Arrival in São Luís
Upon arrival, you’ll be met by a local representative and driven to your hotel, nestled in the historic old centre of São Luís. With both French and Portuguese colonial influences, and a distinctly Afro-Brazilian culture, the city centre is beautiful, lively and edgy. Depending upon the time of your arrival, it is well worth having a stroll around in the daytime, but you’ve got an early start tomorrow so make sure you get some rest.
The journey to Atins
After a super-early breakfast, you’ll be picked up at around 7am to start the long journey towards the Lençóis Maranhenses National Park. The first stage is probably the least exciting – a 4 hour drive to the town of Barreirinhas, situated on the Rio Preguiças. This is a shared transfer so you’ll be joined by some other travellers for the journey, but whilst many of them will probably finish their journey in Barreirinhas, yours is just about to get interesting.
A motorboat will be waiting to pick you up, and for the next few hours you’ll be heading downriver towards the Atlantic Ocean. The river will gradually become wider as you go along, and you’ll be flanked by thick forest, teeming with wildlife, on either side for much of the journey. The captain will make a few stops along the way, visiting some small fisherman’s settlements where you’ll be able to buy some refreshments and stretch your legs on the giant dunes which form the riverbanks in some sections.
When you finally reach the mouth of the river, you’ll wave goodbye to your captain and take a short transfer by jeep to Atins – your home for the next few nights. It’s a charming little village with sandy roads, situated on the edge of the national park, but still out of the reach of mass tourism. Here the animals roam around freely, everyone wears flip-flops, and days can be lost lazing around in hammocks.
Lençóis Maranhenses tour, and free time
The Lençóis Maranhenses National Park during the wet season is something truly unique – miles of huge undulating dunes, with clear rainwater lagoons between them, creating an otherworldly landscape. You’ll be driven by 4×4 right into the national park, where you’ll have time to swim in the warm lagoons, climb the giant sandy slopes, or just lie in the sun and take it all in. You’ll end up with a million amazing photos, but none will live up to the experience of just being there.
After heading back to Atins, the rest of your time is completely free. The area is pretty windy and is a mecca for kite-surfing if you’re feeling really adventurous, and there are other watersports you can arrange locally. Otherwise you’ll find some lovely little seafood restaurants, a vast sandy beach to relax on, and an atmosphere which might make the thought of selling up and staying for good cross your mind.
Return to São Luís, and departure
Sadly it’s time to leave little Atins behind, and head back to São Luís. You’ll travel the same route which brought you here, so at least you’ll get to go on a nice boat trip again! Once in Barreirinhas, you’ll catch a shared transfer back to the city, where you’ll spend another night in the same hotel you stayed in before. The next day we’ll arrange a transfer to take you to the airport for your onward flight.
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