Are There Deserts In Brazil?

credit: Peter Parker

Brazil is one of the largest countries in the world and the fifth most populous country on Earth. Brazil has a diverse landscape consisting of dense forests, which include the world’s largest forest, the Amazon. The landscape also consists of wetlands, grasslands, and rugged mountain ranges, but are there deserts in Brazil?

There is only one place in Brazil commonly referred to as a desert: Lençóis Maranhenses. This desert is unlike any other desert in the world and consists of rolling dunes and pools of water and only covers 40% of the Lençóis Maranhenses National Park.

How Common Are Deserts In Brazil?

Deserts are uncommon in Brazil. By definition, deserts are areas that receive less than 10 inches of rain a year, but the Brazilian desert gets more than 10 inches of rain during the rainy season.

Some regions of Brazil have a tropical climate with lots of rainfall, while others are semi-arid. With the semi-arid conditions, you’d expect Brazil to have a few deserts, but the climate can be unpredictable.

Despite this varied climate, Brazil is a country that houses 70% of the world’s plant and animal life.

What Types Of Landscapes Are In Brazil?

Brazil has some of the world’s most breathtaking landscapes. Tourists can expect to be awed by the lush jungles, endless grasslands, and mountain ranges. Brazil is also home to the Pantanal, the world’s most extensive wetlands that covers a staggering 70,000 square miles.

Brazil has many iconic natural attractions, including the Iguaçu Falls and the Sugarloaf and Corcovado Mountains. Roughly 60% of the Amazon rainforest is in Brazil, and due to the large amounts of rain, the Amazon stays green throughout the year.

Brazil has more than 6297 mountain ranges, including massifs, shell mountains, hills, and volcanoes. Some of the most visited mountains are Sugarloaf Mountain, Pico da Bandeira, and Pico Do Calcado.

How Many Deserts Are In Brazil?

There is only one desert in Brazil, and it’s found in the Lençóis Maranhenses National Park. Although this section of the national park is commonly referred to as a desert, it’s not the typical definition of a desert.

The national park has 43 miles of magnificent coastline, unlike any desert you’ve ever experienced.

When you first come across this desert, you’ll notice miles of white sand dunes. As you walk through the dunes, you’ll see valleys of blue and green lagoons.

These lagoons are situated close to the  Amazon basin and, during the rainy season, fill up and completely transform the desert into an oasis. After the rainy season, the lagoons start to dry over the next few months, leaving a blanket of white dunes again.

This desert has taken thousands of years to form. This formation is due to the Parnaiba and  Preguiças rivers transporting sand into the national park. The wind and seasonal changes blow this mass of sand inland, where it forms a multitude of dunes, with some reaching more than 130 feet high.

Can Tourists Visit Deserts In Brazil?

The Lençóis Maranhenses National Park is open to tourists all year round and is a great place to visit for those who love adventure and the outdoors. The national park is open from 08:00 am to 6:00 pm.

The best way to explore the desert in Brazil is with a beach buggy and an experienced guide. Since it is a national park, you could explore the park without a guide, but using a tour company is a better option.

When booking a tour, make sure to consider the price and availability. Many tours don’t run every day of the week. You can only access and tour the dunes with a 4×4 vehicle. The most commonly found 4×4 here is a Jeep, and most of the tours can take between 8-10 people.

The most popular tour is the half-day tour of the sand dunes. The tour usually starts at Barreirinhas and includes a ferry ride to the national park. There is usually a long wait as the ferry can only take a certain number of passengers.

When Is The Best Time To Visit The Desert In Brazil?

The best time to visit Lençóis Maranhenses National Park and experience the dunes and lagoons is from June to the beginning of September. This is right after the rainy season when the lagoons are at their fullest and are the most beautiful.

July is generally the busiest month with visitors in the Lençóis Maranhenses National Park, and most locals visit the park during this time.

How To Get To The Desert In Brazil?

The closest airport to the national park is the Lençóis Maranheses, São Luis Airport. From the airport, it’s a 3.5-hour drive to the national park. It’s best to drive to the national park, but you could also opt for a taxi to the desert.

There are a few tricky roads on the way to the Lençóis Maranhenses National Park, so if you’re driving yourself, choose a vehicle that is suitable for these conditions, ideally a 4×4.

What Activities Are There In The Desert In Brazil?

Besides full-day and half-day jeep tours of the national park, you can enjoy a few more unmissable activities in Brazil’s desert. These include:

A Tour Of Lençóis Maranheses By Plane

If you’re looking for a spectacular national park tour, then there’s no better way to do this than by plane. You’ll be captivated by an aerial view of the dunes and lagoons and can choose between a 30, 45, or 60-minute flight. Only two tour companies offer this tour, so it’s best to book early to reserve your spot.

Kitesurfing On The Sand Dunes

If you’re open to trying new things and have always wanted to try kitesurfing, you may be interested in taking a few kitesurfing lessons in Atins. This destination has the perfect weather for kitesurfing.

Boat Tour Of The Nearby Villages

There are many small villages to explore in Lençóis Maranheses, and you’ll get to immerse yourself in the local culture and purchase a few souvenirs. Boat tours are roughly 4 hours long and may include a pickup and drop-off service and meals.

Tubing Down The Formiga River

Some tours on offer include a tubing experience down the Formiga River. This tour also usually consists of a pickup and drop-off service and meals.

Horseback Riding Tour

You’ll love a sunset horseback riding tour through the dunes if you’re an avid adventurer. This tour gives you a different perspective of the national park and all its beauty.

Sandboarding In Lençóis Maranheses

Thrill seekers will love to sandboard on the dunes in Lençóis Maranheses. This exhilarating experience is very popular amongst tourists and locals and reasonably priced. The boards are rented out for an hour, and while this may not seem like a long time, sandboarding the dunes in Lençóis Maranheses can be exhausting.

Are The Deserts In Brazil Dangerous?

The desert in Brazil is relatively safe, but as with traveling anywhere, there is always some risk. The biggest danger is exploring the national park alone. The dunes go on for miles, and you explore unspoiled natural attractions. If you aren’t familiar with your surroundings, you may get lost.

Brazil is a relatively safe country to visit but not the safest place in the world. Tourists should be aware of theft, crime, and the possibility of civil unrest.

Despite this, many travel to Brazil yearly and have a positive experience. It is advised to be on the cautious side during your trip to Brazil, and many governments encourage their citizens to do so.