Our featured pass this week, had us stumped as far back as October, 2013, when a landslide blocked our way amidst soaking and persistent rain and poor video footage. We had no option but to admit defeat and vowed to return to film this amazing and very challenging pass. Like most of the really major gravel passes, this one lies in the very heart of the Eastern Cape Highlands. We made it back on the 17th December, 2016 in perfect weather.
We used two vehicles and three cameras to create over 22 Gigs of raw footage (around 7 hours of footage), which then had to be condensed and edited down to 28 minutes, which we devided up into 6 separate videos to do justice to this monumentally fabulous mountain pass.
Not everyone owns a 4x4, which is a prerequisite to complete this drive, and for those that cannot drive this one themselves, we invite you to sit next to our cameraman and enjoy all the best bits of this very tricky pass. And it's not all technical driving - there are alpine flowers, sandstone mountains, mountain donkeys and vistas that will truly take your breath away.
From the one extreme to the other! Last week we cyber-drove the highest pass in South Africa - the Ben MacDhui Pass at 3001m and today we whisk you to a pass that has a summit altitude of just 105m ASL and it's only 1,2 km long, but don't be skeptical as this pass has a whole lot of unusual and unique features not repeated on any other pass in South Africa.
It is the only pass that provides direct access to a modern Grand Prix race track and it's also the only pass to have been part of a Grand prix race track and in fact, South Africa's first ever Grand Prix circuit, which dates all the way back to 17th December, 1934.
In our video of this pass, we have added in one lap around the current Grand Prix race track. Potters Pass, which is one of only two passes with the city limits of East London, connects the area known as West Bank with Molteno Road and race track itself.
Take the cyber drive with us, as we take you back to the glory days of motor racing.....
We wish all of our readers a wonderful, healthy 2017 filled with travel and adventure and a sense of rediscovering this beautiful country we live in. With many of you still on holiday, the roads will be busy as families begin the exodus back to their homes. Drive defensively and rest often. The annual road death carnage in South Africa during holiday periods is a blight on our copybook.
In our final news release of 2016 we spoke of our FaceBook successes (amongst other things). On Thursday, 29th December, we posted a photo of the Sani Pass taken from an unusual angle. That post absolutely smashed any previous achievements we were crowing about by more than 150%. It was viewed by just under 160,000 people and amassed 1700 Likes and 180 comments. The post only contained one short sentence. We never know what to expect when we do our FaceBook posts, but that one was an education of note.
With the Sani Pass remaining in the news this week, one of its impressive records is about to take a tumble - As of the 1st January, 2017 it is no longer the highest pass in South Africa. That honour now goes to a new pass which reaches 3001m at its summit and it is our featured pass this week.
As the year of 2016 draws to an end, as is the norm, we take stock of what we have achieved in the past year - our successes and failures. Last week we were interviewed by 702 Radio on how to drive the Sani Pass, which immediately boosted page views and we topped 15,000 page views in one week for the first time ever. The total website hits since launch is now well in excess of 1,5 million! We anticipate that the 2 million mark will be attained during 2017.
Perhaps our biggest success this year has been the unprecedented growth of our FaceBook page which has amassed 8650 'Likes'. Our message of South African scenic beauty, rich history and positive messages seems to have found a deep-rooted need in many of our listeners in a social-media filled space filled mainly with negativity. Our sub-features on some of the beautiful old churches of the platteland were hugely popular, with one post attracting over 40,000 views in 3 days. Our FaceBook page states: "Typically replies in 1 hour" - that's something else we seem to be good at. Every single email is answered personally. Some days we receive more than 50 emails, so it is time consuming, but we believe it is those bits of attention to detail which sets us apart from rest.
A review of our demographics reveal that 46% of our viewers are female and 53% male. The age group mix is surprisingly well spread over the six age group categories, with about 34% accessing the website via mobile devices. All that time and money we spent on making the website mobile friendly during 2016 has proved its worth. A very interesting trend is the decline in the use of tablets. It would seem that with mobile phones being manufactured with ever larger screens, this has dynamically changed the tablet purchasing trends.
With Christmas just a few days away, we gave some serious thought as to our featured pass this week. We avoided the famous (and busy) passes, which you all know anyway, and have instead sought out one of those remote gravel passes that very few people ever have the opportunity to drive. Our gift to you - the voyage of discovery.
This pass is located in the high altitude region of the Eastern Cape about 25 km north of Elliot in a quiet and remote valley, incongruous amongst all the bigger, better known passes, including most of the so called Big 8. We feature the descent of the pass as well as a separate video covering the beautiful drive out of the valley - amidst tall poplar trees, peaceful farms, towering sandstone mountains, clear, swiftly flowing streams packed with trout and crisp clean skies that invigorate and calm the senses.
Mountain Passes South Africa is a website dedicated to the research, documentation, photographing and filming of the mountain passes of South Africa.
Passes are classified according to provinces and feature a text description, Fact File including GPS data, a fully interactive dual-view map and a narrated YouTube video.
We are as passionate about maps as we are about mountain passes. A good map is a thing of beauty that can transport you into the mists of time or get your sense of adventure churning. It is a place to make discoveries about deserts and seas, mountains and lakes; of roads leading into places you have not been before; a place to pore over holiday destinations or weekend camping trips. A map is your window to the world.