Text and Photos: RaphaAretakis
After getting amazed with colonial city São Luís, I got the road to Barreirinhas, a little town located about 270km away from the capital of Maranhão and an entry point to one of Brazil’s greatest treasures: The National Park of LençóisMaranhenses. The road to town is long but in very good conditions, seemed like an endless highway, which increased even more the expectation. We arrived after a four-hour trip – we stopped along the way to stretch our legs and drink some water. I only had the time to leave the luggage at a B&B, carrying a backpack with the essentials and jump into a boat.
The boat, which is actually a speedboat, is a simple vessel, made in aluminum which cuts the river Preguiças’ water at a speed, I must say, reasonable – I think the ‘speed’ on it’s name isn’t a coincidence. It was almost forty minutes watching the vegetation change from typical of the north of the country, with its stately palm trees Buriti, Carnauba and Juçara (also known as açaí), to the northeast vegetation, with a gigantic mangrove. All these details very well pointed and clarified by the guide, Junior, who knows everything about this area. As I wasn’t prepared for the ride, I did not know where we were going, and how long it took or how many stops it would be. A great surprise.
Soon it became clearer and I was spotting the first dune in the middle of the river. Exciting, to say the least. Our first stop was in Vassouras, a really small village embedded in the dunes, where you can drink some cold beer, eat snacks and enjoy a good river bathing. All this in the pleasant company of smart (and hungry) little monkeys.Definitely a highlight for those who are travelling with kids.
As I was a little late from the road trip, my second stop was in Caburé, which is usually the last tour stop. Caburé is a little larger village and has more infrastructure than Vassouras. There we found restaurants, bed and breakfast (all very simple) and what we might call the PequenosLençóisMaranhenses, because we came across a beautiful – yet reduced – set of dunes. The lunch break was at the Porto da Lua hotel’s restaurant. The atmosphere is very simple, very airy and the only noises we hear are the waves, because that’s where the river meets the sea. Beautiful scenery! I ate a fish stew with shrimp that could inspire even the most dejected of beings. With renewed strength it was time to explore the region, and it is all so magnificent… astonished with the beauty of the place, I went back to the speedboat to go to the last stop, the village of Mandacaru.
The boat docks in an almost primitive pier and from there we walk no more than 10 minutes to reach the Preguiças’ Lighthouse. Raised in 1940, this lighthouse is 35 meters high or has 160 steps, if you prefer. From the top we have a 360-degree view of the entire region, especially the river meeting the sea and, in the horizon, some dunes of LençóisMaranhenses National Park. Feels really rewarding being up there, believe me!
From there the speedboat bound to the pier of the B&B, nonstop. As a companion, the sun, which was already showing signs of another spectacle of sunset. Now the only thing left was enjoying the wind on my face and the happiness to be able to live and visit such a beautiful place.
Here’s a tip: It is worth remembering the importance of using sunscreen, high factor, because the sun takes seriously his work there. Do not forget the repellent because in Vassouras we found some mosquitoes. There they sell repellent but do not count on it, you better have yours. Take water, the ride is long. And finally, enjoy every second. It’s magical!
RaphaAretakis is a travel writer and creator of the travel website Raphanomundo. Born in Recife – northeast of Brazil, believes that the world is too big to stand at one place only. She lives now in Curitiba after spending some springs in Stuttgart, Berlin and Sao Paulo.