In 2021 Sophie and I travelled in a little Toyota Hiace Campervan. We hired the camper several months out from Apollo Campers in Alice Springs. This is the first time we have hired a camper van for those wondering.
Now, originally when we were researching a camper for Alice to Uluru and Kata Tjuta (The Olgas) we had found that a 2WD is all that’s required. This saves many hundreds, 4WDs are more like $2000-$3200. There’s generally a few companies to hire these from some of the main ones being Britz and Apollo.
Knowing this we searched for an appropriately sized 2WD camper van. We found Apollo a well known brand in Australia for quality campers also owns Cheapa Campa. So, we figured it couldn’t be as bad as a Wicked or the Travellers Autobarn campers. Those vehicles sometimes hardly even look road worthy and have a bit of a reputation with the backpacker community.
After some research and comparing costs between an Apollo and a Cheaper Campa the cost saving was quite significant. Maybe a couple of hundred. The cost for our Cheapa Campa for 8 days was about $900 or $1200 after paying extra for the reduced insurance premiums – the package we got was the High Road. The High road package (about $50 a day) includes reduced insurance excess to $500 and the inclusion of camp table, chairs, linen and gas. It was a good deal for the reduced peace of mind.
The main difference between and Apollo and a Cheapa Campa seems to be the mileage and age. With a Cheapa Campa you’re likely to get something that’s a little worn out but still entirely usable while with an Apollo – Think of it as being in top notch condition.
So, how is the van? The van we had was great mechanically, a 2015 Toyota Hiace with approx 271 thousand kilometres. Though, after driving on the highway I did notice it badly needed a wheel alignment. So, in feedback to Apollo I’ve advised this would be good to be repaired. They were very receptive to having feedback on the condition of the van – So, don’t worry that they are going to say you’ve caused the damage for things that are clearly wear and tear.
In spite of its age and mileage it had no problems doing the 130km/h speed limits. Though, I didn’t maintain these speeds for long as it burns through the fuel very quickly! So, I recommending sticking between 100 and 110km/h. You also need to take into consideration the wind when driving in a camper as the wind can be enough to flip a van on some of the dessert flats.
The Campa from Apollo was a great way to see the middle of Australia around Uluru and Kata-Tjuta. Accommodation in this area along can work out to be $350 plus a night. While, a camper van provides you with accommodation and a vehicle. It’s by far probably the most affordable way to see the area apart from camping in a tent.
We were able to see all around the Uluru and Kata Tjuta National Park as well as stop by Kings Canyon to complete the Rim Walk.
Well, that’s all that I wanted to share on our experience of hiring a Camper Van for Alice Springs to Uluru. It was a great experience and we may try this again in another part of the NT in future.
Apollo and COVID-19 Policy
So, if you’re close to us you would know that we were meant to be exploring the top-end of the NT as well. But, due to a case of COVID-19 in Darwin and the Katherine region – It meant our travel to this part of the NT was affected by restrictions put in place by our home-state Queensland. Now, usually with Apollo they will happily provide a credit much like an airline. Though, after communicating our situation to Apollo via email I was able to have a refund for our Deposit and full-booking for our top-end vehicle that was an Apollo Trailfinder camper. My main concern is an airline ticket is usually only say $300-$500 while a camper van hire can be several thousand.
Initially, when discussing the possibility of a refund with Apollo it was a no – But, I approached again in writing via email seeking a refund due to the amount being over $3k.
So, I’m very grateful for Apollo working with us on our booking. They seem to do well by their customer.
Hopefully, if you’re reading this you too can have a good experience with Apollo / Cheapa Campa.
COVID-19 Travel Advice – Apollo Campers
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