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Lencois Maranhenses National Park, Maranhao

Even though it is called the Brazilian Sahara - its 155,000 hectare extension is bigger than the city of Sao Paulo -, the Lencois Marahenses National Park is not exactly a desert, yet it has a landscape with those typical characteristics. It rains 3 times more in here than at the renowned African desert. The rainy season, from November to June, is so powerful that gives birth to huge temporary lagoons of crystalline fresh waters. Nevertheless, these lagoons are inhabited by fishes that later will be used as food by the migrating birds coming all the way from the North Pole, such as the Lesser Yellowlegs (Tringa flavipes) and the Treinta y tres. Meadows of white and golden sands, constantly changing their shape according to the creative mood and whim of the winds, extend around these oases as far as the eye can follow. Along 90 km of littoral, beautiful, extended and deserted beaches get linked. This unique ecological organization is located in the State of Maranhao, in the north-eastern part of Brazil. Another characteristic that makes this a unique area in Brazil is the superficiality of its subterranean waters. The waters under the earth are so close to the surface that a two metre pipe is enough to make this vital liquid outpour with an impetuous spout. Some families usually migrate to the savannahs of Marahenses during the rainy season, and build makeshift huts on top of the meadows to make use of the fishing resources in the temporary lagoons. Afterwards they will abandon Lencois during the dry season to make a living out of farming by the riverbanks. Visitors arriving to this part of Brazil will see white meadows everywhere in the horizon like cloths drying up under the sun. They are conformed by fine and light grains of quartz; some resemble mountains up to 40 m high and they sometimes cluster along 50 m of beaches and inland deserts as well.

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