Latest News! 29th December, 2016

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We wish you a fantastic 2017 with lots of adventure travel We wish you a fantastic 2017 with lots of adventure travel - Photo: RedBull

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.

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 *******


Trygve Roberts
Editor

Thought for the new year: “Take risks. If you win you will be happy. If you loose, you will be wise.”

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Mountain Passes South Africa

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.
 

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Master Orientation Map 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.

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