The manufacturers of the Sherpa range of small, tough, fibreglass caravans launched their Rambler model late last year.
The Sherpa range, with its motto of “carrying loads lightly”, is the dream child of Neville de Meillon. Neville and his team initially started out with the Sherpa Tiny, weighing in at only 560kg, and followed it with the Tiny Rough Roader that was only 20 kilograms heavier.
Both variants of the Tiny proved very popular. Easily manoeuvrable, and able to be towed without an EB license by any car on the road, the interesting little van quickly had a big following.
Neville grew up with caravanning in his blood. During a tour of the Sherpa factory, he told me, ‘I have been caravanning since the day I was born. I was the youngest oke to buy a caravan from a place called Sunseekers… I was only 19 years old.’
Neville had bought a Gypsy 4. And I laughed when he added, ‘I towed it with a Cortina XLE – the old 3-litre with a vinyl roof!’
And I laughed when he added, ‘I towed it with a Cortina XLE – the old 3-litre with a vinyl roof!’
It was fascinating talking to Neville: someone who has been caravanning all his life. In fact he named the latest Sherpa after his Dad’s wonderful old Rambler car that he’d used to tow the family caravan for many years.
The new Rambler is a lot heavier than the Tiny, and is a much larger and more spacious gravel-roader caravan. It has a pop-up roof, so that once it’s set up, you have standing room from the front to the back.
I camped with the Rambler for two days, literally on the reed-fringed edge of a dam in the Diamante Caravan Park, just east of Pretoria. I had hitched the caravan to a Hyundai H1, and found it easy and hassle-free to tow.
Setting up the caravan took only five minutes, so it wasn’t long after my arrival that I was sitting outside my ride drinking coffee, and watching a fisherman catch a 2.5kg brown trout literally outside my window.
Sherpa Rambler Images
The whole Sherpa is made of fibreglass, so it’s impervious to wood rot. The same goes for all the cupboards and storage space inside the caravan.
There is not an ounce of wood in a Sherpa, which is probably one of the reasons it sells so well in the Cape and KwaZulu- Natal, where the ocean climate takes its toll on caravans.
All models are equipped with a quality hot-dipped galvanised chassis; and, today, all Sherpa caravans are fitted standard with a braking system.
Inside, the Rambler had very much the feeling of a small cruising yacht. All the cupboards, hatches and cupboard doors are extremely strong and made of fibreglass. I liked the simplicity of the two bunk beds that can easily be made up into a double bed when necessary. The interior is light, roomy and spacious, and has excellent headroom thanks to the pop up roof. There’s a huge rear-window hatch that lets in lots of light.
The Rambler has tons of packing space, but I found the ‘knobs’ on some of the drawers a little small. However, my Sherpa was the original prototype, and the knobs were part of the moulded doors, so I know this is easily fixable. One of the selling points of the Sherpa Leisure range of caravans is their ethos of ‘everything is customisable’, so I am sure that this will be rectified in future models.
All in all, I think the Sherpa Rambler, like its smaller relatives the Sherpa Tiny and the Sherpa Rough Roader, will keep a lot of campers happy in the future.
Sherpa Rambler Information
- Tare: 920kg
- GVM: 1600kg
- Length: 5.4m
- Width: 2.15m
- Ground clearance: 350mm
- Suspension: Rubberide 1600kg axle with shock absorbers
- Price: R188 000 (incl VAT)
Included with the Sherpa
- 220v 100-litre fridge
- Rally canopy (2.7m) with poles, ropes and pegs
- 45 Amp/hr battery and charger
- 4 x Stabiliser jacks/drop down
- Electrical cable (220V – 12 metre length)
- LED lights
- Fire Extinguisher
- Undercarriage spare wheel
- Fold-down cooker/ kitchen hatch
- Wheel spanner, jack spanner and mallet
- Overrun brake system