Along a stretch of the dirt road that leads from Morondava to Belo Tsiribihina in Madagascar stand rows of baobab trees, their stout trunks glowing and fading as the sun passes overhead. This is the Avenue of the Baobabs, one of the more striking spots for appreciating the Adansonia grandidieri species endemic to the island nation.
Hundreds of years old and standing up to 98 feet tall, the baobabs along the avenue look like trees that have been uprooted and re-planted upside-down. Their branches, which only sprout from the very top of the trunk, are adorned with flat clusters of leaves that catch the light at sunset. Dusk and dawn are the best times to visit—the view of the dark baobabs against the shifting pastel hues of the sky is magical.
Adansonia grandidieri has been classified as an endangered species since 1998. But it's not just the baobab that's in trouble. Madagascar's biodiverse forests in general are under threat—the Malagasy economy's reliance on agriculture, logging, and mining has led to aggressive deforestation throughout the island. Conservation efforts are under way.