Niall Hampton
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WE DECIDE OUR theme today will be off-road touring so we return to the show ready for some rugged action.

Geoff Bass tries out the latest Honda compact=WE DECIDE OUR theme today will be off-road touring so we return to the show ready for some rugged action.

 

However, we can’t resist first checking out new luxury make Morelo. My guess is that they are a bit like Concordes. We visit the stand early to avoid the crowds and ask for a guided tour.

 

General 2Imagine our surprise to be greeted by International Sales Manager Andreas Wolfer-Heimann, previously of Carthago and Concorde, who demonstrated a Carthago to us eight years ago. We ordered one and still run it!

 

Andreas recently left Concorde along with a couple of directors and Morelo was born. We remembered him as a passionate motorcaravanner with an obsession for perfection so we are very interested to see the impressive detail of this stunning new brand.

 

Sadly their smallest model weighs in a little too large and expensive for our needs, not to mention a tad over budget. We contemplate selling the house and living in the ’van but pull ourselves together, revived by free fruit cocktails served up at the VW California stand. Back to the matter in hand…

 

Inspired by the travels of our friends in the Silk Road Motorcaravan Club, we are seriously considering overland travel across Africa and Asia when we are free to do so, and for this we would benefit from a rugged, self-sufficient vehicle with four-wheel drive.

 

General 3In the main halls we check out one of the main off-the-peg brands, Bimobil, whose 4x4 offerings come on Mercedes or Iveco bases. Action Mobil and Hartmann models are also on show in the outside forecourts, and we are shown around Unicat’s largest off-road camper by Thomas Waas and his wife. The couple loved their experience as customers so much that Thomas joined the company as business partner. They are still travelling and living the dream.

 

The five-year-old model we saw weighs 26 tonnes and is built on a 40-tonne chassis, allowing a capability to survive for at least three weeks without filling up on water or fuel. With five bedrooms and for sale at €1,000,000, it serves as an extreme example of self-sufficiency!

 

General 4Back in the halls we find ourselves interested in more modestly sized four-wheel-drive campers with more ‘conventional’ interiors. Maurer Starliners ooze quality and personalised specification if you can afford one (they’re hand-built to order) and VW Bus Reisen by Terracamper seem like go-anywhere rugged little things – their promotional photos are stunning and it is hard not to picture yourselves fording streams in Iceland or making light of rocky tracks in South Albania at sunset!

 

Later, over a beer, we will reflect on the choice of such off-road vehicles. It is clear that we will need to carefully research where and how we’ll want to tour in order to make an appropriate choice. We come to the conclusion that it should never be about the vehicle first in motorcaravanning, and never more so if planning to tour off the beaten track in exotic locations.

 

General 5Before we leave the show we check out the accessories hall. Small equipment doesn’t feature strongly at the show, but we enjoy catching up with the latest in electric bikes and Geoff tried out the latest compact Honda motorbike for size – better than a monkey bike and small enough not to eat into your payload too much.

 

Overall, we have enjoyed Caravan Salon 2013. It’s hectic but impressive and we’d recommend a visit to anyone seriously seeking a new Continental motorhome (there are very few British makes represented), or just keen to visit for the hell of it.

 

It certainly proved a fascinating way to kick off an autumn tour of Germany and maybe when we can better see the landscape ahead we’ll be back to make a final choice of what motorhome to buy next.

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