"worst holiday ever"
Hired motorhome from Apollo for 13 days, with highest level of liability co...
Last updated: 4th May 2021
Cheapa Campa caters to different Australian cities and towns, from Broome to Perth to Sydney and everything in between. Though there were changes in their fleet, they still offer almost the same set of cost-effective campers that are designed for families up to 6. One prominent update to their fleet is the approval of pets inside their vehicles. Yep, so if you want to travel around the country with your furry friend, this is a great option. Continue reading to know more about Cheapa Campa Australia, its fleet, insurance options, and overall reputation.
Cheapa Campa Australia is part of the Apollo campervan family, hence the similarity of their vehicles. Ahh, who are we kidding, their vehicles are identical―except for the age! Being under the same company, you pick the unit up from the same depot location.
From the technical specifications to some useful driving insights, check out this video before renting a Cheapa Campa unit.
So, what’s the go here? Cheapa Campa focuses on vehicles that are well-designed and young(ish). They have a campervan or motorhome to suit just about any budget or travelling party size. And they even have depots in lots of locations. So, yes, Cheapa Campa and Apollo are pretty much the same. The main difference? Age. When they are brand new, they are Apollo. When they are a few years old, they are moved to the Cheapa Campa brand. Well, on VERY close inspection, you will notice a few little niceties supplied in the vehicle are different between the 2 brands. Apollo will include a personal kit such as towel, sheet, pillow, etc., where Cheapa Campa will not and there are few minor other inclusions in the insurance dept.
But the main difference is the wear and tear. After 2-3 years of regular use, the campervans can become a little worn. Once they are no longer up to the Apollo brand standard, they are passed to Cheapa―hence the name. Still, Cheapa is part of one of the most popular RV companies in the world. And it has grown a lot since inception in 1985 and the Apollo group have more vehicles on the road than any other company in Australia. Furthermore, they claim to offer quality campers at a cheaper price and friendly service.
Cheapa Campa has a smaller fleet than Apollo as only some are passed down. Well, hi-top roofs spring to mind. Every one of their vehicles is a hi-top, meaning ability to stand upright in the back. This might not sound all that fantastic initially, but after a few hours of having to bend over in a vehicle, you will notice the luxury of being able to stand upright. The “budget” campervan companies bypass this expensive addition to vehicles, which helps keeps their prices down, but also means you have to keep your head down. Cheapa Campa has spent the extra dollars on their vehicles and ability to stand upright in the vehicle is assured in all models. So, if you're eyeing for added comfort without breaking the bank, this might be a good option for you.
Other items to note about Cheapa Campa is that all models come with a fridge, the ability to cook inside, are manual gear (stick shift). Plus, they have a selection of diesel and petrol models. If heading to the outback, then you will definitely want a diesel. But if you are just sticking to coast roads, well, it really won’t matter.
This is a stock standard Hiace based hi-top campervan. There is nothing particularly special about this campervan that plenty of competitors don't have. Cutlery, crockery, pots pans, maps, etc. are included, though you have to pay extra per person for bedding. It has a fridge, which not EVERY competitor will have so that is a bit of a bonus. But there is little else that sets this campervan apart from others. No child seats allowed. The upstairs single bed is rated for only 50kg; hence, you can only put a child up there. What makes this campervan attractive is simply that it is part of the Cheapa Campa brand and that it is likely to be only 3-5 years old. Compared to many competitors, this kind of camper will be much older.
Cheapa Campa 2Berth Show Through
Built on the much bigger Ford Transit or similar VW model, this is the "luxury" camper for a couple. With internal walk-through access from front to back, shower, toilet and internal cooking, this camper is much better suited to long-haul travel. The toilet and shower mean you have much better options for free camping rather than caravan parks. Plus, the large interior makes the campervan feel much more like home. It has a larger fridge than the Hitop, as well as a 3 burner stove. However, I am never that impressed with 3 burner stovetops as they are so jammed together you can't fit 3 pots on at a time anyway! But the toilet, shower and much larger space make this campervan a much more enjoyable experience for a 2 berth.
If you want a cheaper 4 berth, good thing Cheapa Campa offers a family-friendly camper—Endeavour. This camper is a breeze to drive and park. Plus, you can choose whether an automatic or manual transmission. Built on a Toyota Hiace, you can expect for a more decent interior height that allows standing up inside. This unit is unlike most campers because it oozes with space and functionality. During the daytime, the interior is very spacious. And of course, it is well-equipped with kitchen, seating areas, and double beds. At night, the living room offers two sleeping options—top double bed and bottom double bed. Featuring a side door entry, this lets you access the camper with ease.
This is the first model you want to go to if you are travelling as a family rather than a couple. A smaller double bed on the ground level and a larger one above the driver cabin is how the bed system plays out but the downstairs bed is table and chairs during the day. This is a pass-down of the Apollo Euro Camper and is a very liveable motorhome. Toilet and shower mean you are less reliant on caravan parks for facilities and I think there is plenty of room in there for 4 peeps. You can expect it to be around 3-5 years old, hence older and therefore cheaper than the Apollo version. That being said, there might be a little bit of wear and tear. As a general rule, don't expect this motorhome (or any from Cheapa Campa) to be absolutely perfect inside. 3 years of rentals can take its toll on interiors so if you approach it. Knowing that you are not in a 5-star hotel room, then you will probably have reality better match your expectations.
Cheapa Campa 6berth Show Through
My last hire of the Cheapa Campa 6 berth was quite pleasant. Whilst there was wear and tear you would come to expect of a 3-year-old motorhome, overall it was a great trip. The layout of the 6 berth is pretty common―a permanent bed above the driver and 2 dining stations that become beds at night. As with all motorhomes this size, there's a toilet, shower, air-con, microwave, electric water pump, and 3 burner gas stove. I took out the extras package, so there was also sheets, pillows, camp chairs, a table, and all the things you could want. There were some leaks in the window when it rained, but that was kind of dependent on the angle the motorhome was parked at and what side the water ran off.
To give some direct examples of the kind of wear and tear you could expect, the rear cushions were a bit tatty. There was plenty of white gaffer tape on the rear of the camper, covering up where other people had put minor dings in it reversing. It pulled a little to the left when driving and one drawer didn't latch properly and would come open on corners. The awning support arm had trouble staying fully extended but it stayed up in general and it was still useable and used a lot. On the bright side, the motorhome was easy to drive and it was very clean on the pick. It was the cheapest 4 or 6 berth motorhome out of Cairns on the dates I wanted―yes even some 4 berths were costing more! So, it was a no-brainer and was well worth the money. Recommended.
The Cheapa 4WD Camper is perfect for off-road adventurers on a budget. It is built on the 'unbreakable' Toyota Hilux ute with a "tortoiseshell" home on the back. You can't walk through from driver cabin to the back―well, you can't do that in any 4wd campervan. The pre-built 'drop-on' shell living area allows for more space that converting a 4wd directly will achieve. Henceforth, when it comes to 4x4 comfy living, this model is probably better. Probably, the only downside of this design is weight. This model is going to be back-heavy and the Hilux, whilst being a great workhorse 4x4 vehicle is not specifically built to do long haul 4wd, more for getting tradesmen into quarry like work sites. So, in term of serious off-roading, the Trailfinder model is probably better. However, if you are just wanting to head to outback Australia and be confident that you will not get stuck on any of the dirt and sand roads, this model will be fine. Plus, it will be slightly cozier at the same time.
If you are looking at really going on ANY road in Australia (within the Terms and Conditions of Cheapa Campa), then this model is for you. Built on the most reliable vehicle in the country, the Toyota Landcruiser Troop Carrier, this campervan will get you where you want to go. This is the model of car that locals buy who live in the harshest parts of the country. I personally love this vehicle. I can live in one. I did already actually―for a year! Not luxurious, not sleek, not quite but a great lot of fun. This is an ADVENTURE vehicle. Get this and get lost! It has all the things you need to live with like gas burner, cutlery, crockery, fridge, water tank, bench space, and comfy place to sleep but nothing you don't need and no fluff. The only thing missing is not part of the fixed attachments but what Cheapa Campa does not seem to supply that others often do. And that is the recovery equipment. Whilst this campervan can go almost anywhere, it can still get stuck, or is often the case, you come across someone ELSE who is stuck and needs some help. I would like to see some basics like a shovel, a snatch strap with D-shackles and a distress beacon for peace of mind. That notwithstanding, this is a great campervan for a true Australian outback or bush adventure. Without a doubt, this one is highly recommended.
Insurance rates depend on the rented unit as well as your preferred coverage. Here are their updated liability reduction options as of this writing:
Low road at $0
For Hitop and Endeavour, the standard liability and security bond is $3,500. All other 2wd come with $5,000 while 4wd vehicles has a $8,000 bond and liability.
For Hitop and Endeavour, you can reduce the bond and liability to $1,500 by paying $22/day. It's $32/day for all other 2WD vehicles with bond and liability up to $2,500. Lastly, you have to pay $41/ day for 4wd vehicles for a bond and liability of $2,500.
For a stress-free adventure, this is a great option. If you're renting either the Hitop or Endevour, you just need to pay an extra $29/ day to limit the bond to $250 and the liability to $0. For all other 2wd campers, it's $39/day with $250 bond and $0 liability. For the 4wd, you have to allocated $47/day to reduce both your bond and liability to $500 each.
Whilst Cheapa Campa might be a little cheaper compared to their Apollo brothers, they are not necessarily the cheapest in the market. There is definitely cheaper campervan hire out there if you want to shop around. The Apollo family’s budget range is Hippie Campers, so if money (or lack of it) is your driving factor then Hippie is where you want to look. However, if you are looking to get some luxuries but are willing to cut out some trimmings, then Cheapa Campa should be on your radar. Their vehicle age and some unique inclusions make them a nice option. Though one word of advice, despite having a multitude of vehicles in their fleet, Cheapa Campa does book out often. At peak times. it books out extremely early. So, if you think this brand of campervans might be for you, then you are advised to book as early as you can. However, there are plenty of other campervan companies to choose from if you can’t get a Cheapa Campa.
Cheapa Campa tells us you can have the same holiday―just a little Cheapa. They stress the bargain element of their large fleet size and selection of campervans. They are proud of being one of the largest privately-owned motorhome rental companies in the world with depots across Australia and beyond.
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Hired motorhome from Apollo for 13 days, with highest level of liability cover.
Our motorhome leaked rainwater from the roof from a total of three different locations. The passenger seat was soaked the whole trip making travelling difficult and electrical items unable to be left in fear of damage. The last night rain water started pouring onto us sleeping, soaking us and the bed. We had to wake every few hours to empty a bucket in the van, ultimately leaving us in an uninhabitable motorhome which we had to return, ending our holiday early.
Contacted customer service from Apollo team who told us “all motorhomes are checked before departure; however, you don’t know there is a leak until it rains." As you can imagine we were confused as to why it does not rain in the Apollo car park.
Midway through our trip, a rock on the road shattered our window. We were confident after paying the highest level of liability cover the issue would be dealt with in a timely and safe manner. Unfortunately, we were given unsafe advice by 'Apollo Assist' who made us drive for over an hour with no window and wait for over 6 hours for a sheet of plastic to be glued onto the van.
In addition to this both driver’s and passenger’s seatbelts intermittently were unable to absorb energy, restrict passengers or retract the belt. We were left travelling in a motorhome which was unroadworthy and a serious safety risk.
To conclude, this was the worst holiday we have ever had with an uninhabitable van that was unsafe to drive.
Told by 'RV Experience Manager' the seatbelt issue would be 'raised with our Melbourne staff', an attitude I find highly concerning given functioning seatbelt are a legal requirement. We were informed the motorhomes go through a pre rental inspection and scheduled maintenance. I cannot see how this is true given the numerous faults with the van. We were only offered a 3 day refund, for a ruined holiday which we had to end early.
I have done multiple trips in motorhomes and have always had a brilliant time. I have been disappointed not only by the motorhome quality in Apollo but also by the appalling customer service and disregard for customer satisfaction and safety.
I would never use or recommend this company after our experience. For anyone wishing to have an enjoyable holiday I suggest using Cruisin Motohomes which are fantastic.
The best camper we have ever hired. In fantastic condition, great features. Very friendly and relaxed staff at the depot. Would definitely recommend them to anyone.
Did surprisingly well off-road
For the price you can't go wrong. I did Sydney to Cairns in a Cheap Hightop and had all the essentials in the vehicle. A microwave, fridge, gas cooker and double bed. That's all you need
We rented one of your 2bearth vans last weekend the vehicle was great ,
its all the extra charges that you don't know about and they don"t tell you until you
pick it up was a extra $236.00 more what a rip off. Never again will be telling our friends and
family never to rent one of these.
We - a couple 68/69 years old - rented a Cheapa 4WD campervan (Toyota Hitop) for 3 weeks in feb 2017 travelling from Perth to Adelaide. We are returning customers with Apollo and Cheapa, also having rented from Britz, Maui and several others. Having read many comments, here is my advise for future rentals and our experience with Cheapa this time.
1. Many users complain about additional costs when collecting the vehicle and unforeseen additions. Yes, they may try to convince you that you really need all these extras and additional insurance-options (which are ridiculously overpriced: to further reduce your liability you will pay 25% of the risk!). And yes, they do charge for everything extra. And yes, you will know that in advance if you care to read their terms and conditions, rental agreement and the information on their website. Nobody will force you to buy additional cover or services on the spot. We didn't, apart from a 140 AUD cover for tires, windscreen and towing assistance which we found useful and worth the money.
2. If you wish to avoid paying creditcard fees, book through one of the many intermediary companies: we paid our rental costs - on request - by bank transfer. Unfortunately when collecting the vehicle you can only pay your bond - in our case 5000 AUD - by creditcard; however this procedure is followed by all major rental companies. Cheapa charges a 2% non-refundable (!) handling fee over this bond which is very customer-unfriendly. Again, we knew this in advance and we took this additional payment of 100 AUD into account when calculating the total rental costs. You should do the same (with Cheapa).
3. Our bond was refunded two days after car return.
Rental experience and advise:
1. Inventory of these Cheapa campers is poor. It seems they do not wish to spend one dollar more than needed. No camping gear but standard cheap and breakable household items. Don't break a glass when camping in the bush because you will have to share the remaining one for some time. Incomplete and non matching items. Two knives so blunt you cannot cut butter with it. Washing line was a short piece of thin and frayed rope, Etcetera, This is a weak point with all rental companies but certainly with Cheapa. Advise: bring items such as sharp knives and be prepared to shop for some items such as small boxes, wineglasses and a simple coffee perculator. It's no major thing, just be prepared.
2. The vehicle exterior was reasonably clean, inside it was reasonably dirty. Floor is ok but when you open a cupboard to refill the water container, put on some plastic gloves because it has never been cleaned. Yak. So be prepared and don't expect too much. Problem is, when you collect the vehicle, are you going to refuse it because it's not too clean? You want to be on your way, don't you...
3. When explaining the vehicle functions (our staff member in Perth was very friendly and certainly helpful), they do not use a check list. Result: things are forgotten. Advise: don't rush this and ask all the questions you need. Make your own checklist in advance! They will take the time for you, but only if you ask for it.
4. Pre-check of these vehicles is poor and I do not think they use checklists, but rely mainly on customer comments. Strong advise: check everything and have all main items demonstrated. You will no doubt find some defects or missing items. Check the spare wheel, you may need it! Make sure there is a jack. Check the vehicle tools (there were some essentials missing!) We asked to demonstrate the awning and it appeared it was broken on one end, which was invisible from the outside. You dont't want to find out when camping the next day. Battery meter was not working. The popup roof was very hard to pull down at the front (we had to live with that). On previous occasions we had broken chairs, a defective table etc. etc. You get the point.
5. Don't rent chairs for 20 AUD or more, but visit Bunnings on your first day and buy camping chairs for 7 AUD. Much cheaper and you get new stuff. We also bought a step-up and some buckets. Useful. Leave the chairs on your last camping.
6. Don't ask for a Cheapa welcome package. We did, but it failed to make us feel welcome. Two small coffee and tea strips and a dishwashing fluid sample. No cleaning towels, even matches were not included.
7. When renting an Apollo/Cheapa 4WD camper, don't expect any recovery tools. This is basically very strange, because in a 4WD you may be bogged down. The only item was a (way too small) folding shovel. We brought our own compressor - you will need it when on sandy tracks! Good point: they did provide an emergency GPS beacon.
8. A basic medical kit was thrown in, which is certainly helpful if you fail to bring your own. However they may not tell you that opening the kit will cost you!
8. Before you go, take pictures of your vehicle, especially from the outside, and make sure you date/time stamp the pictures. This also serves as a reminder that you adjust your date/time settings. In case of damage-claims when returning the vehicle this will save you al lot of trouble (unless you really did cause the damage of course).
Problems when travelling:
When renting a cheaper vehicle, which is usually a bit older, chances of problems and break downs are obviously a bit higher. If you don't want to run the risk, go for Britz and pay a lot more. That being said, the rental should be reliable. in this respect we did not have problems with Cheapa, our vehicle was in good mechanical condition and we did not have any problems apart from a not too good windscreen wiper. When you need something repaired or replaced when travelling, in our experience they will be accommodating (though not always very knowledgable).
Yes, we did have a very nice vacation!
The vehicle was fine apart from one or two minor niggles, the worst of which was a non-functioning CD player. However I was very disappointed with Cheaper Campa/Apollo's requirement that I buy a $2700 insurance bond using my credit card with a 2% surcharge that applies even for debit cards. I chose them largely on the basis of the price and calculate that this opaque extra charge has added 11% to my bill. I have rented vehicles around the world for nearly 40 years and have never had this experience before. Even if it is really necessary to buy such a bond, which they justified by saying that "customers have cancelled their credit cards so that they are protected against deductions for damage", then why can't you pay either in cash or by electronic banking transfer in advance? I will not be using them again and would warn others to check the total expected cost before making a booking.
TV did not work due to issues with the antenna
due to issues with engine, max speed limited to app 50 KM/hr during the last 200 KM
welcome pack not issued
We were given the wrong model that we booked (an "upgrade")
returned early because of breakdowns and were given no aplogies, or refund for returning early.
My partner and I were on our honeymoon, and this left a sour taste in our mouth. We will tell everyone we every meet thinking about hiring a camper van to avoid Star/Apollo/Cheapa like the plague.
First and only time... Staff horrible from onset, unhelpful!! And the hidden charges are a nightmare! Don't bother paying for better insurance cover options you end up paying anyway! If you want to travel buy a cheap van or jeep!!
Just be mindful Apollo trades under different names but still the same terrible company, misleading and a waste of money!! Never again!!
I definitely DO NOT recommend Cheapa. They are part of Apollo for a start, although they advertise as a separate company. This seems misleading from the outset. The whole concept is a rip-off, because you have to pay for every single item such as bedding. Imagine going to a hotel and having to pay for bedding! Bu you are there to pick up your van and they have you over a barrel. What an annoying start. The staff are too rushed and don't take time. I think they need more staff but they are probably trying to save money there. The van was not clean and everything seemed worn and old. Not a nice feeling. The toilet didn't work and we didn't notice until we were too far away. Calls for assistance were largely ignored and the people on the phone did not seem to have a solution to offer. Steer clear of this company, go elsewhere. The whole thing leaves a really bad taste and is not what a holiday should be about. ihatecheapacampa.com
Stay away from Cheapa camper!
Making a few bucks on all the little things you need , like extra driver $40, credit card use <$100 for 2 weeks rental etc.
the van we got had 247K on the clock but was just under 5 years old, very noisy, auto transmission worn out and sometimes took awhile to get into any gear . However it ran ok and did not let us down. First evening I was made aware that one headlight did not work . Did I drive away from Depo with only one light??
The light bulb was incorrectly fitted .
Still have not received my security deposit yet, after 5 days .
When I asked I was told it may take to 15 days depending on your Bank ( visa via ANZ). Funny that, only took one day to get it out
Expect no luxuries like BBQ tongs or a plastic wine glass, you have to buy your own tea towels if you want to dry your dishes etc. In short - go elsewhere to hire.
DO NOT, repeat DO NOT hire your van from this company. The hidden charges are an absolute rip-off! It will leave you feeling bitter and ruin your holiday, as happened to me using Cheapa Campas.
I cannot stress enough to avoid this company, there are much better options available.
Hired a motorhome in Adelaide and dropped it back to Perth.
Purpose of the trip was to play in the Annual Chasing the Sun Tournament on the Nullarbor Links Golf Course.
Was a Cheapa unit; no problems, clean. and practical for a pair of seniors.
WOULD HAVE TO COMPLIMENT THE APOLLO STAFF AT BOTH THE ADELAIDE AND PERTH DEPOTS FOR JOBS WELL DONE.
Would recommend Apollo.
When I picked up the motorhome there were many faults. The van was dirty including dirty cutlery and crockery. The cutlery drawer was broken, the shower did not work, one of the gas rings on the hob did not work, the toilet did not flush, the dining table was broken. They forgot to give me sheets and the baby seat I had booked. They apologised for the dirty van and the lack of booked equipment. They gave some new cutlery, extra sheets and fixed the table for free but could not replace the van or fix the other broken things. It took 4 hours before I eventually got away from the depot and my wife and two small children were extremely tired waiting for me. I was advised to phone in a few days to see if they could arrange a replacement campervan. I phoned several times and they never returned my calls despite me leaving messages. Each time I phoned, the people who had dealt with me were never available and the person I spoke to could not help me but told me they would phone me back. They never did. The brakes on the camper van were also very weak. I reported this to the company. When I returned the vehicle I explained all the problems and gave all of the information you read here. The representative shrugged his shoulders and had nothing to say by way of explanation. Not even an apology! I feel they should not be renting out this vehicle as it is in breech of the description of goods as advertised. They said they didn’t have another vehicle to offer as they were so busy.
We rented a 4D camper van for about a month. The camper van was just perfect for our purposes, an extended trip to the Outback. The cooking facilities are great, and A/C is an added bonus.
The problems started after returning the camper van. After 2 weeks we got an email from Apollo, that there’s a traffic infringement and Apollo will charge 100 dollar admin fee for that, which they will refund provided e prove the infringement is not valid. My credit card was promptly charged by Apollo. After a lot of hassle with Eastlink, we got email from them confirming that the infringement was invalid since we had a valid Melbourne Pass on the alleged day of the traffic infringement. That done, I sent the confirmation to Apollo and expected to have the refund swifty paid, given that I had already had to spent hours of my holiday sorting out a mess that was not even our fault. It has been now 6 weeks and I still have not been refunded by Apollo, basically we have been ripped off by Apollo and thanks to them our honeymoon in Australia has a bitter stain.
I wanted to share this experience so you will be aware what to expect from them.
Great price-quality value, camper was 100% o.k!
Although it was a little bit of an older van, that’s fine with us -since they are really cheap- we didn’t had any troubles with it at all.
We had a great time on our trip and the camper was pretty comfortable and well equipped.
Cheapa Campa? crapa campa would be a better name. we got 400kms into a planned 2000km journey when the camper we rented had a major engine failure caused by lack of long term servicing according the the RACV man who came out. we were then told by chepa campa that it would take them 5 days to replace the van and whatever we did until then was down to us. once we agreed that we had no choice but to cancel our trip cheapa said they’d refund us all but our 1/2 days use we had out of the camper at about $90, instead they kept over $400. AVOID these shysters like the plauge and also I’d avoid APOLLO too as it the same company under a different name.
Prices are reasonable, but they charge you a lot for the insurance- i.e. if you only want the standard insurance you still have to pay credit card fees & transaction fees etc. quite a few hidden costs.