The Delta of Parnaíba, Piauí

Delta of Parnaíba

Delta of Parnaíba

Delta of Parnaíba has a unique ecosystem, comparable only to the Nile or the Mekong River. It’s located in the state of Piauí, close to the boader of Maranhão and consists of 85 islands covering an area of 2700 km2. The Delta of Parnaíba is a mixture of rivers, lagoons, dunes and deserted beaches. The mangrove trees are home for many different species of birds and other animals, such as crocodiles, monkeys, turtles and crabs that can all be found from the area of Delta.

The unique nature of Delta

The unique nature of Delta

For a tourist , a visit to Delta of Parnaíba is not the simplest thing to do. First of all the access to this ecosystem has to be done from the city of Parnaíba, which do has an airport, but it’s only operated by small regional airlines. Therefore a visit to Delta often forms part of a larger itinery including either Lencois Maranhenses in Maranhão or Jericoacoara in Ceará, or both. The reach Parnaiba departing from Lencois Maranheses your first step will be reaching Caburé and then after you need to hire a 4×4 transfer to Parnaíba. The first part of this transfer takes you over the dunes until you reach a road leading to Parnaíba. In total the journey takes about 5 hours, as the road is not in the best possible conditions. If you are coming from direction of Jericoacoara, the access is done with 4×4 vehicles as well, as leaving Jericoacoara can only be done over the dunes. The total distance is about 220 km and an approximate time of journey is around 4 hours. An another option is to arrive from the direction of the state capital Teresina accessible by major airlines of the country. In this case the distance is about 335 km. If you decide to choose this option and are into active eco-tourism, including a visit to the National Park of Sete Cidades, located in the northern part of Piauí state only about 140 km from Parnaíba, might be an interesting option for you. This National Park is wellknown for particularly interesting stone formations dividing the area into seven different ambients (“Seven cities”, like the names says).

Boat excursion

Boat excursion

However let’s get back to the main point, the Delta of Parnaíba. To get to know the delta your options are either a private or a group excursion, being the second one of course a more economic option for you. Private tours are taylor made according to your schedules, while the group excursions have a duration of a day and are organized on board of a river boat, which in fact is a quite charming way to explore the region. The journey takes you along the river all the way to deserted beaches, where you have a chance for a bath. You will climb up on the dunes to see how wide the area of Delta really is and enjoy a delicious lunch buffet on the board surrounded but the mangrove vegetation. During the excursion you will fully experience the nature of this unique ecosystem. If you are not travelling during the high season try to visit Parnaíba on weekends, just to guarantee that the inexpensive group excursions are organized while you are in the city. Flying over the Delta is also a great way to see the expansion of the rivers and the islands. This is when you really realize how amzingly large the area is.

For those willing to feel the pureness of the nature with all their senses and discover the ecosystem on their own, we would recommend a visit to Ilha do Caju. This island that forms part of the Delta is in fact located in the side of Maranhão, but enjoys the best fluvial access leaving from Parnaíba (approximately 3½-4 hours). Ilha do Caju is under ecological protection and is a perfect destination for those who enjoy active eco-tourism. Due to the private ownership the access requires a reservation in the only pousada located on the island. The numerous cashew trees have given the name for this island, which until today is one of the few places where the wonders of the nature have been totally preserved.

Pedra do Sal

Pedra do Sal

Once you have arrived to Parnaíba visited Delta, it’s not worth continuing your journey immediately. Beside of Delta, Parnaíba has other attractions to offer as well. You may make a day trip to many of the beaches on the litoral of Piauí, being some of the most interesting ones Praia da Pedra do Sal and Macapá. All of them are naturally beautiful offering rustic beach services. Pedra do Sal is characterized by stone formations and Macapá on the other hand is a meeting point for a river and the sea. The most famous beach of the area is Luis Correia, which tends to be pretty crowded during the weekends. Try it out from Monday till Friday, and on weekends head to the more peaceful beach like Praia do Coqueiro located not so far away from Luis Correia. This beach with many palm trees offers also quality accommodation for those looking for to stay in front of the sea.

Our itinerary suggestions including Delta of Parnaiba.

Beach of Macapá

Beach of Macapá

Brazil Diversity recommends:

  • Pousada Dos Ventos, Parnaíba – Centrally located good quality pousada in Parnaíba. Excellent choice for any travelling willing to visit the Delta of Parnaíba.
  • Pousada Ecológica, Ilha do Caju – The only pousada of the island operates respecting the ecological values and is a perfect base for your eco-tourism adventures. Please not pousada doesn’t accept under 15 years old children.
  • Aimberê Eco-Resort, Praia do Coqueiro – A good quality choice for those willing to stay in front of the beach., just a short drive from the city of Parnaíba.
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Neverending dunes of Lencois Maranhenses and a strip of white sand in Caburé, Maranhão

Now that we a done with the two initial posts dealing with Rio de Janeiro, it’s time to jump far away in the northeastern part of Brazil. We absolutely don’t want to underestimate the charm of Rio de Janeiro as a tourism destination and later on will most probably come back with new blog posts talking about the charm of this marvellous city. However now it’s time for us to lead our followers in the magical world of other less known Brazilian diversities. Sone of our favourites are Lencois Maranhenses and Caburé, both located in Maranhão, last of northestern states.

Lencois Maranhenses

Lencois Maranhenses

Lencois Maranhenses is a large area, in fact a National Park as well, located south of the state capital São Luis. This flat area with almost 100km2 is predominated by flooded land overlaid with sand dunes. What makes Lencois Maranhenses so especial then? It’s the rare natural phenomenon occuring once in year when the heavy rainfall reaches the Amazon basin and impacts the surrounding areas, such as Lencois Maranhenses. This is when the desert kind of landscape changes and creates freshwater lagoons in between the sandy dunes. The rainfall occurs during the first months of the year meaning that the lagoons are their fullest between July and September.

Barreirinhas, a tiny village approximately four hours drive from São Luis, is a the most common and well known gateway to the National Park of Lencois Maranhenses. When Lencois Maranhenses became internationally known and started to receive more and more tourist, Barreirinhas quickly gained more accommodation options, restaurants and other services needed to serve tourists. An ideal time to stay at the village would be around two nights, as apart of the main attraction Lencois Maranhenses, Barreirinhas doesn’t have that much to offer. But, do not under estimate the charm of this natural phenomena, it’s definetely worth travelling all the way from the state capital São Luis to Barreirihas just to see the sparkling blue and green lagoons located  in between white sand dunes.

Lencois Maranhenses

Lencois Maranhenses

Lencois Maranhenses

Lencois Maranhenses

In Barreirinhas you fill find a number of travel agencies offering to take you to the National Park of Lencois Maranhenses. You will need their services, because entrance can be reached by car only and you are not allowed to wander there on your own. The heart of the national park can be discovered on foot only, therefore the tours take you to the entrance from where you continue walking with a local guide. Please note that basically there are no services in the area of the National Park, so you better take at least a bottle of water with you. We say basically, because in the edges of the National Park there are small fisherman villages offering even home stays for real adventures. The most common way to visit the national park is to make one or two day trips to different lagoons, but there are also longer hikes up to three days through the National Park area. Thanks to the heavy, but warm (during the day time) wind you will not feel the heat of the sand and when sun starts burning too much the best option is enjoy a refreshing bath in one of the many lagoons. An another interesting way to see the Lencois Maranhenses is a sightseeing flight over this immense area. This is basically the only way to understand why this large area of dunes and lagoons is called Lencois (=bed sheets).

Preguicas River

Preguicas River

Once you are done with Lencois Maranhenses, we recommend you to continue in direction of Caburé, a tiny piece of sand located in between of Rio Preguicas and the Atlantic Ocean. There are two options, either you take a day trip to Caburé or turn your day trip into transfer in case you decide to overnight in this heavenly paradise. Leaving from Barreirinhas, Caburé can be reached only by boat, via the river of Preguicas. The tour stops in Vassouras, so called small Lencois with yellow dunes and in the village of Mandacaru, where you have a chance to climb in a beacon and enjoy beautiful views over the area. Once you reach Caburé you wish you would have decided to stay over night. Here you will tear away from the everyday life, forget the hustle and bustle of the cities and feel the magical peace of the surrounding nature. There is no electricy in Caburé and during the day time the few resturants work with generator. Yes, if you decided to stay over night the lack of electricity means that there is not hot shower nor air conditioning. But don’t worry, if you have came this far you probably can stand one day with cold shower and thanks to the heavy winds during the night time you will not even feel the lack of air conditioning. In Caburé you can take a bath either in the Preguicas River or in the waves of Atlantic Ocean. Enjoy being far away from your daily routines and once the generator turns off (normally at 22 pm) don’t forget to look up on the sky of thounsands of stars.

Mandacaru and Caburé

Mandacaru and Caburé

After having experienced Caburé you have few choices, either retun back to São Luis via Barreirinhas, head towards Atins, an another small village with entrance to the National Park area or keep on travelling to south in direction of Parnaiba (in state of Piauí) and Jericoacoara (in state of Ceará). The main attractions of these areas will shortly be covered in another blog posts. Last but definetely least,  when visiting Lencois Maranhenses, there are entrancies where motorized tours are offered for tourists. Even if driving over the dunes may sound like an attractive idea, we kindly ask you not to be tempted, because in the long run such activities will destroy this fragile nature.

Our suggested itineraries with Lencois Maranhenses.

Bungalows Caburé

Bungalows in Caburé

Brazil Diversity recommends:

  • Pousada Porto do Buriti Barreirinhas. Just a short walk from the center of Barreirinhas Pousada Porto do Buriti offers an excellent value for money close to the dining options of the village.
  • Pousada Porto Buriti – Caburé. The bungalows are simple and as there is no electricity the amenities are limited as well. However staying over night in Caburé is an extraordinary experience for those who want to escape from city life and feel the simplicity of the surrounding nature.
  • Trekking – For real adventures with certain physical preparation we recommend unforgettable hikes through the National Park. The journey takes several days depending on the itinery and passes through small fisherman villages, where you will stay overnight in hammocks.
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