"Of Boababs and Beaches" Morondava by Ramonq

Morondava Travel Guide: 49 reviews and 176 photos

Laid back Madagascar Town

Facing the Mozambican Channel, this Madagascar town is as sleepy as one can be. Along the coast are fishing villages whose lifestyle haven't changed much since time in memoriam. Each early morning, fishermen set off to the sea to earn a living by catching a variety of seafood which the Indian Ocean offers abundantly; and the women sell the harvests in the local market. Most of the people here live in subsistence level daily. Tomorrow is another day, as they say, and nothing much bothers the villagers. The beach of Nosy Kely is the place to observe this reassuring simple pattern of life which starkly reminds you that one can really get by with very little material possessions. In the late afternoon, the men play football on the beach and women go about their daily chores inside their small simple huts. This may be boring for big city dwellers, but boredom leads you to contemplate and momentarily escape from the trappings of fast modern living.

There are a few diversions on the beach of Nosy Kely. This area of Morondava has a few hotels and restaurants for tourists. The one where I stayed even had a fairly fast internet access and satellite television, so time does not necessarily stand still in Morondava. There's even an ATM machine here that actually works! These modern conveniences make Morondava a good place to escape yet still allows you contact with the outside world.

The road to Morondava is not good. Even in the town itself, the streets are full of potholes and when it rains, they turn into big ponds. There are a few taxis here, mainly old 1950's Renault mini-cars, and they struggle to maneuvre around the dusty pot-holed roads in town. There really is nothing much to do in this sweltering agricultural town, except sit under a shade around the make-shift huts in the town market and slowly drink icy Three Horses Beer to watch the locals go about their daily lives. In Morondava, elegant mosques stand harmoniously next to Christian churches, and there seems to be some peaceful coexistence between the two faiths.

People-watching is the visitor's past time here. You'll notice a surprisingly melting pot of humanity in this small town. There are more African faces here than the Asiatic which are more common in the central highlands, as well as hardy Frenchmen who have called this place home. Similar to what I saw in Rangoon, Burma, some of the women in Morondava paint their faces with indigenous cosmetics to protect their skin from the harsh sun. You'll be able to see an entire family sitting in a cart pulled by sturdy ox-like zebus with long horns that almost form into a circle.

The zebu is a family treasure in Madagascar, and every Friday, there is a zebu market just outside town where these animals are traded and sold. Zebu meat is a delicacy here and special dishes are prepared from it during special occasions. Morondava is an agricultural town, and when there is a grand wedding, the town celebrates with a variety of zebu dishes and seafood.

For most outsiders, the trip to Morondava is mainly focused on one thing, the world famous Alley of the Boabab Trees. This is the most photograph place in the whole island of Madagascar and it has become the national icon. Lying around 25 kms inland from the town of Morondava, is an area where these rare boababs thrive. There is a dirt road which is flanked on both sides by tall and erect boababs , hence the namesake. Although there are boababs in mainland Africa, in Madagascar, the species are endemic only to this island and cannot be found elsewhere. The trees are considered sacred by the local Sakatava people that live in this area and every July, the place is a fantastic backdrop for the annual Jama festival which celebrates the regions cultural diversity.

The best time to arrive here is around dusk or dawn when the sun is just sitting on the horizon. The silhouettes of the boabab trees agains the red-orange and even purple background of the sky will forever haunt you memory of this fantastic land of Madagascar!

Pros and Cons
  • Pros:Boababs
  • Cons:Bad Roads
  • In a nutshell:Boababs and Beaches
  • Intro Updated Mar 20, 2010
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Ramonq

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