A Trip to the Lencois Maranhenses
What to do in Atins
Atins is a small undeveloped town on the banks Preguica River delta.
This estuary has fast currents and an ever moving sand bank that creates some interesting kiteboarding conditions. There is nothing truly remarkable to this place other than its proximity to a 200,000 hectare sea of white sand by the Atlantic Ocean with unending 18 knot trade winds from the east. The town itself is not much more than a group of houses that have shared electric service for a couple of years. No streets or roads, only sand everywhere that is scorching during the day. No supermarkets, pharmacies, ATM’s, sewers, doctors, or stores.
There are a couple of places to eat and a small group of Pousadas and Villas to stay at. For the group of kiteboarders (no windsurfers in sight) these two are the center of activities. From beers to eating and hanging out, the Pousadas by the beach are were you’ll spend most of your time outside of the water. The locals have that end-of-the-world look: unencumbered by current events or the rising tides created by climate change. But Atins is the best place to reach the Lencois Maranhenses and it’s hard to reach northern boundary.
The Lencois Maranhenses
The Lencois Maranhenses is arresting in its beauty and intriguing because of its isolation. Noone stumbles upon the Lencois these days. The usual litany of Eurpeans “colonized” the area. As part of the equinoctal colonies, this remote part of the world has barely developed. With few other resources than sand, wind, and space, Northeast Brazil has started to see development only in the last decade. To say the least, getting to the Lencois takes a commitment to traveling to a remote part of the world were there is little to no infrastructure and that is never for the Carnival Cruises crowd. The actual formation is little more than 600 square miles of talcum powder sand and crystal blue water – words do not do it justice.
Its hard getting to the Lencois
We arrived on a Thursday to Atins and Marco’s place. Marco, an Italian ex-pat, had helped us getting to Atins from Jericoacoara. He’s a nice-enough guy with a small hotel that he built himself through hard work and perseverance. Local lore has that Marco reached Atins in the early 00’s and rode it first. This area is a hard place to be in. No reliable local services of any kind and little to no help from anyone. But yet, Marco makes it everyday and his place is the center of the those that are not “showing off” their “global-travel-skills”.
There are other places where you can find the Russian 55 year old business man and the 32 year old Miami based “broker” and his 21 year old girlfriend, but Marco’s is that place that exists that allows the others to provide those experiences to the kite-set – Core.
Getting to the Lencois requires quite a bit of coordination and some luck. The wet season is unreliable and the fresh water lagoons require rain. Online resources are lacking and there is no tourism infrastructure further than some local “tourist agencies”. Nevertheless, after spending the afternoon figuring out how to get around – exclusively on green Honda 4×4 ATV’s or on foot – Marco put us in touch with a local that had a Honda we could reasonably rent and, a couple of days later, take us around the Lencois.