Lençóis Maranhenses

Lençóis Maranhenses’, unique rolling dunes and freshwater lagoons

Brazil’s Lençóis Maranhenses national park is world-famous because of its rolling sand dunes and crystal-clear freshwater lagoons. It’s a bit hard to reach, so we’ve listed how to reach it and added some extra photography tips!

About Lençóis Maranhenses

Lençóis Maranhenses is a protected national park located in northeastern Brazil, bordering “Baía de São José” with 70 km of coastline, and a 155 000 hectare park composed of rolling sand dunes. The park thanks his names – “Bedsheets” in Portuguese – to these rolling, smooth clean sand dunes. 

Due to an impermeable rock surface underneath these dunes, rainwater is prevented from draining which forms thousands of crystal-clear pools and lakes between the dunes – especially from about May to September. These freshwater lagoons are often interconnected which is astonishing to see.

Next to these unique dunes, the park is also known for its mangrove ecosystem, which is the perfect home for a number of endangered fishes, turtles, plants, birds, and other animal species.

Over the span of a year, the Lençóis Maranhenses National Park receives as many as 60,000 visitors, mainly ecotourists given its unique physical features. This makes night sky observation, surfing, bicycle touring, and canoeing popular activities for these tourists.

Visiting Lençóis Maranhenses in 2021 – How to reach Lençóis Maranhenses

Lençóis Maranhenses isn’t the easiest place to visit, that’s why we asked photographer David Emrich for some tips: “Personally, I flew to São Luís which is the biggest city close to Lençóis Maranhenses, and from there I took a Bus to Barreirinhas. 

The city of Barreirinhas is located next to the Preguiças river and almost every tourist tour to Lençóis Maranhenses starts from here. Most of these tour operators will give you a 4×4 Jeep to drive to the dunes, but first, you’ll have to cross the river by putting the Jeep on a small ferry. 

After crossing the river, a 45 minute drive through the steppe, grassland and sand await. The ride itself is always adventurous since the drivers drift through the sand and grasslands. Finally, the jeep will climb the first dunes and you’ll see the crystal clear lakes. 

During our visit, the first thing everyone did was jumping into this surrealistic clean body of water to take a refreshing swim. From there on the guide talks you through these magical lagoons until the sun finally sets. 

The most impressive part of the trip is when you climb to the highest sand dune and have a perfect view over Lençóis Maranhenses and its lagoons. 

Bonus tip, for everyone who’s visiting the city of Barreirinhas: It’s very popular to take a speedboat and sail down the preguicas river. During this trip, you’ll see the Preguiças Lighthouse and Caburé Beach.”

About the shot

Landscape photography might seem like black magic for some of our adventurous readers and aspiring photographers, that’s why we decided to break down the technical details behind this shot. 

David’s most important tip for photographing the Lençóis Maranhenses is the fact that cameras don’t like sand: “Next to bringing sun cream, you’ll need to bring protection to cover your camera from the sand.

Secondly, you’ll want to bring a wide-angle lens and a polarizing filter to capture the massive lagoons. Personally, I used my 14mm lens. Because of the burning sun, you’ll want to have your aperture closed as much as possible (f22) and your shutter speed as high as possible (1/8000). This way you’ll capture the best shots!”



  • Shutter speed: 1/8000s
  • ISO: 320
  • Aperture: f1/22


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