(This post is a re-print of an article that appeared on Mimi’s personal blog in January, 2015.)
After our Whew! episode of nearly buying the house in Morro Bay, we decided that the best of both worlds would be to by buy a camping trailer. We can park the trailer in Morro Bay for a month or two and live there – or we can park it in a variety of locations, and we are not locked into Morro Bay. We briefly considered a combination vehicle and trailer, but decided it would be a real pain to drive a vehicle/trailer combo everywhere we go once we are settled into a camping spot. Much nicer, we think, to leave the camper parked while we go places in a smaller car.
So began long sessions of Click! Click! Click! While searching,we came upon the Alto Safari camping trailers made by Safari Condo of Quebec, Canada. After initially thinking we could not buy one in the US, we found that for the past two years or so, the trailers are indeed approved for US export. We continued our research, a bit hard to come by, as there are only a few over 500 trailers out there at this time. And of those, a handful are in the US. It helped to go to Google Canada to search and we did find some discussions which mostly involved happy Alto owners, along with a few issues to consider. When we contacted the factory by email, they sent us the specs and some additional links to some articles on the product.
The Alto is one of the more expensive small trailers we looked at, but it is a lot cheaper than the luxurious, but also very heavy, Airstream. It is also the absolute lightest to tow –by far. After finding it, we tried really hard to find another we liked as well, to no avail. (And unfortunately for the Canadians, their dollar is weak right now.) This little trailer has huge appeal. Love, love, love the windows! and the decor does NOT look like it’s modeled after a 1970’s cheap motel room, like so many other trailers we viewed. And did I mention the windows? I won’t go on with the specs and features, as that information is all readily available on the factory website.
It was easy to want an Alto, but the next decision was which model? The original 1713 model has an impressive, motorized expandable and retractable roof of windows. The 1723 is like the 1713, but includes an insider shower. Beautiful! And the newer model, the 1743, has fixed roof, but has more opening windows living-level windows that include built in screens and blinds. The taller door to this model also has a full screen. Ideally, the way to decide would be to view each model, but we are in the Carribean for the winter – we don’t think anyone has shipped a trailer here! So….back to pictures, imagining living in each and searching for owner testimonials on the web.
We found out that although the factory, and the only dealer we found that carries the product, CanAm RV in London, Ontario, listed Summer, 2015 as delivery date, it is actually now up to December, 2015 for delivery. (As of July, 2015 these dates are of course different.) The factory rep was kind enough to let us know that the production spots for 2016 trailers were nearly full, and that a price increase would be in effect soon due to cost increases of supplies and the weakness of their currency.
We liked the retractable roof, first for looks and total WOW! appeal, and the light it lets in. The upper windows do not open, and as a result, there are fewer lower windows,and fewer windows that open. This model is significantly more expensive due to the motorized mechanism involved. It also does not come standard with an indoor shower, or the large window (pictured above), The upgraded 1723 model comes with a shower, but not the big window (there is an option to add the window, of course further increasing the cost.) There is a big, black curtain that you have to pull around the trailer at night to cover the windows. Or you could lower the roof, but then that means a lot of lowering and raising of the roof. (And we have since found out that lowering the roof is not possible while keeping the bed size as it should be. More about what else we found out in the next post.)
Confused and indecisive, we found some helpful information in a forum discussion from a person who went to Quebec and walked through both models. He had originally ordered a 1723, but changed the order to the 1743 , citing a more spacious feel to it, the lower placement of the windows, more windows that open, the blinds and screens that are built in to the windows and a nicer bathroom. These are some of the points were have been considering. Windows are important to us. We don’t want to feel closed in, especially when camped with a scenic view.
We put a down payment on the Alto Safari 1743. See some of the stock pictures below. We are buying it through the CanAm Rv dealer rather than directly through the factory because they still had a 2016 to sell, with an October build date and a December delivery date. It is also much preferable for us to pick up the trailer in Ontario than Quebec. And that being said, we have been assured that until our Alto goes in to production,we can change our mind about model and any options.
We are only including a few options, having decided that we don’t need a microwave. We ordered the red decor option,with pear woodwork (a medium gray color), the automatic fan, battery, and the option to run the appliances on 12 volt. We plan to use a small, ceramic heater when needed, and figure out our own, portable water heater. (Bob will post more about how we adapt the trailer in future posts.) And pretty much everything else is included already.