Walking in #ebolafree Gambia, West Africa

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HJF, The Gambia coastline – image © Jason Florio


Jason and I have just completed our Gambia coastline walk and what a truly lovely experience it was; albeit mighty humid – an average of 90% humidity every day. ‘Mad dogs and English (wo)men…’ kept springing to mind. Even now, as I sit here typing in the relative coolness of our house, my fingers feel as if they sticking to the keyboard.

The story was assigned by an airline inflight magazine. So,  unfortunately,  until they publish itwe can’t really say too much about the walk. However, we can share a few images from along the way – most of Jason’s however we’ll have to hold back on until the photo editor decides what they want to use.

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We’ll be posting more images over the coming days, so please stop by again. You may also like to check out our floriotravels Instagram and Photostellstories FB pages + ‘A Short Walk in the Gambian Bush - 930km Africa odyssey‘ which we completed in 2009


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Our little companions during our walk around Jinack Island © HJF


The Florios - Helen and Jason




Gambia coastline walk: 1st Stop – an island paradise – Jinack Island, The Gambia, West Africa

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Walking boots and birkenstocks – 1st stop Jinack Island, Gambia. Image © HJF

Day One – Jinack Lodge, Jinack Island It has begun,  our 80km walk along the Gambian coastline. We’ll be updating images  – connection allowing – onto our floriotravels instagram page. The stories will come later…


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The approach to Jinack Island from the mainland, Gambia, West Africa – image © JF


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HJF at the helm –  pirogue from the mainland to Jinack Island, The Gambia, West Africa – image © JF


Jinack Lodge sea view
A bar with a view – Jinack Lodge, Jinack Island, The Gambia, West Africa – image © HJF


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There’s beauty in that there erosion – Jinack Island, The Gambia, West Africa – image © JF


After an hours undulating pirogue ride – in the surging, swelling (and downright petrifying at times), waters of the Atlantic Ocean – from the island,  we landed back on mainland terra firma to begin our first day of walking: miles walked to-date – 13.5km / temperature – 31°C/humidity 74%. Hot, hot, hot!

Huge gratitude to Devon, Amadou, and all at Jinack Lodge (the cook, Binta’s, chicken yassa is delicious!), for their gracious hospitality. And the Jinack Islanders, for making us feel most welcome indeed. A sublime, and mystical (more on that at a later date), place. We only wish we’d had more time to enjoy the beauty and tranquility of the island. Next time… .


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Jinack Lodge overlooking the Atlantic Ocean, Jinack Island, The Gambia, West Africa – image by HJF


More walking news coming soon. In the meantime, please check our floriotravels instagram page for image updates. The Florios – Helen & Jason

Press: B There Magazine – Hitchhiking the Gambian Way

Words by Jason Florio for B There Magazine – October 2014 – illustration of Jason (sans beard!) and Helen in ‘the whale’ . Instagram image © Helen Jones-Florio


On route, via Brussels Airlines, back down to The Gambia the other day, Jason was leafing through their new October inflight magazine, B There (a bi-monthly which covers the sub-Saharan African network) and came across the piece he wrote for them about our escapades of picking up hitchhikers in Gambia – a commonplace, and the cheapest, way to travel for a lot of people all over the country.

In the early days we clutched the steering wheel and pressed the
accelerator, staring forward and pretending we didn’t notice the hitchhikers. After all, an unhealthy diet of American slasher movies had taught us the consequential horrors of allowing a stranger on to your backseat.’ ‘Without a Hitch‘ by Jason Florio for B There Magazine

A BIG thank you to our dear friends, Maurice and Geri Phillips, of Sandele Eco Retreat, The Gambia – if it were not for them loaning us ‘the whale’ we wouldn’t have had half the fun of picking up random strangers from the side of the road in the small West African country.

We’ll be working more with Brussels Airlines for their sister bi-monthly inflight magazine, B Spirit, very shortly – again, in The Gambia – which will involve walking and beaches.

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‘His and hers’ – Instagram image © Helen Jones-Florio


More news on that soon… .

In the meantime, please feel free to subscribe for the odd update with some nice photographs – or ‘like‘ us on FB and ‘follow‘ us on Twitter.

The Florios - Helen & Jason

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The Florios – Alliance Française de Banjul, The Gambia

Walking boots and Birkenstocks – heading back to The Gambia, West Africa

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© Jason Florio – River Gambia Expedition


Jason and I are preparing to head back down to The Gambia next week. After a sojourn in the UK (and a flying visit back home to NYC), our first assignment back on West African soil, for a feature article, is to walk the 80km coastline of The Gambia. So, it’s time to lace up our sorely neglected walking boots – or, my case, polish off my old Birkenstocks – hey, if I can walk 930km around the small West African country, I’ll be virtually sprinting 80km.

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A Short Walk in the Gambian Bush – 930km African odyssey’ – Jason Florio & Helen Jones-Florio (wearing her Birks!) with Dadi Bah, alkalo of Tuba Dabbo village


Although we’ll be treading some familiar ground – and no doubt seeing some familiar faces along the way – but we’re excited about exploring parts of the coastline we haven’t done so before.

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© Jason Florio - walking the dogs, Cape Point, The Gambia, West Africa


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© Jason Florio - Ghana Town, The Gambia, West Africa


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© Jason Florio – Helen, heads for the beach, Sanementereng, The Gambia, West Africa


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© Jason Florio – The Little Mosque, Sanementereng, The Gambia, West Africa


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© Jason Florio – walking the dogs, Ghana Town, The Gambia, West Africa


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© Helen Jones-Florio – Boy on his bike, Ghana Town, The Gambia, West Africa


To find out about our previous 2009 Gambia walk, please go to ‘A Short Walk in the Gambian Bush – 930km African odyssey‘ and you can check out Jason’s award-winning images of Gambian village chiefs and elders, from that walk, on his website: ‘Silafando – a gift to you on behalf of my journey‘.

Please stop by again soon. Or you can ‘like’ us on facebook and follow us on twitter.

More soon…

The Florios – Helen & Jason

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Boots n Birks © Helen Jones-Florio



Slideshow: behind the scenes of the River Gambia Expedition -1044km source to sea African odyssey

In early December, 2012 – mid-January, 2013, we followed the course of one of Africa’s last major free-flowing rivers – the River Gambia. Along the way, Jason documented the everyday life of those people who’s lives depend on the river.

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Image © Jason Florio - gold miners in the River Gambia, Senegal


From the source of the of the river – in the Fouta Djallon Highlands of Guinea-Conakry, through the riverside goldmines of south west Senegal, on into The Republic of The Gambia itself, where the river meets the Atlantic Ocean – we had an incredible journey, discovering the regions that we passed through; including dodging hippos and hair raising moto-taxi rides with stoned bikers! Welcome to behind the scenes of our River Gambia travels…

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We hope you enjoyed the ride. You may also like to check out our Floriotravels Youtube page, where you can see snippets of our journey in motion.

Updates coming soon on our pending travels, back down to West Africa

The Florios – Helen & Jason

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‘Musa with Rescued Patas Monkey’ – print donated to Critical Exposure fundraising auction

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For the last couple of years we have been asked to donate prints to Critical Exposure – for their Picture Equality fundraising auction; to which we have readily agreed to. It’s such a good cause, which helps to raise thousands of dollars.

Critical Exposure teaches youth to use the power of photography and their own voices to become effective advocates for school reform and social change.’ About Critical Exposure

This year, Jason donated ‘Musa with Rescued Patas Monkey‘ – an image from his ‘River Gambia‘ body of work, which he took whilst we were on our ‘River Gambia Expedition – 1044km source-sea African odyssey‘.

This is Critical Exposure’s 10th Anniversary and last year they raised over $30,000 for their programs, to help empower youth through the medium of photography – which falls in with the ethos of what we are endeavoring to achieve with our ‘Photos Tell Stories: teaching photography – a visual language‘ workshops; we held the inaugural workshop in The Gambia, West Africa, earlier this year.

Please help spread the word, to make 2014’s auction an even bigger success – you can even bid for Jason’s print or for donated prints from other photographers, including Ed Kashi, Ami Vitale, and National Geographic.

More news on our travels and work coming soon.

The Florios – Helen & Jason

Helen Jones=Florio & Jason Florio
Helen Jones=Florio & Jason Florio



Incoming! Photoville 2014, NYC – a photo destination – exhibitions in shipping containers

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‘River Gambia’ exhibition – Photoville 2013


We are already missing being physically present at Photoville this year. The phenomenal Brooklyn based unique photo destination is, to date, one of the most enjoyable exhibitions we have ever done . We were astonished at the volume of people who passed through our exhibition shipping container doors over the course of PV 2013 – 1000’s of people, who may otherwise never have seen the body of work we exhibited.

We exhibited Jason’s images from our ‘River Gambia Expedition - 1044km source-sea African odyssey‘ – thanks also to our partners, VQR) – along with a short film (from hours of footage we both shot on the route) about the River Gambia journey.

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Youtube: ‘River Gambia’ © Jason Florio & Helen Jones-Florio




'Silafando' The Gambia © Jason Florio
Above images © Jason Florio – ‘River Gambia’


Photoville, Pier 5, Brooklyn Bridge Park, September 18 – 28, 2014

Photoville has yet another stellar cast of photographers exhibiting at this years event – last years had over 50 shipping container exhibitions! – and a multitude of workshops and panel discussions, including:

La Frontera:With this long term project I document cultural activities in what used to be some of the worlds most dangerous cities along the US/Mexican border. Since 2008 I photographed 180 artists along the entire 2000 miles long divide to show the vibrant cultural side of a region that is usually portrayed by the international media with the sole focus on violent crime... .’ Stefan Falke

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Image © and courtesy of Stefan Falke – ‘La Frontera’


Personal Projects, Long Term Commitments - panel discussion with *Julie Grahame/aCurator & Stella Kramer/Stellazine: ‘Meet three photographers who are successfully executing personal projects. Marvi Lacar will talk about her project concerning mental illness, Andi Schreiber will talk about her series “Pretty, Please,” exploring middle-age in a youth-obsessed culture, and Catherine Chalmers looks at bugs, most recently working with leaf cutter ants in Costa Rica. They will present their work, discuss the long-term commitments involved and take questions afterwards.’

*Julie and Stella – a formidable duo – are  the best at what they do (individually and together). Therefore, if you need to book for this panel, book it now!

Iraqi Detainees – ordinary people, extraordinary ordeals – Chris Bartlett: ‘Beautiful and humanizing portraits of Iraqi former detainees who were arrested, tortured and released without charges in the first years of the war.’

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Image © and courtesy of  Chris Barlett – The Detainee Project


There are many, many more incredible exhibitions and talks in the PV 2014 program – we could list them all! However, why not click over to their website and check it out for yourself: Photoville Exhibitions. You can then click through to the various sections for the workshops, panels, and so on.

Although we have been enviously watching, from across the Atlantic,  the preparations unfold towards this years PV opening (Sept 18th), and although we can’t be there in person, we will be there – in spirit or should that be, print.  We were/are extremely flattered when the wonderfully energetic, organised, and truly inspiring PV team (especially founders: Sam, Laura, and Dave), asked us to exhibit the ‘River Gambia‘ images on the NY Waterway’s East River Ferry – as part of a series of exhibitions from various photographers. We believe our exhibition will run sometime in early October, for 3-4 weeks. We’ll keep you posted on that, as and when it happens.

horses river

Images © Jason Florio


Thanks Photoville guys – big love! And, to everyone involved in or going to this years event – have a blast and enjoy, enjoy, enjoy, be truly inspired, wander amongst 1000’s like-minded souls, and take in this exceptional view!

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Good morning Photoville! The view from our River Gambia exhibition shipping container – PV 2013. Image © Helen Jones-Florio


And… don’t forget your camera!

Covetously yours,

The Florios - Helen & Jason

The Florios, Photoville 2013 – image © Chris Bartlett



The History Boys – The Nile Explorers: Speke, Wood, Baker

Nile explorer decendents
L-R: Tom Mayberry, Peter Speke, Levison Wood, David Baker – image by Jason Florio

The Nile Explorers – Bath Royal Literary & Scientific Institution (BRSLI), Bath, Somerset.

Yesterday (with huge thanks to writer, explorer, and photographer, Levison Wood) we Florios were honored to be in the midst of such esteemed – and truly inspirational – company to commemorate the 150 year anniversary of an encounter between (Nile explorers) Captains Sir Richard Francis Burton and John Hanning Speke, in the Royal Mineral Water Hospital, Bath, 15th September, 1864.


Over the space of a few (all too) short hours, we sat and listened to superb narrative – facts and anecdotes, richly woven together – from, amongst others, descendents of the above mentioned (who themselves have gone on to become 21st Century African explorers in their own right), highly acclaimed explorers of the 19th Century.

Levison Wood talks about ‘Walking the Nile’ – image by Jason Florio

We also got a chance to listen to Levison Wood, give a synopsis of  ‘Walking the Nile‘ – he very recently completed an astonishing 3750 miles walk of the length of the mighty river. It was all too brief… I’m certain Lev could have easily filled the whole afternoon, regaling the audience with tales (and great images) about his incredible journey. Alas, we will have to wait until 2015, when the documentary series of his epic walk is aired on C4.

The Royal Hotel, Bath – where Captain Sir Richard Burton laid his head, in preparation for the much publicized reunion with John Hanning Speke. Image © Jason Florio

Yesterday’s vicarious immersion into great explorers, past and present, has our adventure juices well and truly whetted.

Thanks again to Lev Wood  and to Jane Sparrow, BRLSI Geography & Adventure Group, for extending the invite.

As for our humble foray into the world of exploration, you may like to check out ‘River Gambia Expedition-1044km source-sea African odyssey‘ and ‘A Short Walk in the Gambian Bush – 930km African odyssey‘.

Now, where will our next adventure take us? Watch this space…

The Florios – Helen & Jason

Jason Florio, Levison Wood, Matthew Power (R.I.P.) – Uganda, East Africa, 2014. Image by Boston (Woka) Beka

In remembrance of Matthew Power:  In March this year – whilst Lev was walking through Uganda – Jason, along with our friend and writer, Matthew Power, joined him for what would transpire to be a truly tragic few days.

Matt, you are missed… x H&J

River Gambia… photo stories

The River Gambia Expedition – 1044km source-sea African odyssey

Tales from a mighty West African river…

'River Gambia' the source, Fouta Djallon Highlands - VQR Magazine  © Jason Florio
River Gambia‘ the source, Fouta Djallon Highlands, Guinea-Conakry – VQR Magazine © Jason Florio


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Image © Jason Florio
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The shot… Jason Florio at work. Image © Helen Jones-Florio


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HJF, Ebou & Abdou at work! River Gambia, Senegal, West Africa © Jason Florio


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Florio at work – River Gambia, Kuntaur, The Gambia, West Africa. Image © Helen Jones-Florio


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Samba Fishing © Jason Florio River Gambia, Kuntaur, The Gambia, West Africa


Geographical Magazine - Image © Jason Florio


'River Gambia' The Gambia © Jason Florio
Boy with Mask © Jason Florio


To read (and see) more about our River Gambia journey, please visit rivergambiaexpedition.com

The Florios - Helen & Jason

H & Flo - we did it!
Mission accomplished! The Gambia, January 2013

9/11 – Remembering

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Image © Jason Florio – 9/11, NYC

Rewind to: 11th Sept 2001 – I remember being on the #52 bus on the way home, from Nottinghill Gate to Kensal Rise, in London,UK, when I received a phone call from a friend to tell me the staggering news of what was unfolding in New York City – the first tower had just gone down. Little did we know as we watched the news back to back well into the night – until a mutual friend told us the next day – that Jason had been down at the World Trade Center as the towers fell. Thankfully, he is still around to tell the story. His recounting of the hours he spent down there, and seeing his photos, still make the hairs on the back of my neck stand up. Some years later…

… Jason and I  walked out of our apartment building, off 6th Avenue, NYC, and retraced his route downtown… following the exact path he took, as he ran towards the World Trade Center (as most people were running away from it) on a truly tragic, seminal, day: September 11th, 2001.

Jason photographed, ‘9/11 Redux‘, the same locations that he had shot on ‘9/11/2001‘ – a confluence of two contrasting periods in time… yet, not altogether dissimilar…

All images © Jason Florio

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2012: Patricia Mack with Jason and the photograph he took of her on 9/11 outside Trinity Church, Broadway, NYC – Image by Neville Elder


June 2012: ‘Captain Patricia (Patty) Mack – pictured above – is a retired New York Courts Officer. In 2001, her being a first sponsor – along with her husband Tim – comes with special meaning. I photographed her on September 11th 2001, just a few minutes after she appeared from the rubble of the collapse of the World Trade Center’s south tower. We had not communicated since that life changing time, but we were recently re-acquainted when she kindly agreed to be in the documentary I have been working on with my colleague, Neville Elder about our experiences photographing that tragic dayJason Florio - See more on Vimeo: ‘Return to Ground Zero’ (currently in post-production).

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Vimeo: ‘Return to Ground Zero‘ – click here to view (image ©Jason Florio)


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To view then and now: ‘New York City 09.11.2001‘ & ‘9.11 Redux

In remembrance to all those who lost their lives on September 11th, 2001.

Jason & Helen Florio

photography workshops, travel, and more…


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