We have a full news release this week.
Change is always difficult to cope with and we have some major changes taking place within the website this week. The most important change is the switch to a subscription based site. As all our regulars know, we have been working hard on this for the past 4 months (on the technical side of things), which are finally in place and we are ready for the roll-out. Lower down on this page we explain exactly how this will affect you and what actions you need to take to remain on the mailing list and to continue to enjoy full access to the website.
Secondly, after many requests, we are pleased to announce that a zipped file containing all 670 of the route files in a single download, can now be purchased from our online shop. For our paid subscribers there will be an additional benefit of a 10% reduction off any item on the online shop, including the Route Files digital download.
This week's featured pass takes us back into the beautiful Eastern Cape highlands, not far from Rhodes, where we introduce you to an off-the-beaten-track pass that will have you longing for the open spaces and big mountain-scapes.
Our YouTube channel has just surpassed the 1 million views mark. Finally we're in the premiere league! We are still tweaking the switch-over to the subcriber format and it looks like another week before this finally kicks in. We will provide detailed information in next week's news release.
For those wanting to enter the Ben 10 Eco-Challenge, here is the link: BEN 10 ECO CHALLENGE.
This week we leave the stunning scenery of the Eastern Cape Highlands behind and take a drive to Harrismith on the KZN/Free State border. This magnificent part of South Africa offers exceptional scenic beauty with unique sandstone formations stretching for many kilometres along the border.
Our featured pass this week, was submitted by one of our readers (Dennis Green) and we were most surprised when we researched this little pass as to just how steep it was. Our camera man, Mike Leicester, was so taken with this pass, that he urged us to get it into the front of the production queue. A comment he made was "....a bit like it would feel driving down a mine-shaft...."
So steep is this pass with gradients under 1:3 that it would be impossible to drive it if it weren't concreted. It has logged in as the second steepest pass nationally with an average gradient of just under 1:7 . It's not for the faint-hearted.
Just when we think it's safe to go in the water........ Records are made to be broken. We've had some astonishing numbers come across our desk this week, surpassing by a long margin any previous highs we had achieved. During December 2016 we logged over 100,000 page views. What makes this remarkable is that our readership was steady between 55,000 and 60,000 for the last 6 months of 2016. Also during December, a single Face Book post on the Sani Pass logged a fraction under 160,000 views over a period of just 3 days. Once everyone went back to work, we expected the numbers to return to late 2016 levels, but they have pegged in at 80,000. We have just passed the 10,000 LIKES mark on our FaceBook page as well. A massive thank you to everyone for this throroughly rewarding support.
The Ben 10 Eco Challenge which we've been talking about for over 3 months, was launched last Saturday. Entries are streaming in and already the number 1 spot has been claimed by Mr. Rudi Pieters, who completed the challenge on a BMW R1200GSA motorcycle. The gauntlet is down! We've had a few questions about the dates of the challenge.
We have just returned from a short filming trip into the Southern Cape, where we refilmed some of your favourite passes in the area, which included the fabulous Swartberg Pass and the lovely Schoemanspoort. We also refilmed the timeless Montagu Pass and finally got some decent footage of the Outeniqua Pass. On our way back we uncovered a brand new pass, called the Perdehoekdraai Pass close to Oudtshoorn. All of these new videos will be available on the website over the next few weeks.
We met a Canadian couple (over the age of 60) who have cycled through South America and most of Africa - finishing their trip off in South Africa. They have cycled in excess of 3800 km and used this website as part of their planning for the South African leg. The extraordinary thing is that through that entire journey the only thing that was stolen was a roll of toilet paper - and that by a baboon!
There are some new and important developments at Mountain Passes South Africa. After many requests for a downloadable file containing all the route files in a single folder, we will be making this available within the next 10 days via our online shop at a cost of R300.
The Ben 10 Eco-Challenge will be officially launched within the next two weeks and those interested will be able to enter online on the website. There will be a new submenu tab under the FIND A PASS menu tab. Entries will be free and there will be wonderful prizes on offer including accommodation at various hotels, lodges and guest houses in the area. Every successful person to complete the challenge will have their names listed on that page in perpetuity.
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.
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.