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  • Wolfgang Fobo

Route of Emotions

Breath taking scenery: the Lençois Maranhenses National Park

It started with a failure. And that was a blessing in disguise. We wanted to travel the Route of Emotions, which in Northeastern Brasil starts in São Luis and ends in Fortaleza. Or the other way round. Once that we realized that you cannot reasonably do this tour with a rented car, because it is partly off road, requiring a 4x4 and orientation skills, and also part was to be done by boat, we decided to book such a tour from a local tour operator. São Luís to Fortaleza, with all highlights in between. We found a good one, and we contacted them. Talked over the phone to receive a tailor made package, which we got. Agreed, and it came to payment. And this failed. Repeatedly. Paying by credit card to a local Brasilian company seems to be not possible, and I mentioned this issue already in my Amazon River blog. It is not that your credit card provider or your bank would reject payment, but it is the local Brasilian bank that refuses acceptance of payment, giving the reason that it may be fraudulent. Already in Brasil, and again failing to pay via credit card, we were finally asked to go to a local bank and make a bank transfer, paying cash. Which we refused, too time consuming to get that much cash together, and anyhow I did not want to expose ourselves any longer to Brasilian bureaucracy. So we gave up, which the tour operator understood.

Under UNESCO protection: the historic center of São Luis

Arriving in São Luís from our earlier tour (see the Amazon river and bus tour return blog), by chance we found a little shop in the centre, which advertised the Route of Emotions. In we went, discussing the tour, and once more we were offered a tour very similar to our initial tour that we failed to pay, and you know what? This tour was some 30% below the price we were offered from that other tour operator. And these savings were substantial.

We were lucky: Brasilian Carnival commenced on that day in São Luis

Daniel was the name of the guy, very friendly and also quite capable, sorted out this tour for us on short notice (I confess that we had to keep our breath whether everything was organized accordingly, after we paid).

So we left, of course always with the feeling, whether the handshake would work. With „handshake“ I mean that on a tour of 3 nights and 4 days, you frequently change the guide at the handover location. If I remember correctly, it went like „bus-jeep-boat-boat-jeep-boat-taxi-jeep“, and always the next guide was already waiting with his means of transport. Very well organized, Daniel. Daniel operates „Lençóis Découverte Turismo“ and is fluent in French, plus a good English. And like every Brasilian, Daniel communicates via WhatsApp.

Boat tour on the Preguiças River, starting from Barreirinhas. Stopover at the Dunes

São Luís to Barreirinhas was done with a standard minibus transfer, and Barreirinhas is the starting point to the famous dunes of Lencois Marinhenses.

The beach in Atins: not a reason to visit if you want to go for a swim, as there are better beaches on this tour

To be followed with a boat tour along the river, again to some dunes, and then we were brought to Atins, another sleepy village at the coast. With a beach not really exciting, Atins caters more for kite surfers. And I had the impression that Atins still recovers from the Covid pandemia. Their we had the best fish fillet in our life (Robalo, at the Se Se restaurant), and also we booked a very nice, albeit expensive, Pousada. Atins I would only recommend if you continue your tour direction Parnaíba off-road, along the beach, with an excursion to the Delta of the Americas, the third biggest river delta of the world, another highlight.

With Captain Didi on our private Parnaíba River tour towards Parnaíba, Piauí

Every sunset, almost 3,000 red ibises meet at an little island on the Parnaíba River to pass the night, what a fantastic scenery

Arriving from this river tour, the third night we spent in a very lovely Pousada in Parnaíba, and continued the next morning our private tour with a 4x4 towards Jericoacoara.

Our 4x4 taking a ferry over the river in Camocim

A famous beach village, a "you have to be there" for all sworn Brasilian tourists. Just google it, I need not elaborate further.

On the way to Jericoacoara. Riding on a buggy is what most Brazilians adore.

Sunset on the beach in Jericoacoara

In Jericoacoara ended our official tour of the "Route of Emotions". We continued by private transfer to the airport of Fortaleza, where we hired a car and continued our journey, visiting beaches in Canoe Quebrada (beautiful), Natal, and João Pessoa. In Recife, we returned the car, and continued with our final destination, the paradise island of Fernando de Noronha.

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