The Route of the Emotions is one of the most desired tourist experiences in Brazil. Well, no wonder: the tour connects the beautiful beaches of Ceará, the richness and the wonders of the Delta of Parnaíba, between the States of Piauí and Maranhão, and the unique landscapes of the Lençóis Maranhenses. It is a journey to be made preferably by car, because there's a lot to see along the way. The roads are in good condition and are well signposted.
Among the many destinations in the Route, we have selected three, one in each state. And we have prepared recommendations for spending one day in each, so that the trip can be taken in a three-day weekend, for example.
But you can adapt the script to your own pace and include other stops along the way. Or even stay longer in the cities selected here, using the information and suggestions listed on this site.
So, get your bathing suit and sunscreen ready and embark on this route of so many experiences. And emotions.
Our journey begins with Jericoacoara, in Ceará. To reach it, while the city's airport isn’t ready, it is best to catch a flight to Fortaleza, 245 km away, and there, rent the car that will be used throughout the trip. The ideal is to be in Jericoacoara the night before the start of the tour, in order to spend the next day exploring the local wonders.
The first to be visited is the Jijoca Lagoon, which encompasses Lagoa Azul and Lagoa do Paraíso. It is surrounded by fine white sand dunes and crystal-clear waters that invite you for a refreshing dive. The large extension of the lake and its strong winds form an ideal setting for the practice of sports such as windsurfing and SUP. A must-have experience is relaxing on the partially submerged hammocks while one of the local tents prepares you a delicious lunch.
From there, go to the Village of Jericoacoara, within the National Park, where the Jericoacoara Beach is located. But you're not going to stay there, at least not for now. When you arrive at the beach, go on a 40-minute walk across the sands to the famous Pedra Furada, a rock formation which was carved during millions of years by the action of water and wind. If the tide is low, there will be many natural pools along the way. Be sure to stop to watch the fish.
Before it gets dark, return to Jericoacoara Beach and enjoy its calm waters to practice SUP and sailing. And slide down its dunes on a piece of cardboard, a local practice called esquibunda (literally, butt-skiing). Spend the end of the day at Duna do Pôr do Sol (Sunset Dune). As happens in Rio de Janeiro during the summer, locals and tourists applaud fervently the moment in which the Sun sets down.
Parnaíba and Jericoacoara are separated by little more than 200 km of road. If you wish to go directly from one to another, we recommend you leave early. If you have more time,make stops along the way, since the Route of the Emotions hides many surprises and destinations.
The greatest attraction of Parnaíba is its Delta, the largest in the open sea of the Americas and the third largest in the world. You can make several tours through its waters and its unique nature. Just choose what you want: watching animals, swimming (in the river and in the sea), hiking. There are options for all tastes.
A good choice is Lagoa do Portinho, which remained silted up for years and is now full again thanks to the action of local inhabitants, who, with the permission of the responsible agencies, opened irrigation channels. In addition to swimming, you can ride a banana boat and even go on the zip-line, which goes into the waters of the pond.
But if you want to swim in the sea, be sure to go to Praia da Pedra do Sal, also called Pedral. Located on Ilha Grande, it is surrounded by large rocks, dunes and ponds, and has, on one side, warm and shallow waters, which are good for both a relaxed and carefree swim and for practicing SUP and kitesurfing. And, on the other side, there are strong waves, perfect for surfing. Its tents serve cold drinks and freshly prepared meals.
200 km more and you’ll get to Barreirinhas, gateway to the gorgeous Lençóis Maranhenses National Park, from where the organized tours to the local attractions depart. In a day, you can visit some places of this incredible destination.
The first is the Mandacaru Lighthouse. From the top of its 180 steps, you may have a beautiful view of the Preguiças River and of Praia do Caburé. A good starting point for observing the local nature.
From there, embark on one of the organized tours towards Lagoa Azul. When crossing the calm Preguiças River, heading to the Park, observe the landscape of mangroves and coconut palms and get in the contemplative spirit of the region.
The best time to visit the Lençóis is between May and August, when the ponds are fuller. But some of them, like Lagoa Azul, never dry up. This means that you can enjoy this paradise the whole year. And it's worth it, because its warm waters with shades ranging from blue to green contrast with the whiteness of the sand dunes around it and create an unforgettable scenery, especially at the end of the day, when the Sunset exalts this spectacle.
At the end of the trip, you will certainly agree: the Route of the Emotions lives up to its name.