CAR­A­VAN TEST

If you’re look­ing for a light­weight yet sturdy off-road car­a­van for two, the Bateleur is for you.

Go! Camp & Drive - - Contents - Text and pho­tos Leon Botha

An­chor it

Be­cause the Bateleur is so ba­sic, it doesn’t re­quire jack cor­ner stead­ies, but on ev­ery cor­ner there is a round cor­ner steady that you lower and then tighten when it reaches the ground, en­sur­ing the trailer will be rock steady. Use the jockey wheel’s han­dle and ad­just the height of the cou­pler un­til the trailer is level. By the way, there’s a small spirit level on the cou­pler where you can see when the trailer is level as you turn the han­dle. As soon as the trailer is in line, you lower the nose by about 5 cm, loosen the two rear cor­ner stead­ies, and lower them to the ground. Tighten them and lift the nose about 2–3 cm higher than the spirit level. Now lower the front cor­ner stead­ies and tighten them, then lastly turn the jockey wheel to the orig­i­nal level. De­pend­ing on how firm the ground is be­neath the trailer, it should rest firmly on the cor­ner stead­ies.

Ge­orge na­tive Hannes Uys is known for the off-road trail­ers he builds in his home town, but now he has launched his first off-road car­a­van. The new car­a­van has the same genes as his trail­ers, but the chas­sis and frame­work are made of steel and cladded with alu­minium sheets. The Bateleur off-road car­a­van can hardly be any sim­pler. It’s re­ally noth­ing more than a square box on wheels. But Hannes out­did him­self with the de­sign. A dou­ble bed folds out of the right-hand side panel, and the out­side kitchen cov­ers the en­tire left-hand side. On the A-frame is a mas­sive nosecone, and as with so many new car­a­vans, the door is at the back. We hitched the Bateleur and trav­elled for 1 500 km through the West­ern Cape, camp­ing along the way. >

Bed, bath and be­yond

Both side pan­els – left and right – cre­ate a big door that folds flat and forms the kitchen and the sleep­ing area re­spec­tively. Hannes uses re­frig­er­ated truck lock mech­a­nisms on the doors. It’s one of the best ways to keep an off-road trailer’s doors du­s­tand wa­ter­proof. Be­fore fold­ing out the bed, you have to thread the loose fly sheet in to the alu­minium ex­tru­sion near the roof and then swing the bed base 90 de­grees down to the ground (once the bed is folded out you won’t be able to reach). Be­sides the fact that the base of the bed hangs on two 5 mm stain­less steel ca­bles, there’s a loose ad­justable leg for both the two cor­ners to make things a bit stur­dier. A springloaded steel rod fits onto each edge and the mid­dle ridge of the bed. This stretches the fly sheet as well as the can­vas over the bed. The folded-down kitchen counter is ex­tra large for a car­a­van of this size (193 x 61 cm). Even though the twoplate stove is mounted onto the right-hand side, there’s still more than enough space to op­er­ate. The shiny counter doesn’t have raised edges and is easy to clean. The space for the cut­lery, crock­ery and food is be­hind the counter in the body of the car­a­van. The camp­ing fridge is far left and the draw­ers and shelves take up the rest of the space. The space for the fridge (on a slid­ing frame) is big enough for a 40–50 ℓ model, and the four draw­ers in the mid­dle are big enough for larger pots and pans. Far right, be­hind the stove, is an open shelf or two for fresh fruit, as well as a socket for your ket­tle or toaster. The draw­ers and slid­ing frame open up over the work sur­face, which means you have to take out what you need be­fore you start cook­ing or you’ll find your­self rum­mag­ing through the draw­ers with flour-cov­ered hands in search of a rolling pin.

BATELEUR OFF-ROAD CAR­A­VAN

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