All-important water purification incorporates a three-step Everpure filter, similar to the type used by commercial airlines. A 92-gallon stainless-steel water tank is adequate for traveling two to three weeks, nonstop across the Sahara.

The dinette is set into a three-sided alcove in the rear with windows all around. It converts into a guest bed. All storage compartments, inside and out, use lightweight plastic boxes on slide-out rollers. Lilli, Thomas's wife, insisted on little practical touches, like overhead wine glass racks, a large stainless sink, and an ice-cream maker.

In the back, the spare tire is accessed on a slide-out carrier underneath the dinette. Above that is a secure rack for a DR 250 Suzuki motorcycle. Gasoline for the generator and motorcycle is stored in integrated compartments on the motorcycle rack.

The top of the camper is reached either through the flip-up hatch over the bed, or by the ladder outside. Once on top, Thomas calls it his roof Garden, a comfortable lounging area for six people with a flip-up safety rail and wind/privacy screens if needed.

With an expedition camper like this, getting there can be half the fun. Fully loaded, this ALU-Star weighs in at 24,250 pounds, with 256 gallons of fuel and 92 gallons of water. Departure angle is 40 degrees, approach angle is 45 degrees, ground clearance is 15 inches, and fording depth is 6.5 feet. Total length with the motorcycle rack is 26 feet, and height is 11 feet. Normal range in the desert without refueling is 2300 miles.

If you'd like to have ALU-Star build one for you, start saving. You might be looking at around $800,000, about what you'd spend for a similar vehicle built by Unicat or Langer & Bock.