On my way to the famous Avenue of Baobabs, I was chatting to my guide about the numerous taxi-brousse that were buzzing around the town of Morondava on the west coast of Madagascar, ferrying people around all hours of the day and night and a lifeline for many.

Always one for an adventure, I asked my guide if I could try one for a short tour. “Not so good idea” he said and then told me how his last journey ended up with the taxi-brousse he was in smashing into a mango tree. I asked what happened and he just said “the brakes were not so good.”

I decided against this and carried on with my excellent driver called Man (a shortened version of his full name Herman which amused my guide no end as he declared loudly “he’s the Man!” every time the driver performed a nifty manoeuvre avoiding chickens in the road.)

On arrival at the Avenue of Baobabs itself, I was suitably impressed with the towering, alien plants looming above us and was lucky enough to get some great shots at sunset. Despite the popularity of the place, seeing those iconic trees for the first time is fantastic and makes you realise how exotic Madagascar really is. Combine this with the endless, bright green rice paddies in the surrounding fields and you have an intoxicating mix of Asia and Africa that makes the country so unique.

As the sun set and the cluster of tourists thinned, I had the place pretty much to myself so my guide and I slowly walked the length of the avenue, watching the small village nearby settle down for the night. Fires were lit; straggling goats were herded back home and people returned from the fields for food. Dusk changed to night and as the stars came out, the baobabs looked even more impressive against the night sky. I heard an approaching taxi-brousse, and with my guide’s story still fresh in my mind, I stepped gingerly out of the way before the baobabs disappeared in a cloud of dust and we headed back to the car.