Lençóis Maranhenses National Park in Barreirinhas, Brazil
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White dunes, blue lagoons
From the air, the mesmerizing tapestry of sandy dunes and lagoons you see here gives Lençóis Maranhenses National Park an otherworldly, desert-like appearance. Located in the sparsely populated Northeast corner of Brazil, this park gets far too much annual rainfall — nearly 50 inches — to be considered a desert. In fact, heavy rain is part of what makes this place unique. Nearly 70% of its annual rainfall comes between January and May, filling the park's nearly 40,000 lagoons to the brim with fresh rainwater. Why doesn’t the water sink into the sand? A layer of impermeable bedrock beneath the dunes prevents that from happening.