Back to work and back to school
We're starting 2018 off with lots of news and interesting stories. Our featured pass this week ( a new one) has just been added to the website and whilst the pass won't get your adrenaline pumping (unless you're a cyclist), it is interesting in many ways, but it is especially the history of the area which caught our attention and a specific story which dates back to 1833, when the son of one of Hankey's founders, William Philip, decided to build an irrigation tunnel through a strip of mountain along the Gamtoos River, to enable valuable arable land to be properly irrigated. The story has an exceptionally cruel twist at the end, making this a "must-read" More lower down....
MPSA Price Structure for 2018
As with all things, our costs have also increased over the last year. Improved video equipment, faster computers, fuel price hikes, vehicle maintenance and better quality hosting platforms - it's a long list and we have to unfortunately raise our subscription fees a little to keep this rather large ship on an even keel and heading in the right direction. We spent many weeks studying trends, consulting with experts and after thorough research, here is the 2018 structure: (Fanfare!)
1. For existing subscribers the fee is going up from R200 to R225 per year. A small increase and our way of saying thank you for your loyalty.
2. New subscrptions for 2018 will be R250 a year. Still one of the best bargains on the internet.
3. We are also bringing in a new category of subscription for 6 months at R180 a year. This is the 'convenience shopping' package. This is to cater for those who want a shorter subscription or just want to use the website to plan a single trip - for example overseas visitors.
4. Gift vouchers will obviously be priced the same as the new annual subscription rate at R250.
Our goal is to retain 100% of existing subscribers, all of whom will know the value for money they are getting.
Here's how things will happen when your renewal becomes due. More lower down.....
Brand new photo competition
Submit your best (only 1 please) photo to us and stand a chance to win a 1 year subscription to MPSA.
The rules are simple. The subject matter must be South African. Only original photos will be considered and must be taken by yourself or a family member.
Photos should be submitted in their original size and can be B&W or colour. Add a short explanation of where the photo was taken so we can caption it.
Ben 10 Eco Challenge
More entries have arrived and a new batch of adventurers have completed the challenge. The latest group of 3 vehicles all completed the challenge in the diminutive, but highly capable Suzuki Jimny. This brand is now numerically the top in the list of 4x4 finishers. If that's not an advertising opportunity for Suzuki, then nothing is! More lower down....
Happy New Year
With New Year celebrations still ringing loudly in our ears, your team at MPSA would like to wish every one of our subscribers a healthy, prosperous, travel filled 2018. We have a number of new innovations lined up for you in our quest to constantly improve the quality of our work. From Mike Leicester in Jhb and Trygve Roberts in Cape Town, we send our very best wishes!
It's always important to look back on the year gone past and take stock of achievements and failures. We added 59 new passes to the website and 74 upgraded videos went under the 'upgrade' hammer. We undertook 14 road trips between the two offices (Jhb & CT) and travelled in excess of 22,000 km filming over 200 Gb of HD footage. More than 700 man hours was spent on research. A further 1200 hours was dedicated to editing and video production. We racked up a total of 722,000 page views on the website in 2017 and moved our global ranking up by over 155,000 positions. The graph below shows how the page views panned out during the year. We also don't know why 10,000 people visited the site on a single day in February! 2018 - here we come!
New Year Wish
To each and every one of our subcribers and followers, we extend our heartfelt thanks for your loyalty and support throughout 2017 and for keeping the website and Face Book page true to its original intentions. We extend our wishes for a wonderful 2018 filled with lots of adventure travel in the company of those that you love and care about. From our side, we promise to bring you more of what you enjoy.
HAPPY NEW YEAR! (Yes, we are a few days early!)
Pass of the Week
Our final news release for 2017 covers a variety of topics and for most of you who are still on holiday, sit back, relax and enjoy the journey with us. Our featured pass today is one of the Baviaanskloof classics and we have a 2 part video set for you to enjoy. More lower down....
Muzik to our ears
Last week we drew a prize for those who have completed the Ben 10 Eco Challenge - a wonderful country weekend for two at South Africa's highest altitude (2720m) resort - The Tiffindell Ski Resort. The prize went to Bruce Muzik of Hout Bay. After notifying Bruce by email of his prize, he responded by saying that he would be out of South Africa for the whole of 2018 and would therefore not be able to cash in on his prize. Being the consummate gentleman, Bruce offered his prize to be redrawn. Give that man a Bells! More lower down...
Like all things MPSA has considerable costs and whilst we try to keep the subscription rates as low as we possibly can, we have to reasonably cover our expenses in order to keep the website excellent, current and comprehensive. We spent an entire day brain-storming various ideas and we have come up with innovative solutions, which will cater better for a wider audience, with several new options becoming available.
Pass of the Week:
Nestled over a distance of almost 12 km across the Langeberg our featured pass of the week goes back to 1877 and was a pain in the neck for our favourite road engineer, Thomas Bain. Construction work was hampered by rockfalls, floods, a bone-weary labour force (convicts) and a dire lack of government funds. This left Bain with little option to build a lower quality road, which was later altered when funds became available. This magnificent pass offers exceptional scenery, hiking trails, picnic spots, an old toll house, waterfalls, wild flowers and a good quality tarred road packed with well engineered bends, corners and curves. More lower down....
Chistmas 2017 - a time of hope for South Africans
This is the last news letter before Chirstmas, so we would like to take this opportunity of wishing all our subscribers a safe and relaxing festive season wherever you are. It's been another hugely productive year for the teams at MPSA who strive to bring you the finest quality research and videography. There is even more lined up for 2018 with fresh ideas and constantly improving equipment quality. There will be a subscription increase in 2018, but for existing subscribers, we will build in a special discount. The details will be published in January next year.
Buy that special person you care about a long-lasting and memorable gift of a one year subscription to MPSA for R200. It's a simple automated process via our secure online shop where you can write your own personalised message and have another gift issue resolved in a flash. Here is the link: http://bit.ly/2neuJhR
Ben 10 Eco Challenge
Entries are now at 47 with only 17 having earned the "I did it" badge. Tiffindell Ski Resort have offerred the first lucky prize draw of a weekend's accommodation for two. The first winner by random draw is BRUCE MUZIK. Congratulations Bruce, we will be sending your voucher per email today. Your prize is valid up till the the end of December, 2018.
Remember there are still another three prizes up for grabs by our other sponsors. All those of you who have entered still have valid entries which will remain open indefinitely. Make your plans, study the passes, pick your favourite route options and get out there!
Remember, it's always safer to drive or ride the passes with the company of at least one other vehicle, in the event of an emergency. Become one of the select few who get to earn the badge - I completed the Ben 10 Eco Challenge.
This week we take a look at the third article on clouds written by Anton Kriegler.
Of Jimnys, Kudus and GoPros
Our final filming trip for 2017 has just been completed - a six day excursion starting in Cape Town with an eastern turn-around point at Addo and back via a more northern route. We managed to film 27 passes during that period and whilst there were a few gremlins thrown into our path, in general terms the trip was very successful. The highlights were undoubtedly the Baviaanskloof and the Bedrogfontein 4x4 route. In an effort to economise on our fuel costs, we opted to use our short-haul filming vehicle - a 2017 stock standard Suzuki Jimny, which was a major adjustment after the 4,5 litre Toyota Land Cruiser.
The Jimny is a small vehicle, but with some mental application, we managed to squeeze the following items into the back, with the back seats flipped down. A 65 litre Waeco fridge-freezer, 1 x ammo box of assorted non-perishable food, a portable Weber braai, 5 litres of water, 3 kg of charcoal, 2 x large bags of clothing, 1 x portable 12v compressor, 1 x laptop, 1 x camera box, a box of sufficient quantities of imbibing liquid, recovery equipment and many other smaller sundry items. Once packed we still managed a clear view through the rear window. More lower down...
MPSA NAVIGATION 101
Each week we offer a tip on how to maximise your viewing pleaure on the website. If you want to check our latest pass releases, simply click on the FIND A PASS menu tab, and the newest passes will display from the top down. If you want to see the latest upgraded videos of passes previously published, we always post these at the foot of the news letter each week and hyperlink them for your convenience.
You can access our Face Book page (we had over 600,000 page views in November!) directly from any page on the website, by scrolling down to the bottom of the page you are on. Look for the Face Book widget > Click on it and you'll be there.
Anton Kriegler has written another edition on clouds - what they mean to us as travellers and how to identify them. Due to the length of this week's newsletter, we will carry this feature over till next week.
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.