When you think of traveling to Madagascar, you will probably think of lemurs (King Julian in Madagascar the movie) or about the iconic Madagascar Baobabs at sunset! Am I right? Visiting the ‘Avenue of the Baobabs’ is therefore the number one reason to travel to Morondava in West Madagascar. In this Madagascar travel blog you can read everything about one of the most famous tourist attractions in Madagascar: the Baobab trees of Madagascar. In summer 2019 travel photographer Kim Paffen traveled to Morondava and took absolutely epic pictures and decided to share all her Madagascar Baobab tips with you in this article.
For Traveltomtom she already wrote a complete Morondava travel guide including 7 things to do including the best Morondava beaches and where to stay. Also check out her North Madagascar travel tips or the ultimate Madagascar itinerary for 2 weeks.
As an avid Africa wildlife photographer Kim Paffen photography also traveled to Uganda for Traveltomtom. Her Uganda itinerary article is full of amazing pictures and you should not miss all her tips for Gorilla Trekking in Uganda either.
1. Where are the Baobabs in Madagascar
Although you will find many baobas trees across the country the famous avenue of the baobabs in Madagascar can be found 40 minutes Northeast of Morondova. You can easily find a taxi in Morondova for $15-$20 return trip. Or rent a car if you plan to visit the Madagascar Baobabs multiple times.
2. How to get to Morondova
The best way to travel to Morondova is by a domestic flight from Antananarivo. You can take a shaed taxi from Antananrivo but that will take at least about 12 hours and if you are unlucky even much longer. One of my friends did it lately and his Instagram stories were hilarious to watch, but I would totally recommend you to take a 45-minutes flight. Read all my Morondava travel tips in this link.
3. There are 7 different Madagascar Baobab trees
Morondava and the iconic Baobab tree are inextricably linked. You can find 7 out of 8 species of Baobab trees in the world in Madagascar and 6 of them are endemic to Madagascar. The Menabe region, including Morondava, is home to 3 of these endemic species. At the famous avenue there’s a group of about 25 huge Grandidier’s baobabs lining the sandy avenue along the Highway 8 (RN8) between Morondava and Belon’i Tsiribihina, located 45 minutes from Nosy Kely.
4. Adansonia Grandidieiri is the famous Madagascar Baobab
The most famous Baobab tree of Madagascar, the Adansonia Grandidieiri, can’t be found in any other part of our planet! They can reach 30 meters high and develop a trunk with a diameter of 3 meters. In the past, these Baobabs, whose roots seem to grow into the sky, were part of a dense forest. Nowadays these ‘upside down trees’ are a legacy of the dense tropical forests that once thrived on Madagascar.
5. Visiting the avenue of the baobabs Madagascar is free
Sadly the trees are still threatened by deforestation and encroaching paddy fields. Therefore the area is declared as a natural monument under conservation, but they still don’t ask tourists to pay a visitor fee.
6. Please support the local economy
There is a very small visitor centre and some market stalls with handcrafts. Local residents only receive little income from tourism. To support the local community I would recommend buying wooden baobab sculptures or other handcrafts directly at the avenue; it’s also the cheapest place to buy Baobab souvenirs.
7. New Madagascar Baobabs are planted
Near the avenue they are also planting and growing tiny new baobabs; new life is great! Although it takes hundreds and thousands of years to become one of these massive baobabs, it’s a good thing for the future to preserve these monumental trees.
This iconic landmark was on my travel and photography bucket list for quite some time. I visited the avenue on three different times of the day: before sunrise, during daytime and at sunset.
8. Sunset at Avenue of the Baobabs
My first glimpse of Allée des Baobabs was just before sunset and I was speechless; I stopped and stared. No wonder it’s the most photographed spot in Madagascar! I found these trees so impressive that it was hard to focus on photographing the Baobab Avenue.
When you plan to visit Avenue of the Madagascar Baobabs during sunset, make sure to depart in time. Sunset is without a doubt the most popular time to visit the avenue of the Baobabs for tourists and therefore the most busy part of the day!
When we arrived, tourists were gathering at the beginning of the alley and at the ‘viewpoint’ from where you can see the baobabs lined up along the street. From there you will have a great view of the sun slowly setting behind these massive trees. I decided not to stay at only one spot and moved around a bit to photograph from different angles.
The colours of the sky rapidly changed into beautiful yellow/orange colours of the setting sun. The image below is one of my favourite images of the sunset on Allée des Baobabs.
What makes this photo special to me is the African woman with her child walking through the rays of light along the dusty Avenue of the Baobab, to get a good impression of how tiny we are compared to these massive Baobabs that are up to 800 to (in theory) 2000 years old and 30 meters high.
The Madagascar Baobabs are my favourite trees in the world; locally known as ‘Renala’, which means ‘Mother of the forest’. Watching the sunset at the Avenue of the Baobab was absolutely one of the highlights of my entire trip to Madagascar.
9. Stargaze at Allée des Baobabs
Set your alarm very early, hop in the car and drive straight to Baobab Alley before the first light will touch the horizon. If you arrive in the very dark you will have some time to watch a sky full of twinkling stars and take some photos of the Milky Way above the Baobabs.
Our alarm went off at 3 o’clock in the morning and we drove to the alley at 3.30 am. We were the first ones to arrive before other cars entered the avenue. I loved those few minutes with nobody else around.
10. Sunrise at Avenue of the Baobabs
At dawn more tourists arrived to watch the sunrise at Allée des Baobabs, but luckily it wasn’t that busy as during sunset.
It’s well worth it to watch the sunrise at Avenue of the Baobabs, even after seeing the sunset! You will see different colours in the sky and the sun rises from another angle. It’s definitely worth the effort of getting out of bed very early.
11. Visit the Avenue during daytime
Baobab alley is not just a tourist attraction; it’s also an important road along the RN8 that is used by locals to transport goods from Morondava to the outer villages and vice versa. When you visit the avenue during the day you will most likely spot no other tourists!
Instead you will meet many friendly locals passing through the Avenue. There’s a lot of action and it’s nice to watch the zebu cart and local people using the road for their daily activities.
We walked along the avenue for about 500 meters and we only came across two other tourists at the start of the avenue, near the visitor centre. If you have enough time I would recommend visiting the avenue during daytime as well, because it will be a totally different experience from watching sunset and sunrise.
After visiting Baobab Alley on three different times of the day I still feel I didn’t have enough time to get the perfect pictures because time went super fast on the avenue. Anyway, I was happy to cross Avenue of the Baobabs in Madagascar off my bucket list and I hope to visit Baobab Avenue again in the future, when I come back to explore other parts like Andringitra National Park and the Fianarantsoa Cote Est train ride to Manakara.
12. The best time to visit Avenue of the Baobabs?
If you don’t have enough time to visit the avenue of the Baobabs on three different times of the day, I would say sunset! Yes, it’s the most crowded part of the day and there will be many tourists but watching the sun set behind these massive trees is priceless! Arrive early to find a good spot to enjoy the sunset. The viewpoint of the Madagascar Baobabs is easy to find.
If you want to photograph the Milky Way but don’t have time to go back in the early morning, I would advice you to stay after sunset, until it’s dark enough to photograph the stars. Most tourists will leave right after sunset and there’s a fair chance of having the avenue completely to yourself. Don’t forget to ask one of the staff members to turn off the lights that light up the Baobabs. They are very friendly and Im sure they will do it for you.
If you made it to Morondava and visit the Kirindy Forest Reserve you will see the alley during daylight anyway, since you will cross the dusty road on your way.
13. Find the twisted Baobabs in Love
Not far from Avenue of the Baobabs (about 7km) you will find two special baobabs that are ‘in love’. The Baobabs in Love, also known as ‘Baobab de Amoureux’, have become twisted to each other as they grew, like two lovers.
14. Other things to do around Morondava
In my article about the best things to do in Morondova I of course mention the Morondava beaches, but for an amazing cultural experience visit the Betania fishing village and see how the locals live. Learn about their way of living and sustaining and interact with the amazingly friendly locals.
15. Where to stay in Morondava
Don’t stay in the the town itself but opt for accommodation in Morondava beach not far from the town. In my Morondava things to do article you can read all about the hotel I stayed at and which company I used for traveling around.
I hope all the above avenue of the baobabs Madagascar tips were helpful for your upcoming trip to Morondava. Please help me in return by sharing the link of this article on Twitter or Facebook or pin one of the many amazing photos on Pinterest.
For more Madagascar travel inspiration check out the best things to do in Nosy Be, a complete North Madagascar travel tips, all the things to do in Morondava or check out the Ultimate Madagascar Travel Blog with a 2-week itinerary.
Enjoy your Madagascar trip.