert in the state of Maranhão. A desert with a difference: between June and September the dunes share the space with lagoons formed by the accumulation of water fallen during the rainy season.

WE LIKE THE MOST: the wonderful and unique landscape, the sensation of being a remote place untouched by humans

WE LIKE THE LEAST: Barreirinhas, point of entry to the Lençóis, a horrible place; preparations being made for the arrival of mass tourism; the violation of the National Park rules with total impunity; the inexistent tourist infraestructure

HOW TO GET THERE: from São Luís you can get to the Lençóis by plane, van, regular bus, or taxi. There are regular buses leaving São Luís for Barreirinhas on a daily basis. The trip takes four hours. There are also private transfers that will get you there in three hours. Most hotels have details as the vans pick up the passengers from the hotels, early in the morning. It is also possible to reach the Lençóis coming from the east, from Fortaleza – a real adventure!

CAREFUL WITH: the merciless sun. You can’t go anywhere in the Lençóis if you don’t smear your skin first with tons of sunblock. Take plenty of water as well, you will find absolutely nothing for miles on end.

FAVOURITE PLACES: Caburé, the Pequenos Lençóis (small Lençóis), Luzia’s restaurant in canto de Atins, the Preguiças river, the Porto Preguiças Resort


  • the best time of the year to visit the Lençóis goes from June to September, when the rainy season has just ended and the lagoons are brimming with water. The rest of the year the lagoons are half empty, and some of them dry up completely. The rainy season goes from January to May. It can rain non-stop for several hours and even days.
  • get away from Barreirinhas as soon as possible, and go down the river Preguiças for a pleasant stay in Caburé or Atins. Barreirinhas is only needed for two trips: the one that takes you to the southeastern part of the Lençóis, and the flyover on a small airplane over the Lençóis.
  • there are several pousadas in Caburé offerring pretty basic accommodation. The pousadas have electricity generators, as the power lines haven’t reached there yet.
  • there is some really affordable accommodation in Atins. In the Canto de Atins, even cheaper accommodation, right next to the Lençóis.
  • when walking along the dunes, and to avoid rapid exhaustion, try to walk along the ridges, avoiding continuous ups and downs
  • try to spend at least four nights in the region, it is wonderful enough to deserve that bit of your time

LINKS: Parque dos Lençóis Maranhenses, Tourism Portal by the government of the Maranhão state

WEATHER FORECAST: The weather in the Lençóis Maranhenses (Barreirinhas) for the next 10 days

GOOGLE MAPS: Lençóis Maranhenses

PHOTOS: Lençóis Maranhenses

[Don’t forget to check out the list of other destinations already covered in this blog, here]

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Category: Destination: Maranhão

Comments (16)

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  1. Brazil Travel Blog » Destination: São Luís | May 13, 2010
  1. CRIS says:

    hej !
    my congratulations for ur stunning web!! =)
    i was looking to get info about Lencois and u gave me a sensible explanation about the place-thks!
    uhm…im actually travelling in most of south america on my next trip probably from Antarctic to Equator but im looking for the cheapest way to get to Lencois, if u have any suggestion could u let me know??
    i guess,..i could get to Fortaleza and by bus to lencois, any better? =)

  2. Tony says:

    Hi Cris, thanks a lot. Unfortunately, there is no cheap of getting to the Lençóis. By bus is a very long trip (3 days) and not that economic considering you have to eat during that time. There is no direct bus from Fortaleza to Lençóis (you can get there but you will have to change buses several times). Best thing would be to fly to São Luís and from there a four-hour bus trip to Barreirinhas.

  3. Kate says:

    Do you think it’s too late to visit now?
    I’m planning a trip to Jeri (I’ve got 6 days and thought of 3 days in Jeri and 3 days in Lencois – but will have to fly between For and Sao Luis as not enought time (and only me hiring a jeep is expensive). Not sure if it’s worth it considering time and time of year.

  4. Tony says:

    Kate, it’s difficult to tell. It depends to a great extent on the amount of rain fallen during the first half of the year, and I don’t have that data. If it rained a lot, there might still be some water on the lagoons. Otherwise, they’ll be dry, rendering the trip a bit of a let down. Bear in mind you will spend six hours to go from Jeri to Fortaleza and even then chances are you won’t catch a flight that day. I would leave it for another trip another time of the year.

  5. Kate says:

    Dear Tony,
    Thanks so much for your advice. It’s what everyone is saying it seems. I’ll definitely go to Jeri and no doubt I will love it there so much that I will stay. I’ve (foolishly in retrospect) booked the flight into For and out of Sao Luis, but I can always change this if needs be. I might just find a group already doing the Jeri – Barr route by jeep and I could join them….
    Take care

  6. Tony says:

    Kate, if you found a group going to Barreirinhas that’d be great. You can always keep that possibility opened. Otherwise, getting to the Ilha do Caju, half-way to the Lençóis, might be an interesting idea. But see how you like Jeri. Have a wonderful trip!

  7. Kelly Hoppe says:


    I have a flight to sao luis on the 18th and am booked to be in Jeri on the 23rd. I have so many mixed thoughts on trying to make it to the Lencois park. Its not the right time of year and doesn´t seem to be easy or cheap to get around. Otherwise–should I try and change my flight direct to Fortaleza? Did anyone end up going? Any suggestions? Thanks!

  8. Tony says:

    Kelly, the time you have available would be just about right to visit the Lençóis, but it isn’t the best time of the year to go there, you might be in for a big dissapointment when you discover the lagoons are all dry. Go directly to Fortaleza indeed.

  9. Kate says:

    This post has reminded me that I wanted to write something here. Partly to say thanks to Tony and partly for other travellers. This is what I did. I went to Jeri and loved the windsurfing. I kept to the plan of only staying for 4 days. No one there could believe this since it’s such a laid back place and it’s not super easy to get too and everyone stays for at least a few weeks. But I’m stubborn…so…. I basically went around and asked all agents if they knew someone going from Jeri to Barr. It IS possibel to do by public transport, and fun. But you need 1.5 days). I was so lucky to find a great guy and people to share with. Daginio (I’m not spelling that right, he’s in the the LP which I haven’t got to hand) – drives the route quite often. He’s brilliant. It was an 8hr jounrey, so quite epic, but interesting stops on the way, and good company and value. You might find that he, or some other is going to Jeri from Barr. And there are companies in Barr that organise it. Basically, if you want to do it, it’s possible and if you don’t mind bumpy bumpy LONG journeys then you’ll have a good time. I thought it was worth the hassle. San Luis is also really interesting. It made me feel I’d seen Brazil rather than gone just on a windsurfing holiday.
    Tony’s right, it’s not the best time for the park and the lagoons are not all there and the ones that are, are not full. BUT there was water and it’s still a beautiful thing to see. I’d have liked to have two days and gone up to the coast and stayed in Cabure, or done a walk in the dunes…. I was very glad I’d gone given I’m not going to be coming back soon.
    Whatever you do though, it’ll be GREAT.

  10. Tony says:

    Kate, I wish I had more time to devote to this English-language version of my De viaje a Brasil. Unfortunately, I’m not a professional blogger and that’s as far as I can go. I mentioning this because at my Spanish blog I have detailed information on how to get from Jeri to the Lençóis. Just like you mentioned, there is no regular public transportation as such, the trip is an adventure in itself.

    If you knew you would never ever be coming back to that part of the planet, ok, go to the Lençóis. It’s just that I’ve met quite a few people who went there during the wrong time of the year and came back wondering what the whole Lençóis hype is about.

    Caburé is a fantastic place, we stayed there three nights, wished we could have stayed more.

    All the best.

  11. Kely says:

    Hi Kate and Tony,

    Thanks both of you for your quick responses. I have been reading these blogs everyday looking for information but that was the first time I tried writing something. I can believe how fast the responses came and what good information you guys were able to give. I think I will probably go. This mostly being because I already arranged my flight, accomodation in Jeri ect…I am up for the adventure but I appreciate the warning Tony and now that I have no expectations, hopefully I can just enjoy a nice park and some bumpy bumpy rides. Again, thanks both for your help and advice!!


  12. Tony says:

    Kely, with no high expectations, chances are you’ll definitely enjoy the place. Have great trip!

  13. Glenn says:

    Hi Tony

    Just stumbled on your blog and it’s great, thank you so much for all the information that you’ve put together. I wanted to ask if it was worth going to Lencois in February? I noticed above Kelly managed to go from Jeri to Barr, was wondering if it were possible to go the other way round (ie visit Lencois first then head to Jeri) or is the best way to return to Sao Luis and take flight to Fortaleza?


  14. Tony says:

    Glenn, unfortunately February is not a good choice of month to visit the Lençóis. From January to May there is constant rain on the region. If you’re unlucky, that might mean 7 days of non-stop rain. Not nice at all. Also, because it is the beginning of the rainy season the lagoons are only beginning to fill at this stage. I’d leave the wonderful Lençois for another visit to Brazil and visit a destination further south along the coast where chances are the weather will be much sunnier.

  15. Tony says:

    If you have any questions about the Lençóis Maranhenses you can ask at our Facebook page and we will give you an answer as soon as we can.