As soon as the stressful Transamazonica is over and Shujaa undergoes a thorough wash – which this time lasted a little longer than usual – begins the longed-for relaxation. Our first point of contact on the coast of north-east Brazil is São Louís – where, thanks to Captain Lima, we can be on the beach on the recreational grounds of the local military well-cared for. The old town of São Louís is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, has much morbid charm and is characterized by a very strong Portuguese influence, although originally founded by the French. We also go out nice, with the parents of Captain Lima living there. We visit the village of Alcantara on the other side of the river with a sailing catamaran and get soaking wet during the crossing in extreme wind and high waves. The water here is muddy brown, because the tides are here from 7 meters with most pronounced in all of South America and due to the topography (ie large bay) which in turn rinses many sediments. The small town of Alcantara is a listed building and has about 300 historic buildings from the 17th and 18th centuries, where once the richest families of the province, some with over 8,000 slaves, lived. The place has indeed a great charm: despite the high heat, but at least strong winds, we explore the streets and old buildings. At noon we eat great fish in a small restaurant with a fantastic view of the sea and the offshore island. We are the only guests and it is cooked only for us, but the fish is better.
The desert area of Lençois Maranhenses is considered the highlight in northern Brazil. Truly, the dunes are interspersed with hundreds of freshwater lagoons that fill in the rainy season from January to May, and then dry out in the dry season, a spectacular nature experience. In the north-west of the National Park of Santa Amaro we take a boat trip to different lagoons, drive in the south-east of the parks of Barreirinhas with our Quad Shujoo on deep slopes to the remote fishing village of Atins, which lies in the middle of the dunes and finally make an evening Flight in a single-engine Cessna over the entire dune area. Only then we really become aware of the real extent of the area and the fascinating beauty. So that we can take better pictures, we ask the pilot to build a door … which optimizes the view, but significantly increases the turbulence in filming and photographing … and raises the adrenalin level. To look into the depths without a door, only secured by a relatively loose seat belt. But an absolute highlight!
Continue to the Parnaíba Delta, also known as Delta de Americas, as it is the only real river delta in America and the third largest in the world (after the Nile and the Mekong delta). From the beautifully situated Poussada Jagata right in Tutóia, on the river delta, we make exploratory tours to the “small” Lençois Maranhenses with Shujoo. Again we are very happy that we have a quad, especially in these deep sandy areas, this is the ideal means of transportation to drive much more relaxed than with our Shujaa. If we get stuck in the deep sand, we can simply dig out or push it out with our hands without any problems or aids. Also, a day trip by boat into the delta should not be missed, with great fish lunch on a small island in the middle of the delta, with mangrove swamps and islands that consist only of dunes. Everywhere the atmosphere is very relaxed and chilled and we feel right as on vacation. We like Brazil very well so far, but the North-East has to be a completely different country than further south, which is confirmed by a nice couple, Nathalia and Lucas, from São Paulo, whom we met.
But soon we will treat ourselves to more holidays. From a German Overlander family (Sabine and Rallo with twins) – the first we ever met in Brazil – we get the tip for a beautifully located kitesurfing school in Macapá. Macapá is still considered a totally untourist insider tip, as well as one of the best kite spots in all of Brazil and Karin and I want to learn together on our “old days” a new sport together – kitesurfing – and here the conditions are indeed ideal. A new challenge in the long-awaited “vacation of travel”, we cannot just let it be! We will report on our progress or failures soon. Karin is already excited about our first morning.