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The Dunes of Jenipabu are, along with Ponta Negra and Morro do Careca, the most recognized touristic points of Natal.
Besides the paradisiac beautiness of the scenery, the locals soon learned there was something else to explore: a good driver could turn a ride around the dunes of Jenipabu an experience like a roller coaster ride.
Of course, the dunes are not so high as a roller coaster (the highest dune of Jenipabu is about 12 meters high, the tallest in Latin America), but the fact that the buggy is a open car and that there are no rails to hold the buggy do cause the impression that the car is going to keel over.
More than that: the driver can take a tour "with or without emotion" (the expression comes from Portuguese "com ou sem emoção"). Without emotion means running slower, sliding down only the shortest dunes, warning about the imminent thrills; even "without emotion", this ride is enough to provoke screams and sights.
A ride with emotion means going fast (or going slow and accelerating, suddenly, near the right spots), climbing the tallest dunes, sliding the buggy sideways, accelerating in the curves. Not recommended for the faint hearts.
To enter Jenipabu, drivers and cars must be certified by the Tourist Authority. This is to guarantee the safety of drivers and passengers. Accidents with victims are rare, usually involving unauthorized drivers and cars.
February 2005: it used to be the case that nearly every tour operator in Natal offered beach tours that included a ride around the dunes.
However, some time ago, the owner of the Jenipabu Dunes started to charge for entrance to the dunes (in February 2005, cost is R$ 5 per person). Some drivers and tour operators, revolted against this charging, decided not to include the dunes ride in their packages.
There are still many (around 100) drivers who do the dunes, but they concentrate mostly in the area near Jenipabu.
So, if you want to take a ride around the dunes of Jenipabu, make sure that it´s included in your tour package.
This situation may change in the near future. The government of Rio Grande do Norte is talking to the owner, trying to purchase the area of the dunes; a smaller part was already purchased, and access to it is already free; this area includes the top of dunes (where one can ride dromedaries and see the Lagoon of Jenipabu and the beach line), and is normally included in the tours.
Read more information here:
Tours to the Northern beaches
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visitors since April 5th 2005