Route Nationale 8,Madagascar
Route Nationale 8 is a Madagascar state road that is almost 125 miles long, characterized by a red
dirt path connecting Melondara to Bekopaga. The road is lined with as many as 300 century-old
Baobab specimens, majestic giants 30 meters high and 3 in diameter, forty of which are lined up
like guardians on a landscape that is as isolated and hostile as it is unique and fascinating.
This stretch of road, known as Avenue des Baobab is certainly one of the island's most iconic locations, so much so that in 2007 these millennial trees were declared "Natural Monument" by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature. This due recognition serves a practical purpose as the Baobabs are trees that grow in isolation and it is not uncommon to find such a large number grouped together, all neatly arranged on the sides of the road.
Most of these baobabs, belonging to the Adansonia grandidieri species endemic to Madagascar, can live over 500 years and each is capable of holding up to 300 liters of water. Aside from these plants having extraordinary natural properties their fibers are also used as building materials for water reserves to collect rain water for us in times of drought. The pulp of its fruits and leaves are rich in proteins and minerals and are used in herbal teas and as precious natural remedies. Another interesting characteristic of these trees is that it does not reproduce through pollination of birds and insects, but instead thanks to small mammals such as nocturnal lemurs and bats.
Many believe the baobabs are considered sacred and cutting then down is considered a sacrilege. It is the undisputed symbol of the unique biodiversity of Madagascar, six of the eight species existing in the world. Unfortunately, the Adansonia perrieri, besides being one of the rarest trees on the planet, is also the most endangered species due to the massive deforestation practices in the area. The best time to visit this place of incredible charm is from May to November, especially at dawn and dusk when the reddish colors of the sky offer an incredible backdrop to the majestic forms of these road giants.
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