There are lots of great places to visit in Madagascar, but this sacred tree is probably one of the most impacting of my whole trip in the country! Especially if you love nature as I do, you want to find out more!
Madagascar is an incredible place with a lot of endemic species. In the case of the Banyan tree I am talking about in this article, it’s going beyond that aspect! It’s not only immense, but it’s also sacred.
As I visited my family in the south of Madagascar, everybody was telling me we needed to go to the Miary Tree. I wondered what was so special about a tree, but when I talked to the locals and then saw the magnificent sight, it made sense!
Where to find the sacred tree?
Miary is a village situated less than 10 kilometers away from Toliara, in the south-east of the island.
Be prepared for a bit of a bumpy road although it’s not the worst one and you don’t need a 4×4 in this case. Any taxi can bring you but don’t expect to be there in 10 minutes. We have to drive very slowly with those road conditions.
When you arrive, it’s on the right-hand side by the road.
As soon as you enter the site, you feel it’s a holy place for locals.
A lady will welcome you and ask you to remove your shoes.
Although I was a bit reluctant at first, I realized it was actually very nice to walk on the sand!
When is the best time to visit Miary Banyan Tree?
As a general rule in Madagascar, it is recommended to not drive anymore at night. When we went in May, the sun was already down at 17h45.
So we arrived in Miary at around 4 pm, which was perfect because it was not that hot anymore and we arrived before the closure at 5 pm.
Honestly, when I was checking the news about Toliara and Madagascar in general, I got a bit scared… However, if you follow those rules, there is really nothing to worry about! If you think Madagascar is dangerous, try to go to Brazil at night and you will see! It’s much worse! Most beautiful places on this Earth are not safe at night, let’s face it! So just take your precautions and you will be fine! I even had to cross Toliara several times at night and I simply locked all the doors of the car and everything was fine.
And if you don’t know me, I am the kind of person who gets easily worried!
The sacred tree and its legend
The Miary tree does not look like a tree but more like a small forest due to its branches growing towards the ground and expanding from there.
It’s very impressive to see.
I have heard some variations of the legend but what locals usually say is that the closeby river was a threat to the village. It was going to flood it and would be a catastrophe as a lot of people were living there.
In order to save the village and its people, the king consulted with the priests what could be done and they said that a young virgin girl should be sacrificed together with a young boy, and a banyan leaf.
As a result, the river went on the other side and the village was safe again. Miary actually means deviation in Malagasy.
After a while, a tree started growing and it is said that it is the reincarnation of the boy and the girl who keep looking after the village.
Visitors are not allowed to touch or cut the tree as it is believed that it is sacred. It could be considered as a fady as we say in Madagascar.
Keeping the legend alive: when everyone believes in it!
The lady who is taking care of the visit showed us the sap coming out of the tree. According to her, it was red because it is the reincarnated children’s blood.
She also mentioned that the tree can make one’s prayers come true, and then she explained where to stand for the prayer to be received.
Some people even give money as a way to thank the tree for their prayers.
You can even find the legend mentioned on the Tourist office page dedicated to Miary.
People in Madagascar are very religious and superstitious about a lot of things so you really need to respect that.
Locals even say that a Comorian man cut a branch of the tree and then his kid died. After a while, he died as well. People even say that this story was in the news.
The atmosphere there is very special. It’s very quiet as most people come to pray.
Even the guide is explaining everything in a very smooth way.
When I came to Madagascar, I did not expect to see that kind of trees. I was more thinking of baobab trees and coconut trees. But this one is not just a tree. Even if you don’t believe in the legend, you feel the harmony of the place, and it’s very inspiring!
There are also some wooden benches where you can sit and pray so it gives you even more reasons to take your time and experience the place!
If you have some more time to spend in Miary
I would recommend to also spend some time in the village.
The people are very nice and they grow a lot of local products.
You can do your food shopping and you will get real quality!
Organic food here is quite normal. It’s the opposite what’s strange, as it’s supposed to be!
Here they grow products like cassava, corn, sugarcane, and sweet potatoes.
You will actually come across a lot of zebus carriages on your way. Villagers are also selling their goods in the city of Toliara.
Why do I think Miary Banyan Tree is one of the best places to visit in Madagascar South region?
Miary is definitely one of Toliara highlights, a visit not to be missed! For me, it was one of my favourite places to visit in Madagascar for sure, even if most rough guides don’t talk about it.
If you want to go off the beaten tracks of the usual tourists, enjoy the wonders of nature, and are looking for some peace and quiet, Miary is definitely the place for you!
It is also a great option if you want to stay in Toliara one day, and look for something not far to visit for the rest of your day.
And you? Have you ever been to Madagascar? What was your most impacting experience?
Or maybe you are planning to go there? What would you like to find out about the island? I am actually planning to write a lot more about this destination in the future so let me know!
I look forward to your comments and do not hesitate to share this story on your favourite social media channel!