Our beautiful country and climate has so much to offer and you can experience it on a smaller budget with all the modern facilities and comforts to suit your particular needs. One way to do this is investigate the many options of adapted caravans and motorhomes. Seeing that my last article on this subject was a few years ago, we decided to revisit this sector and found that a couple of our readers have been busy with some interesting projects.

Tony Breytenbach recently retired from SAPS and, although he lives in Durban and owns a holiday home in Cape Town, he has decided that to start touring around our country and neighbouring areas and so has had a custom-made motorhome fitted out for his specific needs. He supplied the Mercedes 518 Sprinter chassis and 3.0l V6 Turbo Diesel engine to AC Motorhomes in Cape Town, who custom build all their vehicles from the chassis up.

Hein Visser - MD and designer at AC Motorhomes - worked on supplying custom features according to Tony’s height and specific parameters.. The access door, situated at the back of the vehicle was made to a wider spec than standard and was fitted with a fold down ramp which is operated with an electric winch. The driver and passenger seats swivel to allow Tony to transfer into the driver’s seat and then turn around to drive, after locking into place. The wet room has been widened and contains a roll-in shower, toilet and basin. Hein also built an outside kitchen to fit Tony’s height and reach ranges, as well as a small kitchenette inside.They fitted rear cameras for easier reversing and installed Satellite TV.

Tony took delivery of his new motorhome in August 2012 and is planning to visit Namibia and Zimbabwe this year. 

Gerry and Hilda Grundy were intrepid caravanners, and after Gerry became disabled in a botched hijacking, they thought that their caravanning days were over. However, looking for a new challenge Gerry decided that he would look into converting a caravan and contacted Neville and Karen De Meillon - owners of Sherpa Leisure Edenvale. They offer lightweight fibreglass compact options called the Tiny & Tiny Rough Roader (4x4 version) weighing 410kg and 465kg, which means that they can be towed by any vehicle. He owns a Subaru Outback with a roof hoist for his standard wheelchair.

Sherpa Leisure only had to make one or two adaptions. They added a removable section to a fixed bed and a grab bar to enable Gerry to get on and off. In addition, a microwave and fridge were added and tie downs fitted into the back area to store his 4x4 wheelchair in transit. Because the Tiny has a large rear door – all Gerry had to do was to have detachable ramps made, which are stored under the caravan for access into the interior. The fitted kitchen tent at the back of the caravan has a wider door so that it can lead onto the standard shower tent (this can be bought at any outdoor supplier) which sits next to the kitchen tent. The shower water is heated by a gas water heater. As Gerry and Hilda have travelled all over the world, he already has a special lightweight portable commode that he takes with him. This ensures that Gerry will have no problems using any caravan, or campsite which may not have accessible ablution facilities. Gerry has also just purchased a 4X4 Rough Rider wheelchair which will give him the independence that he needs in the great outdoors! He will be taking delivery of his new Sherpa Tiny in February and he cannot wait to start exploring. 

Mathys Roets needed an accessible caravan whilst filming the Kyknet series “Kamp Dit Uit.” Jurgens – sponsors of the show - sponsored one of their mobile custom units which they use for mobile offices or clinics. Mathys contacted Buks Viljoen from Die Beeld to assist, and he suggested Hannes Delport from Nelspruit Campworld & Caravans as he had already converted caravans for Buks and Chris Roux. Just out of rehab, it was difficult for Mathys to travel back and forth form Pretoria to Nelspruit, so once the design had been finalised, Hannes travelled to Pretoria to bring various adaptions and products for Mathys to choose from.

Hannes used features from Jurgens, Gypsey and Sprite for the interior and kitchen. The specific features that Mathys chose were - a wider door, the biggest bed possible and an air-conditioner (which he uses to warm the room before getting up). He also chose to have the main kitchen situated on the outside, with just a microwave and some cupboards that open both on the inside and outside. The bathroom is a bit small so there is a bench seat for the toilet which enables the user to shower whilst sitting on the closed toilet seat, and reach the basin at the same time. The biggest challenge Mathys had was getting into the caravan. He purchased two 3m telescopic ramps from Jessen Dakile, but the gradient was too steep for him to be able to push up at the time as he was only six months out of rehab. He is much stronger now and has worked out how to place the caravan so as to minimise the gradient.

Now Mathys is thinking about converting to an off road option as he spends a lot of time in the bush! 

Happy Travels!