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The Lençóis Maranhenses National Park in Brazil

Ann Moises

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  • The Lençóis Maranhenses National Park is the largest field of sand dunes in South America.
  • With its vast white dunes and breathtaking lagoons, this protected area is one of the most beautiful destinations in Brazil.
  • The park includes beaches, mangroves, and fauna.

Located on the eastern coast of Maranhão, between São Luís and the Piauí border, the Lençóis Maranhenses National Park (LMNP) is truly a breathtaking site. It is a protected area managed by the Chico Mendes Institute for Biodiversity Conservation.

At first glance, the park looks like a desert but is actually not. LMNP is situated near the Amazon basin, thus; rain falls regularly here, particularly between January and July.

Fresh water then accumulates in the valleys between the white dunes, and is trapped due to a layer of impermeable rock underneath the sand.
Because of the humidity and lack of wind during that time of the year, the dunes barely move.
Consequently, crystal-clear ponds up to three meters deep are formed.
Their mesmerizing colors create a beautiful contrast to the white, desert-like sand, especially in the months of June, July, and August.
This 155-hectare-park features a landscape found nowhere else in the world. From above, LMNP looks like crumpled sheets, hence; it was named Lençóis (i. e. sheets or linen)
90,000 hectares of the land consists of mobile dunes and lakes formed by the dunes.
Lago Azul and Lagoa da Esperança are two of the most beautiful lagoons in LMNP.

According to an article by UNESCO, there are beaches measuring 600-2000 meters wide, and vegetations such as restinga, mangroves, and alluvial communities in the national park.

LMNP is a refuge to several types of animals like turtles and migratory birds as well. More importantly, four types of animals included in the Brazilian list of Endangered Species are found there.

These dune formations, crystalline lagoons, and the presence of endemic and endangered species make Lençóis Maranhenses National Park a truly unique and remarkable place.

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