During 2016, after a prompt from one of our loyal readers, we introduced a snazzy new map, showing all the camping sites in South Africa, which is proving very popular with our viewers. We introduced an online MPSA shop offering branded clothing, mountain pass guided tours, public speaking engagements and a popular trip planner spreadsheet.
Our weekly newsletter subscriber list grew exponentially to the point that we reached our maximum level, which resulted in some of our subscribers not receiving their newsletter. This entailed moving half our readers from Mailchimp over to Mailer Lite, which should meet our growing needs until the end of 2017 or thereabouts.
Work on the Mountain Passes book has begun and we have allocated a 6 month time frame for it to reach completion. Negotiations with publishers have commenced and we will keep everyone updated via this medium and the FaceBook page. The concept is to produce two versions of the book - a coffee table hard-cover version as well as a smaller A5 travel companion, soft-cover version. The book will have around 1000 pages and is bound to be a popular item.
Further news on the technology front is the possibility of developing an App and we are also investigating the addition of drone footage into our videos. All these things cost lots of money and the burden of shouldering these financial expenses, whilst still offering a completely free website to everyone is becoming increasingly difficult to sustain. We are researching alternative methods of funding the project, which might include a small paid subscription for access to the technical material and videos, whilst still keeping the basics free. More on that in the New Year.
The Extreme Passes page gained a lot of popularity in 2016, racking up 26,771 page views with our 10 most popular passes panning out as follows:
1 Sani Pass 55339
2 Swartberg Pass 39356
3 Gamkaskloof 32568
4 PrinceAlfredsPass 26933
5 Bainskloof Pass 22177
6 VanReenensPass 21042
7 Studtis Poort 19169
8 Meiringspoort 18630
9 Du Toitskloof Pass N1 18143
10 Montagu Pass 17508
We did three extended filming trips during 2016, capturing more than one hundred passes and poorts on video. Our most recent trip from 16th to 20th December included the filming of the new Ben 10 series for the upcoming eco-challenge, which we hope to be launching during January, 2017 - and already inquiries are streaming in before we've even had the time to write the rules!
We have been working closely with the government naming commission on establishing the correct and accurate names of mountain passes and MPSA are considered by government to have the appropriate standards. We're kind of proud of that one! The first pass to be officially ratified was the Koebee Pass in the Northern Cape.
Perhaps the single most important thing we achieved in 2016 was the addition of Johannesburg based Mike Leicester into our team. This has hugely improved our rate of production and between the southern and northern film crews, we managed to add more than 250 passes onto the website.
We are immensely proud of what we have achieved in just four years from basic blog to a world-class website - and all of that achieved on a shoe-string budget, but with a LOT of man-hours thrown into the mix. 2017 promises to be a year of even greater achievement, moving the website up to a higher level and giving you a first class experience in terms of entertainment, positivity, information and accurate data. We will NEVER forget our roots and that without loyal support from our readers, we have nothing to crow about. So take a bow!
We thought it fitting to say farewell to 2016 with our most popular pass - the magnificent Sani. On that page you can watch three videos as well as access hyperlinks to another eight YouTube videos covering a range of scenic subjects in Lesotho including a Katse Dam feature and the incredibly high Maletsunyane Waterfall, which boasts a Guinness World Record.
The timing is about as perfect as what one could expect as next week, the Sani Pass will be losing one of its statistical records - that of the highest pass in South Africa. We have filmed a new pass on the 16th December, called the Ben MacDhui Pass which is much tougher than the Sani (albeit much shorter), but it does summit at 3001m ASL, toppling the Sani Pass record by 125m.
Enjoy the feature today. We wish all our viewers, subscribers and followers a safe and prosperous New Year. Whatever you do, don't drink and drive.
******* SANI PASS *******
Thought for the new year: “Take risks. If you win you will be happy. If you loose, you will be wise.”