Just over a year ago Mr B asked me if I’d give up our plans to take our honeymoon this year and take his parents on holiday instead.
In the lottery of life I’ve been incredibly lucky to end up with the in-laws that I have. They are kind, thoughtful, never interfere and have been supportive ever since Mr B decided to take a chance and move abroad despite missing him like crazy. Like most expats we tend to get home every two years or so and when you do, you’re acutely aware of the passage of time and parents slowing down. Since he was in college, Mr B has harboured a dream to take his dad on safari and his mum to the desert.*
This year, to celebrate the inspiring 50 years of happy marriage of his parents, we made it happen.
Namibia is vast, about 80% desert and a population of only 1.8 million, making it the second least-populated country in the world. It gained independence from South Africa in 1990, making it a young adult in global terms and with 1 in 3 unemployed it still has serious challenges ahead.
From Windhoek, we drove south for almost seven hours to the Namib Desert through the stark landscape to see the huge, glorious, red dunes for ourselves. Driving in Africa is not for the faint-hearted. Unless you have training in 4-wheel drives and experience, it is best to hire a local guide. We’d been lucky enough to get accommodation inside the national park itself and I’d recommend this. It means you can start morning drives very early and get into good positions with great light to see the sun rise. If you’re aspiring photographers like we are, this is unbeatable. If you want to take photos of the incredible night-sky in the national park, be aware that you will need to gain permission from the government in Windhoek (all national parks are under satellite surveillance!) This is easiest to arrange via a guide.
As well as the dunes and incredible salt pans, there’s an astounding variety of wildlife in the Namib: from meerkats, to ostriches, jackals and bat-eared foxes, orxys, fog-basking beetles, sociable weaver birds with their enormous nests and desert giraffes. Again, a well-trained guide is brilliant at helping you spot things that would normally pass you by.
Another must-do for the anniversary trip was a hot air balloon trip. Sailing above the desert with views for miles is unforgettable, well worth the expense and the ridiculously early start.
The bottom line is that my in-laws had a blast, despite the long flights, early starts and long drives. They’ve been married for ten times longer than we have, which is humbling given I often feel like a Remedial Wife. It’s truly inspiring to see how they still work as a team and still love to experience new places together. Being an expat means you miss out on so many events and aspects in the lives of your loved ones. Being able to share our love of travel over a couple of weeks was priceless, as was getting to know my in-laws even better. I’m so lucky my mother-in-law loves the planning stage of travel as much as I do! Namibia is truly beautiful and our trip to the desert only scratched the surface. We’ll definitely be back.
*Incidentally, his treatment of his mum and his friends is one of the things I love most about Mr B. His working seriously hard to turn a dream for his parents into a reality is just one of the things that makes him awesome. And for the record my mother-in-law believes that eldest + youngest kids are the best marriage combination. Result!