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Lencois Maranhenses Sand Dunes, Brazil

The Sand Dunes of Lencois Maranhenes in Brazil have been formed over thousands and thousands of years. The white sand from the riverbeds is carried along by the current and deposited at the mouths of the rivers, and it is then swept back inland and upstream by the continuous winds and sea currents - and endless cycle that has formed one of the most beautiful natural formations on Earth.

The ecotourist will find Lencois Maranhenses National Park - one of Brazil's top natural attractions - in Maranh?o State. The white sand dunes form an ecosystem which covers 383,000 acres and looks like a beautiful plain of enormous bed sheets (len??is in Portuguese) spread out on the Northeastern coast.

The green traveller will love to take a view of the seasonal lagoons which fill up with rainwater, mostly during the first six months of the year, making Lencois Maranhenses a unique kind of landscape. Mangroves, deserted beaches, buritis (a kind of palm tree) and the Preguicas River help compose the park's diversity.

A list of tours of the area, all favouring the standards of ecotourism, can be found at ParqueLencois.com where you can take your choice of sunbathing in a natural oasis, taking in the local culture of the fishing village of Mandacaru, or soaking in the magnificence of the lagoons, dunes, flora and fauna of the Lencois Maranhenses National Park.

To maintain the impressive landscape the local authorities have declared the area a national park and no roads pass through it. The only residents are local fishermen who make their living from the lagoons. Visitors can only gain access to the area by 4x4 trucks operated by the park, and you can book yourself an ecotourism off road adventure tour at gobrazil.com where you can expect to pay about $30 to enjoy either a day's tour on a jeep or in and out of the river and lagoons by schooner. All tours are officially guided by a local expert.