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These Majestic Baobabs Are Straight Out Of Disney

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Photo: DEA / C.DANI / I.JESKE/De Agostini/Getty Images.
It looks cartoon! Is that a real place!?
It actually is. In fact, it’s one of the most-visited sites in Madagascar. Some of the trees are up to 800 years old and 30 metres tall.

But I’m pretty sure I’ve seen it in a Disney film?
You have, in the film Madagascar! Though we promise, it does actually exist. Oh, and if you’re familiar with the general shape of the tree, maybe that’s because The Tree of Life in The Lion King was a baobab tree, too.

Where is it?
The Avenue of the Baobabs is a dusty, dirt road connecting a small hamlet on the Tsiribihina River to Morondava, the region’s largest town. The stretch between the two towns is about 100 kilometres, which takes about four hours to travel as Madagascar’s roads are so bad. Big, statuesque baobab trees line either side, which are what make it so special.

Any particularly standout trees?
Actually, yes. The "baobab amoureux" are two baobab trees twisted around each other, like they’re hugging. It’s pretty special. A lot of young women and local lovers come here to pray for a child. There was controversy a few years back when it was discovered both trees were male. Local anti-gay campaigners kicked off and demanded the trees be separated, though it never happened.

Tell me more about these baobabs.
Baobab trees are native to Madagascar, with six of all eight species found here on the island, and the other two on the African continent. They’re sometimes called "upside-down" trees. Legend has it that when God created baobab trees, they kept running away, so he planted them upside down. Others say that they were once the most beautiful trees on Earth, with lush foliage and flowers, but they boasted of their beauty so much that God decided to turn them upside down, hiding their canopy forever.

When’s the best time to visit?
It’s impressive all year round. Go at sunset for that picture-perfect experience.
Photo: Anthony Asael/Art in All of Us.
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