Figuring out which trailer to buy is a difficult decision for some, and the choice can be made even more challenging if a trailer you’re interested in is hard or impossible for you to see in person, like the Safari Condo Alto.
When trying to pick the right travel trailer, my husband, Justin, and I watched countless videos and scoured endless blogs and fell in love with the Alto, which we found somewhere on the swirling black abyss that is the internet. But because the Alto is made by a family-run Canadian manufacturer, there were no RV dealerships anywhere close to our home in the United States that had models for us to see in person.
So after watching pretty much every YouTube video out there with an Alto trailer in it, we decided to make a kind of crazy leap and buy a used Alto R1723 from a couple who lived clear across the country on blind faith and a love for its endlessly cool design.
Luckily, we absolutely love our Alto trailer and wanted to create a resource for others out there interested in buying an Alto, who, like us, might not have a chance to see it in person. So if that’s you, welcome to my tour of our Safari Condo Alto!
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Table of Contents
- About the Safari Condo Alto Travel Trailer
- Exterior of the Safari Condo Alto R1723
- Interior of the Safari Condo Alto R1723
About the Safari Condo Alto Travel Trailer
- R1713: This was Safari Condo’s first trailer model with a retractable roof, that comfortably sleeps 3.
- R1723: This is the model we have- a popular iteration of the R1713, which includes an interior shower and slightly larger commode (and to accommodate these additions, a slightly smaller bed and more narrow aisle between the front and back of the trailer). If you want to hear more about our experience with this trailer, check out our Safari Condo Alto R1723 trailer review.
- F1743: This model is similar to the R1723, but with a fixed roof that stands 95” from the ground. Without the retractable roof, the R1743 has a larger and fully enclosed bathroom and wardrobe cabinets that take advantage of the permanent vertical space.
- F2114: This is a longer version of the 1743, which offers a larger bed, bathroom, and fridge and additional floor space. Wanna learn more about this model? We actually got to test out this trailer for several months, so you can read our entire Safari Condo Alto F2114 trailer review.
- A2124: This is Safari Condo’s newest model, which, with a frame that comes to a point at the very front, is the most aerodynamic of the Alto family.
- F2414: This model is the most spacious of the Altos, with both a king and a queen bed, a separate toilet and shower area, and even more storage, with the same aerodynamic design as the rest of the Alto family.
All of them are designed with aerodynamics in mind and constructed on a ultra-lite aluminum frame. For example, all of the 17-foot models clock in at under 2,000 pounds (this weight does not include any of the added upgrades or extra weight, like fresh water or luggage, that you might add). The lightweight nature of these trailers is AWESOME- you can get decent fuel economy while towing (relatively speaking, anyway) and it opens up a whole array of tow vehicles (think mid-size SUVs with 2,500-pound-plus towing capacities), as compared to heavier trailers, where your towing options are almost exclusively heavy duty trucks.
To provide a little bit more background on our particular Alto teardrop trailer, we actually originally placed an order directly with Get-Away RV, a dealership located in Abbotsford, British Columbia, for a new R1723 in late 2020 (if you’re interested in hearing more about the buying process, you can read more about our buying experience and how much we spent on our trailer), but, given the long waiting time (at the time we placed our order, it was 15 months), opted to snap up a used Safari Condo Alto for sale that we found on Facebook (note: finding a used Safari Condo Alto for sale is rare and when they do pop up from time to time, they usually sell, sight unseen, within hours or even minutes).
This used Alto camper has SO many more added upgrades than the order we originally placed (mostly because we tried to design the cheapest Alto possible with only the upgrades we deemed absolutely essential), which I’ll talk more about below. I’m so thankful we bought this one, instead of the more pared down version Justin and I originally designed- we pretty much exclusively boondock, mostly in more “off-grid” type places like Bureau of Land Management or National Forest lands, and it often feels like our trailer was specifically designed just for us and our camping style (which is also funny because the original owners exclusively stayed in campgrounds with hook-ups, so go figure).
I mainly focus on the features and upgrades of our trailer in this post, but if you’re interested in hearing about the big-picture pros and cons of the Alto, you can read about my 100-night review of the Safari Condo Alto.
Exterior of the Safari Condo Alto R1723
Major points of interest on the outside:
You can order either a lead acid battery or upgrade to a lithium one when purchasing an Alto, which will come on the tongue. We have the standard flooded 120-amp lead acid battery, which was pretty much the only upgrade we opted to get on the trailer we ordered from Getaway that our trailer’s previous owners didn’t select.
I won’t go into the pros and cons of each battery type here (that deserves its own separate post), but, after extensive amounts of boondocking, we think there’s little advantage to lead acid batteries, at least with respect to how we RV, and upgrading to a lithium battery is one of the only things I’d change about our trailer. If you want more information about this, here’s a helpful video or feel free to drop a comment below- Justin will be more than happy to bore you to death with all the battery knowledge!
On the left side of the trailer (the driver’s side), there’s a couple of different elements, including an outdoor shower, the fresh water fill port, and a storage basement, accessible from the exterior. The storage basement is handy, but it definitely could stand to be a bit bigger- between wheel chocks, the tongue wheel, leveling blocks, fresh water hose, surge protector, and other RVing necessities our basement is pretty crammed (and I really feel like we stick to the bare necessities).
Plus, whenever we do upgrade to a lithium battery, we’ll likely put it in the basement to prevent theft (tiny gripe with how Safari Condo places the batteries- it would be awesome if you could elect to have your battery placed in the basement for this reason!), so additional external storage space would be much appreciated. Of course, smaller and lighter trailers are going to come with some trade-offs, like less storage, so, in my opinion, this is a reasonable drawback.
At the time I’m writing this, Safari Condo offers an upgrade with 220 and 440 watts of flexible solar panels, which curve to match the contour of the roof. Given that the previous owners never camped without hook-ups, I have literally no idea why they elected to purchase 220 watts of solar panels, but I am oh so glad they did! Justin and I have worked remotely while boondocking and we easily can power our two cell phones, two laptops, two portable monitors, our wifi hot-spot, rechargeable headlamps, and a variety of other electronics- all from the power of the sun!
On sunny days, we can even run our microwave for extended periods of time, solely off solar (helllllllo, “baked” potatoes!). Justin has big plans to up our solar game sometime in the future by adding a couple lithium batteries and extra solar panels (in a perfect world, it would be awesome to be able to run our air conditioner off solar, which unfortunately isn’t possible with our current setup without shore power or a generator), but for now, our battery, inverter, and 220 watt solar panels meet most of our needs.
See those funny devices behind the wheels? They’re caravan movers, which allows you to move your Alto around while it’s unhooked from a tow vehicle, essentially with a remote control. Before purchasing our Alto, it drove me CRAZY how people in the Altoiste Facebook group (a Facebook group of Alto owners and those interested in purchasing Altos, which is an absolutely invaluable resource) insisted how imperative the caravan movers upgrade is – at around $3,000 a pop, they’re undoubtedly an expensive investment and, I mean, don’t plenty of people have trailers that don’t move around via remote control (spoiler alert: the Altoiste group was absolutely right)?
While we elected to skip caravan movers in our original Alto order, I am now a caravan mover evangelist after having them come with our used Alto. They’ve been incredibly helpful in countless circumstances, from getting down our narrow, L-shaped driveway, to backing up into tight campsites and even allowing us to unhitch the trailer from our SUV and turn the trailer 180-degrees on a narrow BLM road so that we could turn around on a road that we otherwise wouldn’t have been able to.
If it’s at all in the budget for you, I’d highly recommend getting them (but, if not, for what it’s worth, we were previously planning on purchasing this trailer valet to help us move our Alto around).
Double propane tanks:
Justin pushed super hard for us to get double propane tanks when we were originally placing our order, which seemed like overkill to me. After having them, though, I’m glad we do- it can oftentimes be surprisingly challenging to find someone to fill propane tanks (so many fill stations, so few attendants) and having two tanks allows us to comfortably stay out camping longer, especially in the winter months, when we burn through propane faster while heating the trailer.
If our trailer only had a single propane tank (as comes standard with the Alto), I’d highly recommend getting a gas level indicator, as I’ve found that the propane tank indicators aren’t very accurate (and if you have two tanks and still want a better gauge of your tanks, here’s a good indicator as well).
The Alto comes standard with a 12V Fantastic Fan roof vent, but, per our original salesmen, the #1 upgrade to this trailer is to the Maxxfan– and I can totally see why. The Fantastic Fan has some significant issues- namely, you can’t use it in the rain without purchasing an additional rain cover, which is fixed to the roof and would cause the R1723 to be too tall to fit into most residential garages.
While I love our Maxxfan (it’s quiet, does a great job of pulling cooler air in during the summer, and when not in use, sits lower than the highest point of the roof), I will point out that its remote is really finicky and unless you’re unable to reach the roof of the Alto, you’re almost certainly going to be changing the fan’s settings manually.
Other odds and ends on the outside that I won’t go into too much detail about:
- Flexride suspension, which makes our lives much easier when we go down all of those gnarly National Forest roads
- The R1723 comes standard with 13” inch-wheels, although you can elect to get up to 15” wheels (larger than that won’t fit into the wheel wells), which our Alto came with. Again, this is super helpful for the type of camping we do, although, honestly, one of my biggest gripes about the Alto is that I wish it had more ground clearance, as it’s been a limiting factor for us at certain off-road type campsites.
- The Alto comes with a 12-foot sewer hose and a storage pipe on the left-hand side. We’ve found that a longer hose is helpful at lots of the dump stations we’ve been to, so we have a hose carrier that accommodates our 20-foot sewer hose zip-tied to our Alto’s bumper.
- We get asked a lot about whether the funny thing on our roof is a cell signal booster- it’s actually a TV antennae. The upgrades with the TV that the previous owners chose are one of our least used features on the trailer- the one time I tried to watch The Bachelor finale over the antennae, it didn’t work (although, to be fair, we were in the middle of nowhere in Northern California); the TV has pretty disappointing resolution; and since we don’t usually stay at developed campgrounds, we haven’t been able to enjoy the cable TV wiring.
In my opinion, a good ol’ Netflix account and one of our portable monitors works just as well, if not better!
- Exterior LED lights on the right and left side- they totally drain your battery when accidentally left on overnight (not that I know from experience or anything…), but definitely come in handy maneuvering around outside at super dark campsites.
Interior of the Safari Condo Alto R1723
On to the inside! I’m going to break the trailer down into its main spaces- the front dining area, the kitchen, the bathroom, and the bed/couch area. Let’s get to it!
Front Dining Room
As you step into the trailer, you’ll have the wall of the commode to your left, which houses the water pump switch, the control to raise the roof, and the monitors for your fresh water, grey water, and black water tanks, as well as for your battery. I’ll flag that this monitor is really designed to read your holding tanks’ capacities and, at least with respect to the lead acid battery, only shows you your battery’s voltage, not really its state-of-charge. This is not very helpful, and honestly, more confusing than anything- as such, I’d recommend picking up an actual battery monitor.
We haven’t really done any serious modifications to our Alto (the Altoistes Facebook group members LOVE to talk about the various “mods” they do- it’s so neat to see all of the homemade upgrades members make!), but I’ll highlight the two baby modifications we’ve done here. We’ve fixed several Command Strip hooks to this wall to hold things like our dogs’ leashes, our headlamps, and coats (super cheap and helpful modification!) and also affixed a garbage can (actually, it’s a storage bin intended for dog food, but who’s counting?) to the bottom of the door, to maximize space efficiency.
On the right side is a table, where we do everything from prep veggies for our meals to work from of our laptops. The table comfortably seats two people (one on either side) and up to two kids at the very front (because of the curve of the front wall, it would not be comfortable to sit at the front as an average-sized adult). The previous owners did a much larger modification than any we’ve done so far with the table- they swapped out the original top for a larger one on a lagun mount, which allows the table to both swivel lengthwise and swing outwards, allowing you to easily slide in and out of the seats.
This also has the benefit of eliminating the floor mounted tracks that the factory installed table is designed to slide in (instead, the table is bolted to the side of the front bench, which, as previously mentioned, has limited functionality as a seating option anyway), which creates the perfect space for putting our dogs’ bed or their food and water bowls at night. In addition to acting as a table, the front converts into a single bed (truthfully, while the lagun mount is the MVP, it can be challenging to adjust vertically, so I’ve never converted our table into the bed formation).
Under the seating you’ll find: interior access to the basement on the left side; a small amount of storage (i.e., where we keep our Alto’s manuals, extra fuses, and other odds and ends we don’t need to access frequently), as well as wiring for electrical systems under the front bench; and the Dometic floor-mounted air conditioner upgrade under the right side (if you don’t get the air conditioner, this space will be a storage cubby). Under the table, there’s a duplex receptacle (just like the outlets in your home), one of three throughout the trailer (the other two are on the backside of the kitchen cabinet and at the front of the passenger side of the couch).
Quick note on the air conditioner: we rarely use it because you either need to be hooked up to shore power or a generator to run it (we’ve got our eyes on this ultra-quiet generator, but haven’t made the leap yet). We’ve sprung for campsites with hookups a couple of times when it was 90+ degrees out and it did a good job of keeping the trailer cool.
It’s worth mentioning here, though, that the aluminum walls of the Alto are certainly not the world’s best insulator (they are constructed of two sheets of aluminum, with a honeycomb fiber core), so our trailer can feel pretty cold in the winter and steamy in the summertime (with all of our best heat mitigation strategies in practice, the Alto is usually about 10-15 degrees hotter than the outside temperature on sunny days with little wind). So if you live in a pretty hot place, like Texas or Florida, you will likely need to camp with shore power or a generator so that you can use the air conditioner as needed.
Next up- I’d be remiss to not talk about perhaps my favorite upgrade- THE BIG FRONT WINDOW! The big front window is arguably the most controversial topic amongst the Altoistes (besides the interior shower, but I’ll get to that later), but I am staunchly on Team “BFW”, as it’s affectionately called in the Alto community. In order to get the BFW, you forgo some small storage cubbies at the front that come standard with the Alto or alternatively, you can upgrade to a bunk bed that folds up against the front wall.
But the BFW’s light! That view! While BFW critics argue that it causes the trailer to heat up faster on sunny days, the window opens up wide to create great circulation (and when you’re gone from your trailer, you can open it to a locked position to just create a small amount of air flow). The BFW also comes with a black-out shade that pulls down from the top and a translucent shade that pulls up from its bottom. All in all, I can’t rave enough about our BFW!
Moving on to where the magic happens- the kitchen! The kitchen consists of a cabinet with: (1) a Dometic two burner stove, (2) a refrigerator, (3) a sink, and (4) an optional microwave. Both the stove and the sink (which has a faucet that swivels up and down for storage) are covered by tempered glass lids, which provides additional counter-space when those items aren’t in use.
We have the Dometic two-way fridge (that runs on either propane or shore power), which I absolutely love. Since we primarily boondock, we have to think about saving battery power (which the other fridge option in the 2020 models solely ran on), so fueling our fridge with propane is a no brainer. Plus my husband and I can fit a surprising amount of food in it! We also have the optional built-in Master Chef microwave which runs off your battery via a DC to AC inverter (and pulls a LOT of power).
At first, I thought we really wouldn’t be using the microwave very often due to the whole boondocking/lack of power thing, but thanks to our handy dandy Kisae inverter, we can run the microwave to heat up our lunches or dinners on any sunny day (thanks, solar!).
The only thing that’s missing from a kitchen perspective is an oven- and I’m going to be honest, I definitely wish the Alto had an oven (again, #smalltrailerproblems). Justin and I picked up this Coleman Camping Stove, which you can use with the Alto’s burners. It’s not a perfect solution (and definitely, make sure you keep an eye on it if you try to use it in your trailer as well), but it’s certainly better than nothing!
As for storage, there’s three shelves under the sink (two of which can slide) and a little 2-shelf spice rack above the stovetop. Justin and I cook a pretty wide variety of things with a minimal amount of cookware (i.e., we have a lidded 10.5 inch sauté pan, a stovetop kettle, four Correlle chip-resistant bowl/plate hybrids, a good chef’s knife, a cutting board, and a handful of utensils and have never felt limited in what we cook due to the tools we have on hand) and have no issues storing our kitchenware in the Alto.
Given that there admittedly isn’t a ton of storage space, though, we keep most of our dry goods in big storage bins in the trunk of our SUV, but grabbing a can of beans out of the car before we want to cook dinner has never really been that big of a deal. If lots of kitchen storage is important to you, note that, if you don’t get the microwave option, you do get a bit of extra storage space above the sink.
Our kitchen space also hosts a bunch of odds and ends:
- The right side of the spice rack has four USB ports and our dimmer switch for the two lights at the front of the trailer, one in the middle, and two in the back. The dimmer is another add-on that I wouldn’t have elected to buy, but I’m so glad the previous owners aren’t as cheap as me- those LED lights are BRIGHT!
- Above the refrigerator is a Bluetooth enabled radio and CD player. We didn’t think we’d get much use out of this add-on, but, when we watch Hulu or Netflix, we wind up hooking up one of our portable monitors to a cell phones to serve as a bigger screen and then playing the audio through the Alto’s Bluetooth. Definitely not a necessary upgrade, but we’ve gotten way more use out of it than I thought we would!
- Also above the fridge is the switch for our inverter. Inverters might not sound that sexy but BOY, am I glad we have it. For any device that solely uses alternating current (like the microwave, my laptop, our drone charger, most electronics that can’t be powered by USB), you’ll rely on the inverter a ton if you plan on camping without shore power. Probably not worth it if you mostly plan to camp with hookups, but if you’re interested in boondocking, or microwave cooking while on the road, I’d highly recommend it.
- There’s a display on the right side of the microwave that shows the wattage of solar you’re receiving. There’s nothing more satisfying than when we see we’re getting 200+ watts of solar!
- On the left side of the microwave are the controls for the Truma Combi water heater/furnace and Dometic air conditioner. Unlike the air conditioner, the Truma Combi does not require shore power (i.e., it’s fan can run solely off your battery), which, in my opinion, actually makes camping way easier in the wintertime, at least in our home of the Pacific Northwest.
As a baby “mod”, we have added a thermometer that shows the temperature and humidity inside the trailer. Once it gets too humid in there, you’ll need to turn the fan on to avoid excessive moisture and every RVer’s arch nemesis, mold in your trailer.
The R1723 has a commode with a door that fully closes when you’re in it (which is not the case with the R1713- if the bathroom is, ahem, in use, the user won’t be able to close the door). There’s a reasonably comfortable flush toilet that empties directly into our black tank. There’s a little spray nozzle next to the toilet, which I think is intended to help with cleaning- it has really weak water pressure, though, so it sees little use in our trailer.
The Alto has a 16 gallon fresh water tank, a 12 gallon gray water tank (i.e., where your water from your sink and shower goes), and a 12 gallon black water tank (i.e., where all the waste from the toilet goes). The tank capacity is one of my least favorite features of the Alto- these are really small tanks and are definitely the factor that limits us the most while we’re camping.
We’ve picked up a 6 gallon jerry can that we leave in the trunk of our car, so we can easily refill the fresh water tank without moving our trailer from a campsite; we’ve figured out some good mitigation strategies to limit our usage of gray water (like using compostable paper plates and showering on days when we know we’re going to dump our sewage), but there’s only so much you can do to limit your usage of the black tank.
We recently made it 9 days at a campsite before our black tank was maxed out (which isn’t too bad) and you can always pick up portable waste holding tanks to give you some extra capacity, but I do wish Safari Condo offered an upgrade to larger tanks.
Controversial topic time- the interior shower. In the front passenger-side corner of the bathroom is the hot water and cold water knobs and a shower sprayer, and a shower curtain which rings the commode area on a ceiling mounted tracks so the area can convert into a shower (note that for either the interior or exterior shower, you’ll need to take a Navy shower- i.e., hose yourself down, lather up, and then rinse yourself off, rather than having a continuous water stream).
Til’ my deathbed, I will argue that I am SO thankful that we have an interior shower (although many 1713 owners on the Altoiste Facebook group certainly beg to differ).
Why do I love the 1723’s shower set up so much?
- We can take showers almost any time we want! Since we rarely stay at established campgrounds with shower facilities, we’re 100% reliant on our trailer for showering. And while both the 1713 and 1723 have an exterior shower, there’s been countless times that we’ve needed to shower when it wouldn’t have been comfortable to use the exterior one.
Think: when you’re camping when it’s cold, windy, dusty, or raining or when you’re camping someplace where it would be pretty weird to take a shower outside (for example, just this weekend, we took an indoor shower in the parking lot of a Walmart we were staying in overnight- I’ve discovered that, indeed, my classiness barometer will prevent me from showering outside of my trailer in the middle of a Cracker Barrel parking lot).
With an interior shower, we’ve been able to get clean, no matter what environment we’re camping in. As a note, if you’re planning on camping in a site for a while, you do have to be judicious about your shower usage so your gray tank doesn’t fill up, but since there’s plenty of times where we’re not staying at a particular campsite for 5+ days, we’ve gotten countless uses out of our shower.
- Privacy! You can wrap the shower curtain around the commode when in use and it turns into your own little private bathroom sanctuary. Both trailers come with an optional “privacy curtain” upgrade that, per my understanding, divides the front and back half of the trailer- however, this means that if someone is using the commode, the other people in the trailer would need to stay in the back half to let the person use the toilet in peace.
Using the shower curtain for privacy instead, the other people in the trailer can freely move about the trailer- exit the door, sit at the front table to do work, do dishes in the kitchen- whatever. And- time for a completely unscientific hypothesis- I think the closed shower curtain may do a better job of retaining scary smells emitted from the area (at least, better than just the privacy curtain), which can be quickly vented out by the overhead MaxxFan, before said smells radiate throughout the trailer.
In conclusion, get yourself an interior shower if your needs/interests are anything like ours. Thank you for coming to my R1723 TED Talk.
There’s also four four-inch deep shelves along the front wall of the commode to store various items- we’ve picked up a couple storage containers from Ikea to help organize some of the items we store here, but admittedly, I feel like we could be using these a bit more effectively.
In the back of the trailer is a U-shaped wrap-around couch. When in a couch formation, there are two cushions and back support blocks that can make the seating comfortable-ish (I won’t lie, one of my qualms with the Alto is how uncomfortable the seating options are, although I don’t think this issue is particularly unique to this trailer).
Under the passenger side bench, there’s storage, which you can either access from sliding doors from the center aisle or from lifting up the benchtop. The back bench flips down to accommodate the roof when it’s not retracted (and thus, can’t be used for storage) and the driver side bench is about half storage (similar to the passenger side), with the front half taken up by the space/water heater. There’s also two corner shelves in the back, which act as great “bedside tables” whenever Justin and I are watching a movie or sleeping in the back of the trailer.
Speaking of which, when you’re ready to make the bed, you easily pop the two cushions in the middle section of the couch and you have a big ol’ comfy king-size bed (alternatively, you can leave the cushions out and use the U-shape couch as two single beds)!
One aspect I love about the Alto is that you can use the bed in a manner that you’re sleeping feet facing the front of the trailer (i.e., if one person has to go to the bathroom in the middle of the night, they don’t have to literally crawl over a person to get there, which is the configuration most small trailers use). As briefly mentioned above, by electing to get the interior shower in the R1723, you will lose a couple of square feet at the end of the passenger side of the bed.
This hasn’t been an issue for Justin (who is 6’0”) and me (5’4”)- Justin sleeps on the left side and I usually sleep diagonal on the bed or with my legs slightly splayed, but perhaps if you’re a member of a very tall couple, the cut-out may make for an uncomfortable sleeping arrangement.
And as for yet another upgrade I wouldn’t have opted to get, but am sure glad the previous owners did- the memory foam mattress. I personally think the bed in the Alto is pretty dang comfortable (especially for what it is) and I sleep really well on it; however, I know others within the Alto community complain about the mattress options and have opted to get mattress toppers.
So if you have back problems or are very particular about what kind of mattress you sleep on, you may want to consider skipping the memory foam and investing in a mattress topper that works well for you.
As a really light sleeper, one of my concerns about the Alto was whether there was going to be too much light at night with all of those big, dreamy windows. But the trailer is excellently designed, with custom black-out curtains which slide against all of the walls and even little black-out inserts that snap into place on the door and the Maxxfan. With all of the windows drawn, it stays delightfully dark in the Alto- even for the light sleepers amongst us!
And that concludes my tour of my Safari Condo Alto trailer. I love our Alto so much and am more than happy to answer any of your questions about it in the comments section below. We’d also love to hear from other Alto owners. What are some of your favorite options? What works well and what are some of your pain points? Hope to see you on the road!