When people think of Madagascar, the iconic baobab trees often come to mind. In fact, the baobab tree is the national tree of Madagascar! The trees' seeds are a local delicacy, its hard-shelled fruits' pulp (tasting somewhat like tamarind) is made into a nutritious summer beverage all over Africa, and the bark is used to make rope and roofing materials.
So where to find the iconic baobabs? Rest assured, baobabs are instantly recognizable. They have thick, circular trunks and sparse stubby branches at the top. Of the nine species of baobabs in the world, six grow only in Madagascar. Keep reading to find out exactly where to spot baobabs on your road trip in Madagascar.
Avenue des Baobabs | An iconic roadtrip
As the name suggests, Avenue des Baobabs is the best place in Madagascar to spot the majestic baobab trees.
The road is framed by dozens of ancient baobab trees, creating a setting so beautiful and unique that it may become the country’s first official natural monument. The story goes that when Arab seafarers first visited the area over 1000 years ago and saw the trees, they thought the devil ripped them out of the ground and put them back upside down, as their canopies resemble roots.
The giant baobab trees - many of which are more than 800 years old with trunks that are over 150 feet thick - did not always stand alone. At one time in history, they were part of a rich forest of trees and other plants. However, increasing populations in the area led to massive deforestation, leaving the remaining baobabs in relative isolation.
Thankfully, private organizations have taken notice of the area and are promoting efforts to protect the avenue. This way, the trees might survive for another 800 years to come.
How to get to Avenue des Baobabs?
Avenue des Baobabs is essentially a dirt road on the West Coast of Madagascar, a 45-minute drive from the seaside town of Morondava. To visit the area, you’ll need to pay a small car parking fee for your car. No additional entrance fee is required.
You can include a visit to the Avenue of the Baobabs when driving our Grand Circuit or Western Madagascar itinerary. Some travellers think they can combine a visit to the Avenue on their journey on the RN7, but the site is too far out and not worth the detour. When you branch off the RN7 at Antsirabe, it is still a 12-hour drive to the Avenue de Baobab, and then another 12 hours return via the same route - so definitely not recommended!
When is the best time to visit the Avenue de Baobabs?
The best time to capture the baobabs is at sunrise or sunset when the sky's colours accentuate the trees' red hue. Sunrise attracts fewer crowds than sunset, and if you pass during the day, you'll find yourself mostly alone. It's a magical experience to photograph the line of baobab trees early in the morning, against the dark starry sky with fog-covered trees. Slowly, as it gets lighter, the dark shadows take on more solid forms. The sky seems to transform into a spectrum of colours, from blue and purple to yellow and pink. Not to miss!
Alternative places to see baobab trees in
Can't make it to Avenue des Baobabs? Not to worry! Many people believe the Avenue des Baobabs is one of the only places to see baobas. However, the trees are a natural part of Madagascar's flora - so you’ll be able to spot them all across the country.
Other areas in Madagascar known for their baobabs are:
- The Spiny Forest in Ifaty (close to Tulear on the RN7)
- Sprinkled along the West Coast
- Ankarafantsika National Park (in Northern Madagascar)
Create your baobab roadtrip
A roadtrip in Madagascar would not be the same without spotting the iconic baobab tree. Our self-drive itineraries help you plan your ultimate Madagascar roadtrip, exploring both famous as well as off-the-beaten-track highlights.
Once you've selected your itinerary and rented your car, swing by our practical info section. We have selected multiple important topics that contain information, practical tips and frequently asked questions about self-driving and independent travel in Madagascar.
More questions? Feel free to contact us! Roadtrip Africa is happy to point you in the right direction as you prepare for your adventurous self-drive holiday in Madagascar.