Madagascar’s spectacular Avenue of the Baobabs is a must-see for any serious traveler. Instantly recognizable with their distinctive silhouette, the trees here tower above you in isolation, their iconic flat-topped branches distinct against the sky at the end of their long trunks.
All the trees lining the Avenue are at least 800 years old and stretch up to a height of a whopping 98 feet in the air. They have gained the nickname renala, meaning ‘mother of the forest’ by the locals. The baobabs are often also referred to as an ‘upside down tree’, because of their prominent ‘crown’ of branches in the sky.
There is nothing so quintessentially African as watching the myriad colors of sunset transform these awesome giant trees. Get the Avenue of the Baobabs on your BUCKiTDREAM planner right now and kickstart your next adventure!
Why You Should Go Now
They’re also currently on the endangered list, meaning it’s never been more important to see these incredible trees. They were once surrounded by a huge, dense tropical forests but with the conservation work of many locals, the remaining trees were given temporary protected status in July 2007. Now the Avenue of the Baobabs is on its way to becoming the country’s first national monument, and the government has promised to expand the nation’s protected areas.
With the anticipated announcement of the national monument, you can be sure this natural wonder is going to attract a lot more visitors. While it’s currently a popular spot, now you can explore the remaining 25 trees in peace and freely roam around the huge surrounding area.
Be warned; it’s a long and bumpy road to get to the Avenue. You must hire a driver with a 4×4 in order to get there, and often your driver will double as a guide and give you plenty of context and history to get the most out of your visit.
Most visitors come from Morondava, the closest and most convenient stop at a one-hour drive away. There are also plenty of decent restaurants and hotels here as well; Chez Maggie is a place that combines both and is popular with visitors seeking a romantic hideaway. You can also use it as a convenient base to visit the Tsingy de Bemaraha National Park – a UNESCO heritage site – and the Kirindy Forest Reserve.
If you’re in the planning stages, April is a great time to go. Since it’s the end of the rainy season, you won’t have too much trouble with flooding on the local roads and you’ll get there before the huge rush of tourists. If you want to see the Baobabs in full flower, February and March is best but leave some extra planning time on your trip; you may have to change your route due to floods on the road.
Getting the Most Out Of Your Trip
The Avenue is probably one of the most touristy spots in the entire country, but don’t let that put you off. The sight of the sun sinking behind the trees will be one you never forget. At sunset, you can watch the leaves and bark of the baobabs change colors. Certainly, if you’re an enthusiastic photographer, you should ensure you have enough battery to capture the moment! But you’ll also be richly rewarded if you prefer to sit back and watch the sun meet the African landscape.
If you arrive shortly before sunrise, you’ll have no problem finding the spot where everybody lines up to watch the sunset. If you don’t mind sharing the experience, there’s a great atmosphere with lots of people chilling out on picnic blankets, sharing snacks and playing music. If it feels a bit crowded for you, ask your driver to point you to a viewing spot further up the avenue where you’ll have a bit more space to photograph this once-in-a-lifetime experience.
As long as you don’t mind getting up early, you’ll find the area far quieter for sunset but you’ll have to set your alarm for 4.30am to be there in time!
There are no entrance fees to the area (apart from the parking area which costs 70 cents), so you can come and go as you please. Some locals have set up souvenir stalls and don’t be shy about taking a look; they’re usually selling handmade miniature baobab trees and you’ll be helping put a little money into the local economy. If do you purchase them to bring home, you’ll need to put them in your cargo baggage as wood is not allowed in the airplane cabin.
There are also plenty of children offering their pet chameleons for a photo opportunity, but don’t forget to bring some candy or a little bit of money for them! It’s important, however, that you don’t photograph any of the locals without their consent as it’s considered taboo. If you ask them and they say yes, expect them to ask for money.
The Avenue of the Baobabs is, of course, just one of the amazing sights Madagascar has to offer. Start your planning now to discover this glorious country and share your snaps on social media afterward to inspire others to do the same!