The idea of living on the inside of a tree is something that many of us will only ever hear about in fairy tales or novels. But in Southern Africa and Madagascar, there is a tree that grows so large it allows people to do just that. The Boabab tree can grow to 11 m in diameter, the length of an average truck, and has been known to reach heights greater than a 10-story building. That’s definitely big enough to live in!
Why is it called the tree of life?
To many African people, the tree covers the basic needs. It is hollow on the inside like a cave, allowing people to build rooms inside. The bark is fire resistant, the fruit is rich in Vitamin C and the trunk can store up to 30 000 gallons of water. Recently, people have transformed the trees into shops or bars (see below).
Why is it a money maker?
In the West, the tree has become a cash cow as it makes over a billion dollars per year through its medicinal value. In Senegal, the sale of Baobab trees has boosted the economy. The leaves are powdered and sold to medical institutes and to restaurants across the African continent for various dishes.
Where can you see them?
You can visit the Baobab Alley in the Menabe region of Western Madagascar. The Baobab has survived the deforestation in Menabe over the years due to the respect the people have for this tree. The best place to see them is the “Hollywood Boulevard” of giant trees, which received a nomination for the Seven Wonders of the World. The second place to see it is in Southern Africa in countries like Botswana, Namibia, South Africa and Zimbabwe. Walk through these beautiful trees and stand in the middle of the second largest Baobab in the world – the “Chapman’s Baobab” of Botswana. Both the Boabab Alley and Chapman’s Baobab can be visited on the Jenman African Safari tours.
Above: People walking through Baobab Alley found on the Morondava Baobab Package (left). A woman standing in the centre of Chapman’s Baobab found on the Botswana Lodge Explorer (right).