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Piauí Travel Guide

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Piauí sets itself apart from Northeast's other states in many ways, and chief among them is that it is the least maritime of the bunch. It is th e only northeastern state whose capital is not located by the sea.

It has the shortest coastal strip in the region - stretching just 66 kilometers (41 miles). And, unlike the rest of the Northeast, settlement here began inland, in the sertão.

The colonization of Piauí (" river of piaus" in Tupi Guarani, a reference to the abundant fish in the state) began when pioneers left Bahia and Pernambuco in the 17th century, in search of new pastures.

The city of Oeiras was the first to be colonized. Other towns sprang up quickly afterwards, and the Rio Parnaiba, the second largest river in the Northeast, linked them together. The river helped cities such as Floriano, Amarante, and Teresina, the state's capital since 1852, to flourish.

Map of Piauí Brazil

Map of Piauí Brazil

The Rio Parnaíba known to locals as "Velho Monge" (Old Monk), begins in the Serra das Mangabeiras Range, on the border between Tocantins and Bahia; it flows 1,480 kilometers (920 miles) east to the Atlantic.

At the mouth of the river is the Parnaíba Delta, the largest delta in the Americas and one of the most interes ting stretches of Brazilian coastline. The hot, arid lands of Piauí's sertão reveal dazzling natural wonders like the rock formations in the Sete Cidades National Park and the rock faces in the Serra das Confusões National Park.

The state's greatest treasure is the collection of rupestrian paintings in the Serra da Capivara National Park; Unesco declared the park to be a World Heritage Site in 1991.

Charming Teresina is a main gateway to many of Piauí's attractions. Anyone heading to São Raimundo Nonato, a base for visitors to the Serra da Capivara and Serra das Confusoes National Parks, should go through Petrolina, in Pernambuco. They are also being accessible from the Parnaíba Delta.

HIGHLIGHTS

• The cultural heritage of Teresina.
• The wind-carved rocks in the Parque Nacional de Sete Cidades reserve.
• The Parque Nacional Serra da Capivara, a reserve that holds the world's largest collection of petroglyphs, or rock paintings.
• The rock formations in the Serra das Confusões mountain range.
• The mangroves, dunes, and beaches of the Parnaíba River Delta.

 

WHEN TO GO

• Visit the Parnaiba River Delta any time during the year. There are more options for boat trips between December and March.
• The national parks are at their greenest between December and May, though rain can make the trails more difficult.
• From May to November, the caatinga vegetation loses its foliage and animals are easier to observe.

TERESINA

Map of Teresina Piauí Brazil

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Teresina is 350 kilometers (217 miles) from the coast, but its two rivers, the Poti and Parnaíba, provide much-needed cool breezes in a city where the average annual temperature is 30°C (86°F).

Founded in the 18th century, Teresina was initially called Vila do Poti; it was renamed in honor of Empress Teresa Cristina when it became the capital in 1852. The city is located in J region known as Chapada do Corisco (Flash Plateau) - named for the frequent flashes of lightning in the skies before a rainstorm. TeresinJ is flat, with a simple grid of streets. Unlike in other northeastern capitals, few tourists visit here. Those who do, however, have the privilege of enjoying over 30 city parks and a surprising variety of cultural events and lively nightlife. The schedule of cultural festivities is available at the city's Casa da Cultura.


PEDRO II SQUARE

Praҫa Pedro II is Teresina's cultural hot spot - the focus of the city's bohemian life, and a meeting place for artists. Here you'll find the Teatro 4 de Setembro (Praҫa Pedro II), a theater built in 1894, which opens its doors every week for affordable theatrical performances. The old Cine Rex, with its art deco faҫade, opened in 1939 and now functions as a live-music venue.

The Central do Artesanato is a must see. This crafts center sells folk art, with an emphasis on carved wood, hammocks, and opal items from the town of Pedro II. It also sells Abrahao Cavalcante's hand- crafted buriti; wood filrniture.

CULTURAL CENTER

The Casa da Cultura operates inside a well-maintained building built in 1870.

It documents the city's history in seven rooms that feature a collection of photographs, paintings, coins, and other items. The center also contains pieces related to the lives of illustrious locals like journalist Carlos Castelo Branco (1920-1993) and photographer José de Medeiros (1921- 1990).

Branco donated his library, which is available for reference, to the center, and some of de Medeiros's beautiful pictures are also on display here. Rua Rui Barbosa, 348, Centro.

PIAUÍ MUSEUM

This former seat of government was erected in 1859 and restored in 2005. It houses a collection of religious art, canvases by significant local painters, including Gabriel Archanjo and Fernando Costa, as well as wood carvings by Mestre Dezinho and Nonato de Oliveira.

The Museu do Piauí also features a miniature replica of a Parnaíba steamship and other 19th century objects. Praҫa Marechal Deodoro da Fonseca.

KARNAK PALACE

The seat of government since 1926, the sumptuous Paláicio Karnak was built in classical style between 1874 and 1886. It now houses several art collections as well as lovely gardens designed by landscape artist Roberto Burle Marx. Visits inside need to be arranged in advance. Avenida Antonio Freire, 1450, Centro.

DIÁRIOS CLUB CULTURAL CENTER

The Clube dos Diários hosted legendary Carnival balls in the 1960s.

Today, it is a cultural center and meeting point for local writers, artists, singers, and journalists. It also houses the Torquato Neto cinema, which offers free showings at midday. A small store inside the club sells the locals' latest CDS and books. Rua Álvaro Mendes, Centro.

OFICINA DA PALAVRA CULTURAL CENTER

This center includes a library, auditorium, lecture room, and an art gallery, which exhibits works by regional artists. It also distributes the Calendario Portico, a free monthly publication showcasing the work of one poet and one artist. The "Encontros Inevitaveis" (Unavoidable Gatherings) take place here starting at 8 pm on the last Wednesday of every month; these literary / musical gatherings focus on the work of local and international poets. Rua Benjamin Constant, 1400, Centro.

ON THE BANKS OF THE POTI RIVER

At the end of every afternoon, people fill the Avenida Raul Lopes. This promenade along the banks of the Rio Poti is popular with runners, walkers, cyclists, and couples. At nightfall, kiosks attract a wide range of people, from businessmen to students, with happy hours that tend to extend well into the lught. Caneleiro (opposite the river side Mall) is a pleasant place to sample the city's classic meal: cold beer with tasty paҫoca (beef jerky and manioc flour).

The restaurant's name honors the caneleiro, a tree that is the symbol of Teresina. Visitors will find good facilities and stores at Teresina Shopping (Avenida Raul Lopes, 1000, Bairro dos Noívos).

ENCONTRO DOS RIOS PARK

The Parque Encontro dos Rios begins at the very point where the Rio Parnaíba meets the Rio Poti, just before the joined waters head toward the coast. A large statue of Fisherman Crispim stands in the park. The statue is informally known as " Cabeҫa de Cuia" (Gourd Head), in reference to a character of regional folklore who, according to legend, is condemned to wander along the river until he can devour seven virgins named Maria.

Leafy trees line the Parnaiba, and you can see fishermen from the Poti Velho neighborhood casting their nets into the water from their brightly colored canoes. Avenida Boa Esperanҫa, Poti Velho.

GUITAR PLAYERS

Guitar players (violeiros) usually play in Teresina's bars and restaurants at night, often going into the early morning. Casa do Cantador (Rua Lúcia, 1419, Vermelha), a simple wooden bar surrounded by leafy mango trees, is a meeting place for the violineiros. They perform every night, but their Wednesday performances are the most popular.

SETE CIDADES NATIONAL PARK

Map of Sete Cidades National Park Piauí Brazil

Map of Sete Cidades National Park Piauí Brazil

The Parque Nacional de Sete Cidades, 200 kilometers (124 miles) north of Teresina, has been a national park since 1961. Its 6,221 hectares (15,270 acres) reveal a wealth of geological monuments and a rare archaeological heritage.

The area straddles the cerrado to caatinga landscapes, and the fauna and flora reflect the fact that they live in a transitional zone. The wildlife relies upon the park's 22 springs and several streams. The first attested references to this region date back to 1886: Jácome Avelino from Ceará stated that "on a huge plain the place called Seven Cities (Sete Cidades) can be found, which local people say is magical, and they tell many stories about it, which are nothing more than superstition". What is certain, however, is that the area consists of seven groups of sa ndstone, each of which has been carved by time and weather.

From the Segunda Cidade lookout point, visitors can discern shapes that resemble roofs, chimneys, castles, forts, houses, as well as animals and human figures. At the end of the afternoon, when the rocks reflect the setting sun's gold tones, the area's aura is particularly mys terious. The curiously shaped rocks also bear paintings, ranging from 5,000 to 10,000 years old, that depict geometric symbols and animals in shades of red and yellow.

The local fauna includes red broket deers, pacas, lesser antea ters, iguanas, rock cavies, nine-banded armadillos, agoutis, bush dogs, and more than 100 bird species. The verdant vegetation that grows between May and July, the period of light rains, becomes somewhat yellow during the dry summer season (between November and March). Large trees like the souari, bacuri, jatoba, trumpet angelim, sambaíba, and cajuí are everywhere.

In the dry areas, typical caatinga species (like the spiny shrubs called juazeiros), the jurema tree, the Brazilian pepper tree, and several types of cacti grow.

Near the springs you'll find palms such as carnaúba, tucum, and buriti. You can drive through all 12 kilometers (7 miles) of the park in three hours, including stops at several small trails, or you can spend three to six hours exploring a smaller area on foot.

Another option is to rent a bicycle in the park itself. However you choose to explore the park, go early in the day, before the sun gets too hot, and, if hiking, take along a hat, comfortable clothes, sneakers, sun screen, snacks, and water. Visitors must be accompanied by Ibama (Brazilian Institute of Environment and Renewable Natural Resources) -accredited guides. You can get to the park from Teresina by taking the BR-343 highway north to BR-222 north to the PI-111 state highway; follow this to the south gate.

The park's north gate is accessible from Parnaíba by driving through Piracuruca (on BR-343 highway), which is 140 kilometers (87 miles) south of Parnaíba. Watch out for animals on the road on both routes. 

PEDRO II

Perched on top of the Serra dos Mataes Range, at an elevation of600 meters (1 ,970 feet), the town of Pedro II is known for its old, brightly colored houses, quiet, tree-lined streets, and a fresh mountain climate.

The town, named after the 19th century Portuguese emperor of Brazil, is located 50 kilometers (31 miles) southeast of Piripiri on the BR-343 highway.

The area contains the only opal mines in South America. Transparent or opaque, the opal is a rare stone which reflects light like a prism. Stores in every corner of the town sell this gem, with one of the best being Opalas Pedro II (Avenida Coronel Cordeiro, 672, Centro).

Pedro II is not just known for mining; it also produces hammocks. The Oficina do Artesanato offers an up-close look at the entire process - from hand-weaving to embroidering and sewing (Praҫa Domingos Mourão Filho, 329, Centro).

Also, the Festival de Inverno, held in June, on the Corpus Christi holiday, draws crowds with its jazz and blues performances. The Morro do Gritador, at 720 meters high, a£lo rds a stunning view of Pedro II and neighboring Piracuru.

It was known as Coluna Prestes in the 1920s when it was on the path of the crosscountry revolutionary march. A local guide can lead you to the summit.

PRIMEIRA CIDADE: This is the site of Cachoeira do Riachão, a waterfall with a 21-meter (69-foot) drop. The rocks resemble twisted cannons.

SEGUNDA CIDADE: This area is rich in rock paintings. The Arco do Triunfo (Triumphal Arch) - also known as the Arco do Desejo (Arch of Desire) - is here. The iconic rock formation stands 18 meters (59 feet) high and is visible from a nearby lookout.

TERCEIRA CIDADE: The formations called Mapa do Brasil (the Map of Brazil) and Cabe
QUARTA CIDADE: Popular rock formations include the one that resembles two kissing lizards, and another one that looks like an apprentice's attempt at a map of Brazil.

QUINTA CIDADE: Rich in rock inscriptions and monuments, it has, among other formations, the Furna do Indio (Indian's Cave), Camelo (Camel), and Imperador (Emperor) rocks.

SEXTA CIDADE: The perfect polygons that comprise the Pedra da Tartaruga (Turtle Rock), Cachorro (Dog), and Elefante (Elephant) are the biggest attractions here. Note the elephant's "young" trailing behind it!

SÉTIMA CIDADE: This area has the clearest glyphic inscriptions, which are mostly marked in red. Of all the area's rock formations, the most impressive are Casario (Houses) and Gruta do Pajé Cave.

OEIRAS

The colonizers were the first to make their way in to the sertno region of the current state of Piauí. They settled on the banks of the Rio do Mocha and founded the village that would become Oeiras, 320 kilometers (199 miles) south of Teresina and 280 kilometers (174 miles) north of São Raimundo Nonato.

They built a small wattle and daub chapel here in 1697, which the Igreja de Nossa Senhora da Vitoria (finished in 1733) later replaced. This church, a nation al heritage site, still stands in tiny Oeiras, which has preserved many lovely old buildings on its narrow streets. The Procissão de Bom Jesus dos Passos, a traditional town procession, brings together thousands of the faithful during Holy Week.

The town's traditional mandolin players stroll through the streets with their instruments during the procession. It's also possible to spot some of these musicians leisurely strumming their mandolins in the square on Saturday or Sunday evenings.

SÃO RAIMUNDO NONATO

Locals proudly call this town the "capital of prehistory." As a gateway to the Parque Nacional da Serra da Capivara, São Raimundo Nonato relies on tourism to the park and to the town's own natural attractions, which amount to an open-air prehistory museum. As in the rest of the state, the seasons are well defined here - in the dry season (May through November), the vegetation loses its leaves, and during the rainy season, December through early May, everything becomes green again. The most important local events take place when the rains stop. During the Festa do Padroeiro in August, the locals decorate the whole town with colorful flags in honor of the town's patron saint,
Raymond Nonnatus.

The Serra da Capivara International Festival, in September, showcases music, theater, and art from all over the world. Getting to São Raimundo Nonato is not easy: it is 540 kilometers (336 miles) south of Teresina, first along the BR-316 highway to the BR-343, then along the PI-140 state highway south to the BR-324 highway. If traveling from Petrolina, in Pernambuco, take BR-235 west to Remanso then take the I3R-324 highway north. Stretches of road along this 300 kiIometers (186 miles) portion of BR-324 are in poor condition.

ARCHAEOLOGICAL MUSEUM

The Museu do Homem Americano opened in 1998 and ofters a good introduction to Piauí's rich archaeological and geological heritage.

Two floors exhibit panels, photographs, and rock samples that have been collected over the past 30 years. Highlights include the funeral urns and human fossils, especially Zuzu, a skeleton that's estimated to be around 10,000 years old. Archaeologists unearthed Zuzu at the Toca dos Coqueiros excavation site.

The Fundaҫão Museu do Homem Americano, which is also responsible for maintaining the National Park, runs the museum. Centro Cultural Sérgio Motta, Campestre.

SERRA DA CAPIVARA NATIONAL PARK

Map of Serra da Capivara National Park Piauí Brazil

Map of Serra da Capivara National Park Piauí Brazil

The world's largest collection of rock paintings is on perpetual exhibit in the 129,140 hectares (319,100 acres) of the Parque Nacional Serra da Capivara. Declared a Unesco World Heritage Site in 1991, the park is home to more than 800 archaeological sites, most of which are in sheltered areas of eroded rock known as tocas.

The 128 sites that are open to visitors offer easy access, paths, and secure stairways that allow you see the paintings up close. Excavations have revealed polished stone artifacts, ceramics, and prehistoric fossils of animals such as sloths and giant armadillos.

Archaeologist Niede Guidon, who runs the park, claims to have discovered signs of a settlement that could be up to 100,000 years old - this goes against the prevailing theory that man arrived in the Americas via the Bering Strait about 20,000 years ago. Controversy aside, the park is absolutely breathtaking: On all sides, you can see rough, hilly land, huge rocks covered in low-lying vegetation, and, on the plateaus, forests with trees up to 20 meters (66 feet) tall.

The park's fauna includes more than 30 kinds of mammals and dozens of bird species, as well as lizards, toads, and snakes. While it's possible to explore the whole park by car, those who want to hike through the park have their choice of trails of varying difficulty levels. Adventure sports, such as hanggliding, are forbidden, and a guide must accompany you through the park (any local hotels or guide agencies in the city can recommend one). Comfortable clothes, sneakers, a hat, and sunscreen are essential for your visit.

PEDRA FURADA VALLEY

A trip to Baixão da Pedra Furada can be done in one day. Start at the park's east entrance, which is just off- the BR-020 highway, pass Sitio do Mocó (which offers facilities, a snack bar, and a campsite).

A route from the east entrance also leads to the Sitio do Meio, which has ceramic fragments from over 8,900 years ago. The route passes by the Toca do Cajueiro, Toca da Fumaҫa, Toca do Macário, and Toca do Fundo do Baixão excavation sites. Toca do Boqueirão da Pedra Furada is the most important archaeological site in the Serra da Capivara. Here, archaeologists have discovered remains of a prehistoric bonfire that, according to Niede Guidon's team, proves that humans lived in the region 100,000 years ago.

From the Baixão da Pedra Furada you can reach the Circuito do Alto da Pedra Furada trail, which passes through the Baixão das Mulheres, a 60-meter (197 - foot) deep canyon with three archaeological sites, as well as Alto do Caldeirão dos Rodrigues and Canoas. Hale and hearty visitors can climb the 350 steps to the top of Pedra Furada; the route is not recommended for anyone with heart problems or limited physical fitness.

ALTO DOS CANOAS AND CALDEIRÃO DOS RODRIGUES TRAIL

From the Toca do Arame do Sansão excavation sites at the bottom of Baixão da Pedra Furada, an 500-meter (half-a-mile) trail takes visitors to a set of stone steps. These stairs lead to the top of the plateau and the rock paintings of the Sitio dos Canoas site.

From here you can check out the caldeirões (cauldrons) - depressions in the rock that retain rainwater. From the top of the plateau you can descend the iron steps to the bottom of the valley, called Caldeirão dos Rodrigues ll, where several rock paintings depict scenes from prehistoric life.

SERRA DAS CONFUSÕES NATIONAL PARK



The name Serra das Confusões (Confusion Mountain Range) is well deserved: the mountains reflect light in several colors, which is disorienting to anyone who looks at the range from a distance.

Since 1998, the unspoiled Parque Nacional Serra das Confusões has preserved about half a million hectares (1.2 miilion acres) of land. lt's home to various little-known prehistoric sites, which are scattered among rocks and caatinga vegetation.

The park's fauna includes the giant anteater, puma, jaguar, and the largest bat in the Americas, the spectral bat (Vampyrum spectrum), which has a wingspan of up to 1 meter (3.3 feet).

The Gmta do Riacho dos Bois, a three-kiIometer (two-mile) passage through the rocks, is the main attraction in the park. The park has no visitors' facilities. To arrange a trip, visitors should contact the local Ibama branch, in Caracol, 100 kilometers (62 miles) west of São Raimundo Nonato on the PI-144 highway. The 10-kilometer road to the park begins in Caracol.

DESFlLADElRO DA CAPIVARA TRAIL

Thousands of years ago, mountain dwellers used the trail and its many rock shelters as they passed through the Capivara Canyon. Today, the shelters are known as Toca da Entrada do Pajaú, Toca do Barro, Toca do Inferno, Toca da Entrada do Baixão da Vaca, Toca do Pajaú, and Toca do Paraguaio.

A lookout point on the way into the canyon offers a panoramic view of the Planicie do São Francisco plain.You can also hike to two other sites from this trail: the Veadinhos Azuis, a collection of blue-paint rock paintings (the first to be discovered in the world in this color), and Boqueirão do Paraguaio, a lone stand of Atlantic forest in the midst of caatinga vegetation, where prehistoric man left paintings of human figures and geometric shapes.

The gate off the BR-020 highway, a bit to the north of Coronel José Dias, leads to the Desfiladeiro da Capivara.

BAIXÃO DO PERNA AND ANDORINHAS TRAIL

On the edge of a canyon, the rock face of Baixão do Perna houses four archaeological sites. One of these sites contains the park's most famous rock painting, which depicts an orgy.

From this canyon, you can reach the Toca do Chico Coelho and Toca do Josué, as well as the Vila do Zabele, which leads to the sites on the Alto da Chapada - the top of the plateau.

The trail is accessible through the Serra Vermelha gatehouse on the PI-140 state highway. The highway also leads to the Baixão das Andorinhas, a canyon known for the thousands of swallows that fly through every day around 5:30pm. The birds create a spectacular visual display.

THE HOMBU GUIDED NATURE TRAIL

The word hombu means "come and see with me" in the language of the indigenous people known as the Ge, who used to inhabit this region.

The nine-kilometer (6-mile) hike along Trilha Hombu starts at Sitio do Mocó, on top of the range at Toca de Inveҫão. Keep an eye out here for the lagartixas-da-serra, a lizard species that's native to the Capivara region. The next stop, Toca do Martiliano, is a bird-watchers' paradise. Following along the rock face, in a landscape dominated by stone slabs and cacti, you will eventually reach Boqueirão dos Caititus.

Here, there are two archaeological sites decorated with rock paintings and protected by high trees. The route passes by Toca da Ema and visits areas with large numbers of robust and the blondcrested woodpeckers are found . The
trail ends at Toca da Roҫa do Sítio do Bras I, where the first colonizers lived. The remains of a wattle and daub building lean against the rock face, damaging the paintings.

PARNAÍBA RIVER DELTA

Map of Parnaíba Delta Piauí Brazil

Map of Parnaíba Delta Piauí Brazil

Between the coasts of Piauí and Maranhão, the Rio Parnaiba meets the sea to form the only open-sea delta in the Americas. As it nears the Atlantic, the Parnaíba branches out in five directions to create a set of ecosystems that sprawl over 2,700 square kilometers (1,040 square miles). Beaches, dunes, channels, and mangroves encircle more than 80 islands.

Although 65% of the delta is located in the state of Maranhão, Parnaíba, a town in Piauí, is the main gateway to the region.

Parnaíba, 354 kilometers (220 miles) north of Teresina and 19 kilometers (12 miles) southwest of Luis Correia, was a flourishing trading post for beef jerky in the 18th and 19th centuries. At the beginning of the 20th century, exported carnauba wax, used to polish furniture, shoes, and other items. Lovely buildings from these prosperous times still stand along the town's wide, tree-lined street.

The nostalgic town of Porto das Barcas contains a small store, restaurant, and pizzeria among its beautiful old buildings. Oil lamps light this area on the banks of the Rio Igaraҫu, which is a branch of the Rio Parnaíba.

Six kilometers (4 miles) from Parnaíba, on the delta's largest island, Ilha Grande de Santa Isabel, the port of Porto do Tatu offers boats that run to local attractions, including towns that lie along the edge of the delta. The boats hold between 40 and 250 passengers.

You can also rent a motorboat to get around. Some routes include a trip to Lenҫõis Maranhenses.

BASKETS AND LACE

The carnauba palm, which has supported the economy of the small delta communities for decades, is the raw material now used in a lot of the local craftwork. On Ilha Grande de Santa Isabel, a consortium of 25 families called the Associaҫão de Tranҫados de Santa Isabel (Ilha Grande de Santa Isabel) makes baskets, ornaments, table mats, and other items from this palm. In the Morro da Mariana neighborhood, on the same island, lace makers produce clothes and accessories that eventually end up in the sophisticated clothes stores of the south.

 

BOAT TRIPS THROUGH THE PARNAÍBA DELTA

There are two available boat trips that cross the labyrinthine mangroves of the Parnaíba Delta. On one, largeboats holding up to 250 people cross in eight hours while serving fruit, lunch, and a caranguejada (crab feast).

The boat stops at both Praia de Ponta das Canarias, a beach covered in carnauba palms, and at Ilha de Poldros, an island popular with kitesurfers.

The other option involves going down the river on a voadeira, which is a simple motorboat that seats no more than four people. The four-hour trip takes in Ilha de Poldros as well as Baia do Feijão Bravo, a bay with rough seas. The bay is surrounded by mangroves, and natural salt-water pools form here at low tide. The best place to stay is on Ilha das Canarias, which has a small, friendly village where most people live by fishing and ca tching crabs; this island is the departure point for trips to Ilha do Caju.

BEACHES

Piauí's 66 kilometers (41 miles) of coastline are a virtually unbroken string of dunes and calm seas.

The fishing community of Cajueiro da Praia borders Ceará, which houses a research base for the Projeto Peixe-Boi. The peixe-boi (manatee) is an endangered species often spotted in these waters. Praia de Barra Grande, 8 kilometers (5 miles) west of Cajueiro, has strong waves and a strip of white sand. This beach leads to Barra do Rio Camurupim and its tiny fishing village.

On the other side of the estuary, Macapá and Maramar beaches are popular for their calm waters and seafood kiosks. The two semi-deserted neighboring beaches, Carnaubinhas and Itaqui, have strong waves. Praia dos Coqueiros offers the best options for accommodations and restaurants.

Atalaia, less than 10 kilometers (6 miles) from Luís Correia, also has kiosks and hotels. From here you can see the wild vegetation and the dunes of Ilha Grande de Santa Isabel.

That island's beach, Praia de Pedra do Sal, has its kiosks and surfer-friendly waters.

CAJU ISLAND

Englishman James Frederick Clark settled in the delta region in 1847 in order to exploit the area's carnauba palms. He forbade hunting and deforestation on the 100-square-kilometer (39-square-mile) island, and this small paradise owes him many thanks for its existence.

Ilha do Caju, 50 kilometers (31 miles) west of Parnaíba, actually lies in Maranhão. It contains six ecosystems and has 18 kilometers (11 miles) of beaches, four different types of marshland, flood lands, lakes, dunes, and forests. The island's wildlife includes coatis, foxes, armadillos, ocelots, as well as flocks of scarlet ibis - the symbol of the delta.

Visits must be arranged in advance with the Refúgio Ecológico Ilha do Caju, the island's only guesthouse. It provides boats and guides to those wishing to explore on foot, on horseback, or by jeep. Rubber boots, long-sleeves, sunscreen , and insect repellent are all recommended.

FROM THE PARNAÍBA DELTA TO LENÇÓIS MARANHENSES

There are two ways to travel from the Parnaíba Delta to Lenҫóis Maranhenses in the neighboring state of Maranhão.

The first involves a three-hour drive that requires a 4 x 4 vehicle. On this route from Parnaíba toward Barreirinhas, gateway to the Parque Nacional dos Lenҫóis Maranhenses, consider stopping along the way to visit Paulino Neves. Better known as Rio Novo, this fishing village has dunes that extend all the way to the park. The other travel option is more tiring but more popular with the locals: It involves an uncomfortable eight-hour trip in a boat known as "gaiola" ("cage").

The boat travels from Porto das Barcas, in Parnaíba to Tutóia, in Maranhão. It's best to take a hammock, water, snacks, and insect repellent.Trips to Rio Novo, Barreirinhas, and Caburé can be arranged, and leave from the center of Tutóia , where anyone who wants to visit Lenҫóis Maranhenses can find accommodations.

 Piauí travel guide and tourism information such as accommodation, festivals, transport, maps, activities and attractions in Brazil - Brazil Travel Guide

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