Genipabu: a completely unique spectacle
You can visit as often as you like but it will never be the same experience…because the dunes of this oasis change every day with the wind. Another reason to return!
Allow us to set the scene. Here we are: in Brazil, the land of the Caipirinha, the carnival and tiny bikinis and although there is no lack of sand on its beaches, here, we’re talking about vast amounts of sand. On the north coast you can find the Dunes Ecological Tourism Park in Genipabu. Although it doesn’t sound especially attractive, we can guarantee you that it’s the closest thing you’ll find to a roller coaster made of sand. Or rather several roller coasters made of sand, because the dunes move and the wind shapes them as it wishes so that you never get bored on your journey.
Genipabu or Jenipabu
According to The Brazilian Academy of Letters, it should be spelt with a “j”, because it comes from “jenipa-bu”, an indigenous word that means “eat genipapo”. However, locals and the media use “Genipabu”, which was the founding name of the city.
The best way to experience this spectacle is to race across its 1,172 hectares (we did warn you that there’s a lot of sand!) in a buggy. You can book the tour with various companies or even through your hotel. Before beginning, the buggy driver will ask you if you want to experience your trip “com ou sem emoção” (with or without thrills). Whichever you choose, you’ll enjoy a desert landscape although, of course, if you choose the “with thrills” option then you’ll enjoy a day full of adrenaline on four wheels. Or even on no wheels, because the acrobatics of the driver will make you fly between the dunes due to changes in gradient and a height of up to 30 metres. Hold on tight, because during this wild trip you’ll be making vertical jumps of almost 90 degrees, and although the following day you may find yourself remembering all the bumps incurred in your passenger seat, we’re sure that you’ll feel it was worth it and will want to repeat this experience…which is unrepeatable because the winds change the site every day! For your safety, please remember that your vehicle must be accredited by Setur, the official organisation responsible for this activity in the country.
Among the enormous dunes of white lies a lagoon surrounded by lush vegetation. The truth is that a desert is not a desert unless there is an oasis. The Genipabu Lagoon is the perfect place to take a break between buggy jumps and have a dip. In the past, this experience used to include ‘ski-bunda’, which consisted of using a wooden board as a sledge to descend down to the lagoon, but this was prohibited for the preservation of the site. However, as adrenaline junkies, let’s continue our journey by buggy. Buggy is not the only way to enjoy the moving dunes. Although not as fast or as lively, a camel ride does bring with it the authentic stamp of the desert, in the classic style of Lawrence of Arabia.
Lots of tours also include other stops, such as Jacuma Lagoon, where you can be initiated into the practice of ‘aero-bunda’, (where you sit in a chair hanging from a steel cable and descend, finally falling into the water) and Pitangui Lagoon, which is perfect for eating in the open air because the tables in the bars are right on the shore and you’ll be sitting with your feet in the water.