As André van Helsdingen the designer and builder of the new Destination Wonder caravan explains, “The Wonder is not about camping but about having a holiday in style!” This eight-meter luxury caravan, with its fully independent suspension and twin oversized shock absorbers, is fully capable of taking you on any reasonable gravel road in the country.
Actually, when I fetched the Destination Wonder for my more-than-a-thousand kilometre and 10-day camping trip André said, “Take it on any grond pad you like!” Just in case someone attempts Van Zyl’s Pass with his new Wonder, I thought I had better add the word ‘reasonable’ to his statement.
André van Helsdingen is well known in the boat building industry in Gauteng. He has taken his years of experience into his latest venture of building luxury caravans. Walking around the state-ofthe- art factory he filled me in on his thinking behind the new Destination Wonder. “With my boat building experience I wanted to build a yacht for a round-the-world cruise?” he said with a smile. On planning the building of the boat André continued, “I learnt that there is nothing better for the bulkhead walls than PVC Core material combined with fibreglass.” He went on to explain why he used this material in the new Destination Wonder.
“The advantage of using this material is the fact that the core itself has structural integrity. Not mere space like polystyrene. It also allows the Destination factory to incorporate the caravan’s fibreglass process without needing glue. This leads to lightness and incredible stability of the caravan.” I can attest to this as I ran into gale-force winds near Villiers on the N3. That eightmetre caravan handled like a dream.
The ‘dream’ continues as one becomes acquainted with all the features of this caravan. Let’s start at the front. The nose cone lifts up, providing a huge amount of storage space. The nose cone houses the state-of-the-art Victron inverter, charger, power supply and fuse box. It was only later that André explained the sophistication of the complete Victron system fitted to this caravan. He explained how many caravan parks have 15 amp plugs fitted, due to the high electricity load experienced when their parks are full. With so many things from kettles, TVs, air conditioners and even electric blankets drawing electricity it tends to trip out their power supply. Well, the state-ofthe- art Victron system can be set for different amperage loads. Added to the solar panels and the battery or batteries fitted to the Destination Wonder, the Victron system will handle whatever camping appliance is thrown at it.
Moving around the passenger side of the caravan you’ll find the large, welldesigned, slide-out kitchen. It comes with a Dometic wash basin and a Snappy Chef hot plate. The large drawer below the Snappy Chef houses the crockery. The smaller drawer at the front of the unit is a dedicated cutlery drawer. The largest drawer in the kitchen unit is big enough for all your pots, pans and kitchen goodies.
The next large outside hatch, moving towards the caravan’s entrance door, is for the microwave oven.
On your left, as you step into the Wonder, is a really luxurious bathroom. To the right is the toilet, while on the left is a full-sized shower with a glass door. In the middle of the bathroom is a good sized hand basin, and there is plenty of storage for personal items. To me, the full-sized bathroom could match any upmarket home and is a big selling point for those who like their facilities.
To the left as you move to the front of the caravan is a large workspace for food preparation and a good place for your kettle, juicer or Nespresso machine. Above the workspace is 220V plug with both two-pin, three-pin and a USB port.
Below the workspace are three big drawers and to the right is a two-door cupboard, all providing useable and handy packing space so as to keep the interior of the Wonder neat and tidy.
On the opposite side of the caravan is the dinette, with seating for four people. As is normal, the seat cushions fold down converting this dinette into a relatively large bed for children.
This is a big caravan so expect big packing space in its many cupboards and under-seats stowage.
And, if one of your must-haves is a big fridge, how about this double doored fridge/freezer! Once stocked, you won’t need to go shopping for days! Added to this is the large amount of power points providing access for every type of plug, plus USB points. It’s great. So often one’s scrambling around looking for somewhere to plug in your computer or camera battery charger. You won’t have that worry in the Destination Wonder.
Lastly, one gets to the luxurious and large bedroom with its full walk-around queen-sized bed. Above the bed head is an air conditioning unit. My first night camping was alongside the Klip River in Meyerton. Instead of cooling the caravan down, I warmed it up and slept as warm as toast. Another feature of the bedroom I liked was the availability of packing space, especially lots of hanging space. The very comfortable memory foam mattress was another huge tick on the ‘plus features’ of this caravan.
Perhaps at this juncture I should share with you what I liked about the Wonder. Firstly, for such a large caravan it had impeccable towing characteristics and followed the tow vehicle, an Isuzu MX-U, like it was on rails. As I mentioned earlier, I experienced gale-force winds for quite a stretch in the Free State as I headed towards Vryheid, but had no trouble at all. This is certainly due to the reliability of the trouble-free independent suspension with coil springs on both axles. Each wheel is fitted with dual shock absorbers, adding up to a total of eight shock absorbers for the dual axle caravan.
This sleek, aerodynamic caravan is designed to be driven on gravel back roads. I did take an extemely corrugated road on my journey up to Natal to visit the Blood River Heritage Site. The Destination Wonder took the road a lot better than I did! André van Helsdingen was absolutely correct, one could take his offspring down any dirt road. I had just done it.
Added to the Wonder’s ease of towing and its inherent stability was the simplicity of setting up the caravan. I didn’t put up the awning or the tent because I had enough living space and the weather outside was not an issue.
I often forget how much techno junk us photographers use. Even on the outside of the Wonder there are three power supply points with a weatherproof hinged lid. Each of these points takes three 15-amp plugs. A total of nine power points just on the outside of the caravan.
Then there’s the bathroom. I doubt there’s a lady on the planet who wouldn’t be impressed by it. Close the door and you have the beauty and privacy of your bathroom at home. All-in-all I found the Destination Wonder to be a well-made luxury caravan that can get to places that would otherwise be considered unsuitable for a caravan of this size and comfort. I covered over 1 000km on various road types, and handed it back to the manufacturers suitably impressed.
ADDED EXTRAS AVAILABLE
• self levelling jacks
• anti-sway system
• rearview bluetooth camera
• Thule security handrail