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Off-Road Caravan Review: Echo Kavango

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Words and photos by Mark Samuel

Echo 4×4 Centre boasts one of the most comprehensive ranges of capable off-road towable products. At the top of the range is the Kavango, the company’s flagship all-terrain caravan. We towed it, camped with it, slept in it – and were definitely impressed by it.

You’ve made the decision to buy an off-road caravan. I’m guessing you’re completely new to caravaning and off-roading simply appeals to you, or maybe you’re changing over from a conventional on-road caravan to an all-terrain version, or possibly you’re making the change from an off-road trailer to an off-road caravan.

Wherever you’re coming from, you’ve now reached the stage where you need to choose which off-road caravan model to buy. Judging by its popularity, the Echo Kavango is going to be one of your prime contenders, specifically in the four-berth class. We recently put one of these models through some rigorous testing and fieldwork; what we experienced will hopefully help you with your decision.

Nitty-gritty

Echo KavangoOur test arena was Gonarezhou in Zimbabwe, which we explored a few months ago. When I wrote about that trip, I touched on the Kavango’s features; here I’ll delve a little deeper into what makes this tough Echo product tick.

Willie Grobler, owner and main brain behind the proud Echo 4×4 brand, created the Kavango as his flagship off-road caravan. There are several capable off-road towables in his fleet, from off-road trailers to quad trailers, and from luggage camping trailers to off-road and gravel-roader caravans, but at the pinnacle sits the Kavango. It’s similar in many ways to the Namib, its slightly more compact sibling; the Namib sleeps two while the Kavango sleeps four, and there are a few other design and layout differences.

To start, let’s highlight what makes the Kavango stand out from the crowd. First off, you’ll notice that the bodywork is manufactured from lightweight but tough-as-nails fibreglass. This gives the caravan a relatively light dry weight or tare – 1050 kg, to be exact, with the water tanks empty but including the battery pack, jerrycans, grocery box and spare wheel. Items like this should always be factored into the tare figure.

The all-important gross vehicle mass (GVM) is 1500 kg. This is what the authorities care about when they pull you over and check if your towing combination is legal. I harp on about this constantly: the GVM of your braked caravan may not exceed the tare of your towcar, and these days the GVM should also be less than the maximum towing capacity the manufacturer sets for your vehicle. The special thing about a figure of 1500 kg is that it makes towing the Kavango with the Toyota Hilux, Land Cruiser 76 or Fortuner, and a few other prominent players in the off-road towcar sector, completely legal and safe…

To read the full article, order a copy of the November 2011 issue of Caravan & Outdoor Life.

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