Text: GG van Rooyen Photographs: GG van Rooyen and TravelStar “Talk about leisure wheels, these are real leisure wheels,” says Geert Jurgens as he discusses his company’s creations. “When it comes to our products, the sky’s the limit. We can offer customers anything they want.” Looking at the vehicles being constructed around us, it’s difficult to disagree. TravelStar makes motorhomes. And the vehicles they produce are very impressive. No expense has been spared. Geert is showing us the company’s factory in Knysna. Workers are busy measuring, cutting, hammering and polishing feverishly around us. Each vehicle they’re building is unique, made to the owner’s specifications. “Through our design studio, each client decides how his or her vehicle will look and what it will contain. Every aspect of the interior can be customised,” says Geert. He leads us to a motorhome that’s almost ready for delivery. As we inspect the outside, he points to some of its special features. For instance, it has a little drawer that hides a stove and tap. Pulling this out allows you to do your cooking and cleaning outside. Once you’re done, you simply slide it back in and everything disappears very neatly. The vehicle also has a nifty door that consists of two sections — a solid outer door and a netted inner one. The netted door can be closed and locked independently, allowing fresh air to pass through. The inside is equally impressive. As I enter the vehicle, I’m struck by an unexpected level of opulence. While functional, the inside is definitely not austere. The finishes are all of the highest quality. “If you want the same premium taps and appliances that you use at home, we’ll install them for you,” says Geert. “This includes items like dishwashers and glass-top stoves.” In addition, the motorhome has comfort and entertainment features like a satellite dish, several television sets and an air conditioner. In short, this vehicle has everything you have at home. But can it go off-road? It is clear that it’s no longer necessary to sacrifice comfort for the sake of adventure. With a motorhome like this you can cart around all those little luxuries you’ve traditionally been forced to leave behind when you go on a 4×4 holiday. But, despite all this lavishness, one potential problem remains. Motorhomes might be convenient, but they aren’t exactly known for their off-road prowess. They’re perfect for visiting South African caravan parks, but what about those long overland journeys into Africa? Will they be able to cope with the bad roads? According to Geert, they will. TravelStar mostly makes use of Mercedes-Benz vehicles when constructing their motorhomes, particularly the popular Sprinter. And if it’s a 4×4 that you want, they can give you one with all the off-road bells and whistles. They do this with conversion packages from Iglhaut Allrad and Oberaigner — European companies that have been manufacturing, installing and maintaining four-wheel-drive systems for Mercedes-Benz transport vehicles for quite some time. “Our Iglhaut Allrad conversions offer permanent all-wheel-drive through a central transfer case that provides full-time 50:50 power allocation to the front and rear axles. It also has low-range gearing and centre, front and rear diff-locks,” says Geert. “The Oberaigner 4×4 package is substantially cheaper, but offers only centre and rear diff-locks.” If you don’t necessarily need 4×4, but will be taking on dirt and gravel roads, TravelStar also does 4×2 high-rise conversions. Here the vehicle remains rear-wheel-driven, but is given increased ground clearance. A rear diff-lock can also be installed. So with a 4×4 conversion you can go almost anywhere. But what if you want to tackle obstacles that would make Land Cruiser and Defender owners nervous? TravelStar is busy devising a plan. In partnership with Oberaigner in Austria, the company is currently testing a 6×6 Sprinter. That’s right, a six-wheel-drive motorhome is on its way! “The 6×6 Sprinter is currently being tested on difficult terrain all over the world. It will make its debut at the IAA Show in Hanover at the end of September, and will be available late next year,” says Geert. If you believe that bigger is always better, TravelStar also has a Mercedes-Benz Atego 4×4. Not only does it have serious off-road capability, but it also offers a lot of space.