There is a famous stretch of dirt road on the west coast of Madagascar between Morondava and Belo Tsiribihina. It is called The Avenue of the Baobabs (or Alley of the Baobabs) and it’s a bucket-list must. Between 20 and 25 baobabs, which can live to 800 years, line the dirt road for roughly 260 metres. Each of them tower above the earth, some reaching up to 30 metres. The sheer scope is something to be marvelled at and it’s said to be the most attractive road on the island.
With their massive trunks, crooked branches and furry fruit, baobabs have learned how to adapt to a dry and hostile environment – a capacity we may come to envy as the planet starts to heat up. The secret of the baobab’s success in surviving in harsh environments and the reason for its massive trunk is that it has little wood fiber but a large water storage capacity. Each tree can hold up to 300 liters of water, enabling it to live through long periods without rain.
Sometime they are called “roots of the sky” because when the trees are without leaves they look like roots…big trees planted in the ground upside down, with the roots in the sky. in fact one of the stories about their origin appealed to me and goes as follows: when God created the world, he gave the Malagasy people some of the most beautiful trees on Earth, one of them being The Baobab. The devil was so jealous that he turned all the Baobabs upside down so he could enjoy the view from hell. From that day on the Baobabs grew with their roots in the sky.
The Avenue of Baobabs is one of Madagascar’s wonders, with the potential of bringing money and employment to this underprivileged part of the world. However, there is no entrance fee, a very small visitor centre and no opportunity for locals to profit from the tourist stream, besides setting up some handicraft stalls or harassing tourists for tips.