Avenue des Baobabs
Soaring 30 metres into the sky, the baobab trees which cluster around the narrow dusty road at the Avenue des Baobabs are a spectacular sight. With huge water-storing trunks, crooked branches and melon-sized furry fruits, the Baobabs are the most distinctive tree in the world and a symbol of pride for local people, holding great spiritual significance and inspiring many fairy-tale stories.
Madagascar is the best place in the world to see the Baobabs and particularly iconic is the Avenue des Baobabs, found in the western province of Menabe. The trees here belong to the tallest baobab species in the world (known locally as Renala, ‘Mother of the forest’) and provide a beautiful spectacle at twilight, when their grand silhouettes are set against the warming colours of an African sunset.
To enjoy the flowering period of these fantastic trees, visit between February and March. This dry deciduous forest is arguably the best place to witness the endangered giant jumping rat and other nocturnal Malagasy wildlife, such as the Fosa, a vicious predator of lemurs which grows up to 2m long, and the flat-tailed tortoise. Of course, the ever-popular lemur is another common inhabitant of the Kirindy forest and many species may be spotted on an exciting night stroll through the region.
Also in this Western region of Madagascar is the UNESCO World Heritage mineral forest of Tsingy de Bemaraha. This fairly new National Park has astonishingly rich flora and fauna but is most renowned for its tsingy – large, sharp pinnacles of limestone reaching up to 150m in height! Between the labryrinth of limestone needles, discover untouched forest with picturesque gorges, waterfalls, and mangrove swamps. And pocketed between the humid canyons are tropical areas of rainforest home to 11 species of Lemur, more than 100 species of bird, and 45 species of reptiles and amphibians.
Due to its true wilderness location, the park is only accessible during the dry season, from April to November.