By Richard van Ryneveld
Sometimes I’m tempted to send a message to everyone in my phone’s contact list, and that message would be: “I’m hitting the road, folks! Only contact me by WhatsApp and SMS from today onward, as I might not have signal where I’m going!”
Well, that certainly would be the message if you hit the road with a Kavango like I did. This tough-as-teak, go-anywhere, luxury off-road caravan from the Echo 4×4 stable in Pretoria, has one dreaming of visiting exciting destinations.
Not only is it strong enough for Van Zyl’s Pass in the Kaokoveld, it’s also comfortable, spacious, light and aerodynamic. And to top it all off, it is one of the few off-road caravans on the South African market that fits into a standard garage. There a three variants in the Kavango range: the standard Kavango, the Xtreme, and the Tec.
Tare 1 050 kg / 1 150 kg
GVM 1 500 kg
Width 1 960 mm / 1 980 mm
Length 5 150 mm
Height 1 970 mm
Chassis Galvanised steel
Axle rating 2 500 kg
Suspension 32” 8-leaf springs
Extended axle width
220 V extension cable
Gas bottles and tools ( in nose storage area)
One of the strong selling points of this caravan is the strong C-section 5mm galvanized chassis, which is made by Echo themselves.
The Kavango comes standard with 15-inch steel rims, run-in brakes, skid plate on the A-frame, and a removable jockey wheel.
Absolutely no wood is used in the caravan. The body is made from monocoque sandwich-construction poly-fibreglass, which is insulated to keep you cool in hot African conditions, and warm in the winter months.
All the nuts and bolts used in construction is corrosion-resistant stainless steel.
The Tare of this strong off-road caravan is 1050 kg (the upgraded Tec and Xtreme variants have a Tare of 1 150 kg), and with a GVM (Gross Vehicle Mass) of 1 500 kg, you have almost half a ton payload. You really don’t have to skimp on packing. The Tare of Echo’s caravans are recorded with the water tanks empty, but does include the battery pack, Jerry cans, grocery box and spare wheel.
The Kavango is a four-berth camper. The main bed is queen-sized, and folds out over the nose-cone. The A-shape support for the fold-out section is permanently mounted on the outside, and secures onto the A-frame. Canvas sides have flaps that can zip open, and mosquito netting.
For a couple using only the main bed, the interior area can also be set up as a dinette. If the kids or grandkids come along, the dinette table folds down to convert to another comfortable double bed. There’s a large storage area under the dinette area.
The roof of the Kavango is not a full pop-up, but has hinges at the back and thus only lifts at the front (above the main bed). The roof, which is also insulated, is easy to lift thanks to gas-struts.
The Kavango features several unique designs, one of which is the innovative bathroom with full shower, situated near the front of the caravan on the driver’s side. The standard Kavango has two shower options: A slide-out unit with solid, moulded-fibreglass shower floor, or a hinged shower cupboard with tent cubicle. The slide-out shower comes with a removable canvas roof. The top of the roof is made of strong see-thru plastic, and offers the option of an open or closed roof whilst showering. The bathroom has a solid moulded washbasin.
The Kavango Xtreme and Tec comes with a full slide-out bathroom with shower, toilet and fold-out washbasin. There was a simple set of adjustable legs that provided stability for the hard floor of the slide-out shower.
The Kavango is fitted with plenty of storage compartments inside, and for the main interior cupboard, you can choose between having shelves or not.
It has no wood or metal components inside or outside; everything inside is made of moulded fibreglass.
The entrance door to the Kavango is on the passenger side, just in front of the caravan’s wheels. To the left of the door (towards the tow hitch and nose cone) is a large hatch behind which is the fridge on a slider that allows one access from outside. The fridge/freezer is also accessible from inside via a top hatch.
An aluminium frame clips simply onto the sliding rail, onto which fits your washing up basin plus a large plastic drying rack. There are hot and cold water taps for your washing up and cooking (the Kavango has a 120liter water tank). The taps fold away when not in use.
This kitchen design is what Echo calls the MK2, while the Xtreme and Tec models come with the MK3, which is a two-plate gas stove, washbasin, dry rack and a drawer.
Next to the fridge hatch, right up at the front of the caravan, is another storage compartment. It’s quite roomy. There is another one of the “grocery boxes” on the other side.
To the right of the entrance door is the large fold-down kitchen hatch. There is a large storage area behind the fold down hatch, and on the right side of the work surface is a two-burner gas stove (with non-MK2 kitchen units only). This is great for all your tins of food, cereals etc. Next to the storage area is cups, plates and glasses for six people. The crockery all fits snugly into laser cut strong solid sponge cut-outs.
Underneath the hatch is a large removable stainless steel table. There is also a flap that opens up for the electricity supply to the Kavango.
On the driver’s side of the caravan there’s a large window at the rear of the Kavango. This window can be opened from the dinette area. The next large door/hatch to the front is the shower.
The two jerry cans have been mounted to the back allowing for an additional grocery box in the front. The spare wheel is also mounted on the back.
The standard front tent / kitchen awning on the Kavango is made from 400gram military spec two tone Ripstop canvas. Rear and side walls are optional extras