The African continent is huge, second in size only to Asia, and accounting for around 20% of the Earth’s total land mass. It has an estimated population of a mind-boggling 1,393,676,444 (about 1.4 billion) people and is bisected by the Equator. There are at least 56 recognised African countries, with another five in dispute. More languages are spoken than on any other continent. The largest African country, both in area and population, is Nigeria; the smallest in both is the Seychelles. It is claimed that at any one time, there are more motorhomes visiting Africa than are owned by residents.
The most popular destinations for UK motorhome owners travelling independently are Morocco and South Africa. There are many escorted motorhome tour companies, with itineraries including places as diverse as the Sahara Desert and the Victoria Falls. South Africa has the most residents with motorcaravans (estimated to be around 3000). The Motorhome Club of South Africa is the largest and most influential owners’ organisation on the continent.
It’s disappointing to discover that the most famous manufacturer of motorhomes in Africa is no longer with us. Jurgens first started trading in the Netherlands back in 1938, moving to South Africa in 1952. Pictured is one of its VW Transporter coachbuilts. Many survive, unlike the firm, which was taken over by Ci before entering administration.
Cape Town is a popular tourist destination for motorcaravanners, and home to several campervan converters including Motorhome World – the clue’s in the name! The company is based in four separate but adjacent units for maximum attention to detail at every stage of production. Pictured here is an Extreme on Iveco 4×4.
Brakenfell-based AC Motorhomes was started by Carey Wareham and builds on a variety of base vehicles – in fact on any, within reason! It is the largest bespoke motorhome builder in South Africa. Pictured is an elevating-roof coachbuilt on a Land Rover. The ‘Landy’ has been popular in Africa for well over 70 years.
Schroeder Motorhomes also converts a huge variety of base vehicles at its Jeffreys Bay HQ, including MAN-based ‘desert schooners’ with the very appropriate model name Hercules. Gaining in popularity are panel van conversions such as those pictured below.
Fiat Ducato and Mercedes-Benz Sprinter are currently the most popular, although Ford’s ‘global’ Transit is likely to challenge their position.
Boksburg-based motorhome converter Travelstar (Iveco Daily model pictured) is part of a multifaceted South African leisure group, Tourism Holdings. It has companies covering all aspects of the leisure industry, including owning and running campsites. An early group strategy was to import Britz and Maui hire vehicles from Australia.
We’ve already mentioned that visiting ’vans outnumber those owned by residents in many African countries. FairCar started converting Toyota Hi-Lux pick-ups not as visiting motorhomes, but for visiting motorcaravanners using their Lusaka-based hire fleet. With a high demand to buy models sold out-of-service, it can only be a matter of time before they begin building for retail, as well as for hire.
Africa was awash with British commercial vehicles from the 1960s to the 2000s. Many of these were imported as ‘KD’ (Knock-Down) kits, usually Leyland or Bedford. Pictured below is a tipper truck, in use for half a century!
On occasions, these will carry a ‘caravan’ body resembling a UK timber summer house, clad with feather-edge boarding and mounted on a pallet base. A fork-lift truck is required for mounting and dismounting the body.
Phoenix Renewables was founded in Nigeria by Mustapha Gajibo. His vision was for a manufacturing facility producing 100% electrically powered vehicles, to use the country’s plentiful solar power.
Building them from the wheels up was going to need a huge investment, so he thought of converting existing vehicles. Basic campervan conversions using recycled equipment are expected soon.
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