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.
As you receive this newsletter, the MPSA film crews are somewhere between Graaff-Reinet and Molteno, finding all those isolated little back-road passes and poorts, which you will be seeing over the next few months as production resumes in January 2017. One of our goals for the new year, is to produce the MPSA book. More news on that side of the project as things develope.
With most of our readers on holiday at this time of year, we feature something a little different today. Our 'Pass of the Week' is one of the best off-road passes on offer and all of it falls within the protection of a nature reserve ensuring a peaceful journey coupled with unsullied scenery.
The pass can only be driven in a high clearance 4WD vehicle, adventure motorcycle or MTB and once you've watched the videos, you will understand why. The pass traverses the South Africa-Lesotho border at it's summit and presents an exciting and challenging drive for the more experienced off-road driver, but It should never be attempted alone.
With some of the most exquisite Eastern Cape scenery on offer, there is usually also time to visit the beautifully designed buildings of the Mariazell Mission Station which is near the foot of the pass.
Christmas is almost upon us and each year we find something appropriate to gift to our readers. Today we have a bumper pre-Christmas edition featuring a double pass of great scenic value, featuring 3 videos with outstanding scenery.
With the annual influx of visitors from up-country to the coast, we thought it appropriate to feature a coastal pass this week. The Western Cape has by far, the largest number of mountain passes in South Africa and some spectacular passes close to the ocean. Perhaps the most famous is Chapman's Peak Drive, which must rank as the most frequently closed pass in South Africa, due to rain, rock-falls, accidents, fires, cycle tours, maintenance or suicides.
Although "Chappies" grabs most of the limelight, there is another big pass on the opposite side of the Cape Peninsula, spanning the entire eastern rim of False Bay, which can easily be overlooked by the short-stay visitor and it is this fabulous and magnificently restored road that we feature today.
It's a road of stunning coastal vistas, providing access to view sites, fishing spots, hiking trails, beaches, tidal pools, whale watching as well as access to several coastal towns such as Rooi Els, Pringle Bay, Betty's Bay, Kleinmond and Hermanus. Read on as we take you over this beautiful drive in a two part video series, exploring the history, nooks and crannies of this 'not to be missed' coastal drive. Driving the pass with knowledge, makes it so much more enjoyable.
December has arrived. It's a time of festivities, holidays - a time of giving. It's also a time when the road death toll increases dramatically. Drive defensively this festive season; comply with the speed limits; rest if you're tired and ensure your vehicle is roadworthy. We want you back next year.
2017 is going to be a huge year for MPSA and we are setting our goals at completing all 750 passes by Dec 2017. It is possible, as we produced just over 250 passes during 2016. With the addition of the new Ben 10 Challenge and other exciting developements, we are anticipating that 2017 will be a massive year for us. None of this success and achievement can be achieved without the support of the public - which is currently 60,000 strong each month. Our readers cover all race groups and genders and the appeal of the passes and poorts seems to be universal. Thank you for your support of this uplifting and challenging project.
This week we head off into the Little Karoo and specifically to the fascinating town of Steyterville, where we explore and drive the 'Poort of the Flags'. Besides the normal video, we added a second video on Steyterlville itself, as we dig back into it's rich history and uncover some detail - like the fact that Dr Danie Craven lived there and where he married his first wife - amongst other famous South Africans. This Karoo town is a fine example of how to 'get things right' post 1994.
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.