Photo of the Day: Fishing off Jinack Island, The Gambia, West Africa

Screen Shot 2015-07-10 at 2.47.34 PM
Image © Helen Jones-Florio – Jinack Island, River Gambia Estuary, The Gambia, West Africa

 

Taken whilst on assignment for B-Spirit (Brussels Airlines, inflight magazine) – Walking the entire coastline of The Gambia, with photographer,  Jason Florio

HJF

Advertisements

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

Screen Shot 2014-10-13 at 9.52.15 AM
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…

 

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

 

HJF_pirogue Jinack
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

 

Tree in the sea
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… .

 

Jinack lodge sign sea
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

International Women’s Day 2018

Silafando portraits - Female village chief, Fatou Dansu, of Kabba Kama, Gambia ©Jason Florio
The village chief (‘alkalo’), Fatou Dansu, of Kabba Kama, Gambia ©Jason Florio. We met and stayed with Fatou in 2009  (she was, at that time, one of only 5 female chiefs in the Gambia) – a strong advocate in the fight to eradicate FGM (female genital mutilation)

 

International Women’s Day 2018

Celebrating just a few of the incredibly inspiring women we have met, over the years, and photographed on our travels, and photography assignments.

 

Human rights lawyers, with their client, Jugana Suso: L-R: Hawa Sisay Sabally, Rachel Yvonne Mendy, Juguna Suso, Yassin Sanghor © Helen Jones-Florio (2nd Camera)
Human rights lawyers, with their client, Jugana Suso: L-R: Hawa Sisay Sabally, Rachel Yvonne Mendy, Juguna Suso, Yassin Sanghor © Helen Jones-Florio (2nd Camera on ‘We Never Gave Up – stories of courage in Gambia‘)

 

Selam Tsfay from Eritrea rescued from a wooden boat carrying 369 people - portrait ©Jason Florio
Selam Tsfay from Eritrea rescued from a wooden boat carrying 369 people ©Jason Florio – ‘Destination Europe: out at sea

 

A village soap production collective in Ghana helping local women support their families ©Jason Florio for United Purpose, NGO
A village soap production collective in Ghana helping local women support their families ©Jason Florio for United Purpose, NGO

 

Sonia Pierre -Executive Director of the human rights organization, the Movement for Dominico-Haitian Women (Movimiento de Mujeres Dominico-Haitianas, MUDHA) © Jason Florio
The late Sonia (Solange) Pierre –Executive Director of the human rights organization, the Movement for Dominico-Haitian Women (Movimiento de Mujeres Dominico-Haitians, MUDHA) © Jason Florio

 

Ladies from the Santa Yalla kaffo - a collective that harvests rice for a landowner near River Gambia at Kaur. The earn 30 dalasis a day - 80 US cents ©Jason Florio
Ladies from the Santa Yalla kaffo – in the rice fields, Kaur, Gambia ©Jason Florio

 

January 2013: Kaur, The Gambia, West Africa. Members of the Santa Yalla kaffo (group) take a moment between harvesting rice from the fields, which are irrigated by the River Gambia. They are paid 30 Gambian Dalasis a day (80 US cents). River Gambia Expedition

Interviewing ex-Mile2 prisoner, Ngoi Njie, The Gambia, West Africa ©Helen Jones-Florio
Interviewing ex-Mile2 prisoner, Ngoi Njie, The Gambia, West Africa ©Helen Jones-Florio

 

And, not forgetting, all those young girls who keep me company, and make us smile and, very often, laugh out loud wherever we go in the world…we salute you, too.

Our constant companions, during our walk around Jinack Island, Gambia © Helen Jones-Florio
Our constant companions, during our walk around Jinack Island, Gambia © Helen Jones-Florio

 

Girls just wanna have fun, Kemoto Point, Gambia © Helen Jones-Florio
Girls just wanna have fun, Kemoto Point, Gambia © Helen Jones-Florio

The art of walking, and the people you meet along the way…

 

‘Dawn over Kalaji Bridge’ © Jason Florio – from ‘A Short Walk in the Gambian Bush – 930km African Odyssey‘
‘Dawn over Kalaji Bridge’ – Helen Jones-Florio and the team © Jason Florio – from ‘A Short Walk in the Gambian Bush – 930km African Odyssey

 

Wherever we are in the world, we walk, a lot, Florio and myself. As far as I’m concerned, it’s one of the only ways to truly discover a place – and the people who live there. One time, in 2009, we decided to walk around the small West African country of The Gambia. A mere 930km, with three Gambian friends, two donkeys (‘Neil’ & ‘Paddy’.), and a cart to carry our camping and photography equipment. As one does.

Along the way, we met many people and photographed quite a few of them. Amongst them, around 43 village chiefs and elders, the photos of which are now award-winning portraits, ‘Silafando – a gift to you on behalf of my journey

‘Silafando’ The Gambia  © Jason Florio

 

Another time, we took it upon ourselves to take a stroll along the coastline of The Gambia – a much shorter walk of around 80km. Again, we met and made friends with many people along the way.

Our constant companions, during our walk around Jinack Island, Gambia © Helen Jones-Florio
Our constant companions, during our walk around Jinack Island, Gambia © Helen Jones-Florio

 

Making friends, Jinack Island, the Gambia © Jason Florio
Making friends, Jinack Island, the Gambia © Jason Florio

 

Historian and local fisherman, Modou Sonko, Jinack Island, Gambia-image © Jason Florio
Historian and local fisherman, Modou Sonko, Jinack Island, Gambia-image © Jason Florio

 

And, our walks in certain places always seem to attract a good deal of attention

'Any chance of a bit of privacy?' Camping in a the village chiefs compound comes at a price ©Jason Florio
‘Any chance of a bit of privacy around here?’ Camping in the village chiefs compound comes at a price ©Jason Florio
Image: ©Jason Florio-2009 Gambian boy on his horse & farmer, on his bicycle, near the town of Basse, The Gambia, West Africa
Gambian boy on his horse & farmer, on his bicycle, near the town of Basse, The Gambia, West Africa Image: ©Jason Florio-2009
For some reason, we seem to attract dogs, wherever we go! Jason Florio and ‘Seven’ (from Footsteps Eco Lodge) talking to the cockle collectors, Gambia – image © Helen Jones-Florio

 

Of late, we’ve taken to meandering – going off-piste whenever possible – discovering the clifftops, valleys, and crevices of Malta.

Graffiti - President Trump and broken wall, Malta ©Jason Florio
Graffiti – President Trump, Malta ©Jason Florio

 

And, just when you think that you’ve seen all it has to offer, the small island in the middle of the Mediterranean (sandwiched somewhere between Sicily and the North African coast) never fails to reveal something more of itself.

Scenes from Malta - photography by Jason Florio & Helen Jones-Florio
Scenes from Malta – photography by Jason Florio & Helen Jones-Florio/Instagram

 

Victoria Lines, with Jason Florio
Walking the Victoria Lines, with Jason Florio – image © Helen Jones-Florio

Are we in Texas?!

Are we in Texas? Wind turbine, Malta © Helen Jones-Florio
Are we in Texas? Wind turbine, Malta © Helen Jones-Florio

 

Valletta, through a window © Jason Florio, Malta
Valletta, through a window © Jason Florio, Malta
Follow us on Instagram for regular travel photo updates
@floriotravels / @jasonflorio
These boots, and Birkenstocks, are made for walking
These boots, and Birkenstocks, are made for walking

Carpe Diem – life is quite frankly too bloody short!

Kids on Jinack Island
A moment in time – happy girls, Jinack Island, The Gambia, West Africa © Helen Jones-Florio

 

Life is full of surprises… sadly, not all of them good. Before you know what’s happening, without any warning, a curveball the size of a Hereford Bull hits you – WHUMPH! – and literally knocks you flat on your back and suddenly, holy cow, you can’t get up again! Which is exactly what has recently happened to very close family members (not by a big cow, mind you, but most definitely by a humongous curveball). Not surprisingly – and perhaps a touch self-serving – one begins to question one’s own mortality, how quickly time is racing ahead, and how much more there is to do in this lifetime.

The trouble is you think you have time”  Buddha

OR:

“Seize the day, bugger the ruminating, this life is quite frankly too bloody short!” Yours Truly

Sending positive energy and support to those I love dearly, who are going through what is the toughest challenge of their lives… and, without a doubt, more testing times are ahead for them.

HJF

 

Press: ‘The Spirit of the Seaside’ – walking along the coastline of The Gambia, West Africa

Screen Shot 2015-03-17 at 1.00.31 PM
Waiting for the boat over to Jinack Island, The Gambia – Image © Helen Jones-Florio

 

March-May 2015Wings Magazine/Arik Air

As my wife, Helen, and I set off on an 80km six-day ramble along the sun-soaked coast of The Gambia’s relatively short coastline, it’s not
merely the splendour of the coast and heat of the sun we are after but also its mystical heritage... ” read the whole feature here – words by Jason Florio / Images by Jason Florio & Helen Jones-Florio

ARIK WINGS_GAMBIA BEACH WALK
Images ©  Jason Florio & Helen Jones-Florio

 

The Gambia, West Africa – paying the price for being Ebola free

Screen Shot 2015-03-12 at 12.27.39 PM
Image © Helen Jones – Jinack Island, taken whilst walking the coastline of Gambia, with Jason Florio

 

Gambians, and local businesses, are hurting… and it’s not going to get better any time soon. Which is why I keep spouting on, annoyingly so perhaps, about Ebola-free Gambia! The beaches are deserted, the juice bars are abandoned, hotels and lodges are no where near the to capacity they should be by now (and need to be, if they are to survive), the bars and restaurants are empty; taxi drivers sit around in the shade all day and night, grateful for any trade they can get; the craft markets are too quiet – all of these places are places of work, for many, many Gambians, and business owners alike. All just waiting for the tourists to come...’ Helen Jones-Florio – read more here

Big thanks to NGO, Concern Universal, for featuring one of my recent blog posts on their site.

Helen Jones-Florio

HJF KIDS CAMERA_CASAMANCE1
HJF at the Koudioubé Festival des Forêts, Casamance, Senegal, for Concern Universal – image © Jason Florio

 

Bobbing along on the crest of a wave, whilst praying to the Gods of Undulation

JINACK_PIROGUES2_MG_0158
Getting the Jinack Lodge pirogue ready to embark on the crossing to Banjul Port. Image © Helen Jones-Florio

 

Sunday 12th October, 2014 – 9.30am, Jinack Island-Banjul, The Gambia

We clambered aboard what resembled a huge Canadian style canoe – which we were about to go way out into the Atlantic Ocean in, to our next destination, Banjul Port, as part of our walk along the Gambia coastline; “it is only perhaps 45 minutes“, our captain assures me, as he takes in my ashen pallor and white knuckles, as I grip the narrow wooden plank I’m sitting on, whilst trying to balance myself in the middle of the rocking boat. He hands out bright orange life jackets, which look suspiciously like the kind you get on an  airplane. It may only be a few miles, across to Banjul, but it’s still the bloody ocean, and, for someone who was born, and spent the first six years of her life, across the road from the North Sea, I have an irrational fear of wide open water. That, coupled with the fact that I nearly drowned in the Atlantic, whilst swimming, on one of my very early trips to The Gambia! However, that’s another story… .

Don’t get me wrong, I have a deep respect and fondness for the ocean and there are times when nothing is more satisfying  then sitting, looking out at an infinite, vast body of water, contemplating life, love, the universe… . I just don’t want to be bobbing around on what I class, in my mind, as the high seas, in relatively small, seemingly flimsy, wooden boat!

Pirogue crossing from Jinack Island, to main land Gambia
Leaving the tranquility of Jinack Island. Image © Jason Florio

 

_MG_0164
Grinning and bearing it! Taken just before we rounded the tip of Jinack Island and into the Atlantic Ocean. Image © Jason Florio

 

JINACK_PIROGUE_FLO_MG_0171
“So, what happens if we get into trouble when out at sea?” – Jason Florio. Image © Helen Jones-Florio

 

We didn’t exactly get off to a great start either, as the motor died a couple of times, due to lack of fuel, before we even reached the tip of Jinack Island, which would take us into the Atlantic proper. The plan was to stop and get fuel from one the three small villages, situated at the tip of the island, and which are officially in Senegalese waters – the island being bisected by the Senegal border.

Jinack Island, the Gambia
One of the three villages on the Senegal section of Jinack Island. Image © Jason Florio

 

Jinack (or ‘Ginack’ – ‘in front of the water’), is an exquisite narrow spit of  land, the furthest point North of The Gambia, ‘self-policed’, we were told, by the local villagers, all related in one way or another. Which is why, apparently, the island is so ‘peaceful’ – everyone knows everyone, thereby making it difficult to get away with anything remotely nefarious.  On one side, the balong and mangroves,  and the other side, white sandy beaches and the wide open waters of the Atlantic Ocean.

After picking up the fuel, knowing that we were about to head out to sea, leaving the gloriously calming waters of the balong behind, I hastily donned my life jacket, hoping it would make me feel somewhat secure. It didn’t. My shoulders, already stiff from the tension of gripping the plank I was sitting on, I keep my eyes dead ahead, on the horizon – hoping that it wasn’t just a myth – and that, in doing so, it would prevent me from the projectile disgorging of my recently ingested breakfast! I willed the shores of distant Banjul to come nearer. I comforted myself with the fact that It didn’t really look that far… did it? .

PIROGUE_SEA BOUND_MG_0196
Heading out to sea. Image © Helen Jones-Florio

 

Hang on… aren’t we going in the wrong direction?’, as the captain steered the pirogue out to sea – my words immediately carried away by the wind and, or, lost in the sound of the boat engine. Surely it would be quicker to head diagonally across, towards Banjul?! In my horizon view is the elderly steersman, standing up at the helm of the boat, in his bright orange life jacket, making a series of signals – pointing, or moving either arm up or down, whilst shaking his head, as if to say ‘no, keep straight ahead‘ – guiding the captain through the choppy waters. “There are many sandbanks, out here in the ocean“, Amadou, the manager from Jinack Lodge, tells me “see, where the water breaks?“. He didn’t need to expand on what would happen should we accidentally run aground on one.

JINACK_PIROGUE_SEA_FLO2_MG_0207
Captain Florio at your service! Image © Helen Jones-Florio

 

We had, on our previous River Gambia Expedition, experienced getting lodged on a sand bank in the middle of the river. Fortunately, the tide was low and we had been able to get out and drag our relatively light, rubberized, canoes to deeper water. Something we most certainly wouldn’t be able to do, with this huge hulk of solid wood, in the middle of the ocean!

Pirogue crossing from Jinack Island, to main land Gambia
A passing pirogue. Image © Jason Florio

 

They make this crossing two or three times a week – sometimes, daily, in the high season, to pick up guests and supplies – instantly becomes my mantra; as I continue to stare straight ahead, whilst trying hard to distract myself by thinking of other, more enjoyable, persuit’s.  Meanwhile, the pirogue rears up and down,  undulating over the waves, freezing salt water splashing my face and soaking my clothes .  Hey, look on the bright side, I think, if we are tipped overboard, I could always swim back to New York!  So much for distracting myself.

Pirogues unloading at Banjul.
Arrival at Banjul Port. Image © Jason Florio

 

So, Amadou, in the worst case scenario, such as running out of fuel...” No! Jason voices exactly what my mind is trying hard not to focus on, as if by doing so, it would be somehow karmic once the words were out there in the universe. But, I do want, need, to know.  “We call for another boat” Amadou casually replies . “We can almost always get a phone signal out here“,  looking pointedly at me, he reassures. “Or, we sit and wait for another boat to pass by“. Fortunately, the waters are fished twice daily, so passing pirogues aren’t that few and far between, in the morning and late afternoon, at least. However, I’m not sure how long it would take for help to reach us if we were to be toppled overboard. Cellphones and (salt) water aren’t particularly well-matched.

JINACK_PIROGUE_MAN_BANJUL_MG_0212
Our trusty steersman. Image © Helen Jones-Florio

 

Jason checks his phone credit, and battery charge, before dropping his cellphone into a waterproof bag (courtesy of Overboard, who supported the River Gambia journey), and attaching it to his belt with a carabiner. Ever the master of a contingency plan, is Mr Florio – thankfully.

There was a moment, midway into the crossing, when I realised I could perhaps relax somewhat, as the steersman – who I had been scrutinizing, just as closely as I did flight attendants (watching for any tiny muscle twitch, in their outwardly perfect composure, when  the plane suddenly hits a pocket of turbulence, which might indicate the need to grab the life jacket beneath my seat!), ceased gesticulating and proceeded to sprawl across the helm, before seemingly falling asleep!

Jason Florio arrival at Banjul from Jinack island by Pirogue
Back on solid ground, Banjul Port. Image © Helen Jones-Florio

 

Clearly, we reached Banjul without any high seas drama (aside from the one that was going on in my head during the entire crossing!), in just under and hour; which felt more like four to me, as I uncurled each stiff finger from the plank I’d been clenching.

That day, I conquered a fear. However, that’s not to say that I would be in any great hurry to do that particular journey again!

Helen Jones-Florio (with Jason Florio)

 

_MG_0814
Yours truly – Walking the coastline The Gambia. Image © Jason Florio

 

Related post: Gambia Beachcombers

Walking along the beaches of #Ebolafree Gambia – come on down, the water’s fine!

Jinack Island, the Gambia
Rounding the Southern most tip of Jinack Island, in the Atlantic Ocean – where, at this point you in Senegal. Image © Jason Florio

 

If you have been following the blog, then you’ll know that Jason and I recently completed a 80km walk along the coastline of The Gambia, West Africa – from the Senegalese border in the North, Jinack Island, to Senegalese border in the South, Kartong. It was featured in January’s B.Spirit Magazine/ Brussels Airlines – you can read all about the walk here: ‘Gambian Beachcombers‘.

Obviously, as with any editorial, space for text and images is limited. Yet, we have so many more images to share, which we took along the way,  that we hope portray just how beautiful, and diverse, the Gambia coastline is.

Fajara beach
Fajara Beach, down from Ngala Lodge. Image © Jason Florio

 

However, this post is not all about splendid images (hey, call me biased) – although, I do rather hope they help to paint a picture pretty enough to entice tourists and travellers alike to come to ‘The Smiling Coast‘ of Ebola-free Gambia – Ebola-free being the operative words here, and the thread that holds this post together.  Since the outbreak of the deadly epidemic,  in just a few pockets of West Africa, the tourists have stopped coming – at least nowhere near the numbers they normally come – and some of the airlines have stopped flying here when, all said and done, there really is no need not to come (but then, if flights are empty because of tourists being fearful to travel… catch 22).

Kids on Jinack Island
Jinack Island (where to stay: Jinack Lodge). Image © Helen Jones-Florio

 

Many  Gambian’s depend on the annual tourist season – particularly around the coastal areas, the beaches, where we live. An old friend,  of mine, Buba who I have known since my first trip down here in 1997 – a taxi driver  (and one of the most reliable, honest, and knowledgeable taxi drivers one could ever recommend – he even gets a mention in the feature) – explained to me the other day about how, during the low season, like thousands of other Gambians, he farms his land. It’s also when the main package tour operators cease to  fly to The Gambia, and only the intrepid travelers venture down  here, those not afraid of a bit of rain, and outstanding thunder storms.  Buba – and many of his friends – will often loan a little money, here and there, to help him through the down time, when there are no tourists to pick up and ferry around. He does this, secure in the knowledge that once the high season starts again, the can repay his debts. Alas, this year’s lack of tourism trade has put paid to that…

Smile Gambia Beach Bar at Ghana Town fishing village
‘Smile’ Gambia beach bar, a locally owned business in  Ghana Town (where to stay: Leo’s Beach Hotel and Restaurant). Image © Jason Florio

 

…resulting in unpaid debts for many. And, because Buba has so very few tourists to pick up now, he will have no choice but to borrow more to make sure his family are cared for, schools fees are paid, and so on. Obviously, he is not alone in this. Debts will spiral and who knows when the tourists will start to come again. Even if they came in droves tomorrow, it probably won’t make up for the lost few months, since the high season should have kicked in, in November last year.

Cockle collectors near Gunjur
Cockle collector, near Gunjur fishing village (where to stay – The White Horse Residence or Footsteps Eco Lodge). Image © Jason Florio

 

Suffice to say,  Gambians, and local businesses, are hurting… and it’s not going to get better any time soon. Which is why I keep spouting on, annoyingly so perhaps,  about Ebola-free Gambia! The beaches are deserted, the juice bars are abandoned, hotels and lodges are no where near the to capacity they should be by now (and need to be, if they are to survive), the bars and restaurants are empty; taxi drivers sit around in the shade all day and night, grateful for any trade they can get; the craft markets are too quiet –  all of these places are places of work, for many, many Gambians, and business owners alike. All just waiting for the tourists to come.

Jinack Island, the Gambia
Jinack Island. Image © Jason Florio

 

We have many friends who run hotels, lodges, and restaurants. All of them struggling to retain all their staff, none of them wanting to let anyone go, because they know the consequences –  if they let just one member of staff go, a whole family, and more, will suffer. One person working, receiving a regular wage, often feeds not just their immediate family but also their extended family, who live in the same compound. Unfortunately, it’s that catch 22 situation again, if businesses don’t bring in the revenue, then how can staff be paid, when there are all the other costs of running a hotel, bar, restaurant, purely in order not to have it close its doors? Regrettably, in some instances, this has already happened. As Jason and I  drive around the tourist areas, we see restaurants, bars, and hotels, normally buzzing with activity at this time of year, with clients and guests alike, deserted  and locked up – bar a lone watchman, sitting outside.

Footsteps dog '7' near Gunjur
Twitchers paradise! There are over 500 species of birds in The Gambia. On the way to Kartong, with ‘Seven’ dog from Footsteps! (where to stay: Nemasu Eco Lodge or Sandele Eco Retreat). Image © Jason Florio

 

As mentioned, I’ve been coming down here  for many years – and in recent years, with Jason (he has also been traveling down here, independently, for just as long as I have, working on a long term project ‘Makasutu‘). But, as a woman,  it’s one of the few places in the world where I feel utterly safe, walking around alone. Okey, yes, The Gambia is well-known for its bumsters – those guys who hassle you on the beaches, ‘Boss lady, what is your name, where are you from‘, follow you along the street, looking to guide you, trying to find any which way to ingratiate themselves with you. They certainly have the patter down. We often joke, when you hear them all spouting the same lines again and again,  about how there must be a ‘Bumster School’ somewhere in The Gambia . But, it’s really no different from most any other country in the world, where tourism thrives, that you will find variations of this kind of mentality (and who are we to blame them, when seemingly, we ‘toubabs‘ have everything?). However,  on the whole, the bumsters are a pretty harmless bunch, and much fewer and far between around most of the rest of the country. Besides, if you really want to escape them, it’s not that difficult, just head down the beach a mile or so  – they don’t tend to stray too far from the masses, where the pickings have the potential to be more plentiful!

Nemasu eco lodge, Gunjur
The view from Nemasu Eco Lodge, Madina Salaam. Image © Jason Florio

 

A friend from the UK visited recently, for the first time, despite her friends and family recapitulating monotonously: ‘but what about Ebola?!‘. (we know exactly how she feels, as we get it from family and friends constantly).

I originally came to Gambia after so many friends or people I met came back from holidaying or travelling there and all had only positive things to report.  Many return year on year and having just spent 13 days there myself, I will without doubt be returning again and again to continue exploring this beautiful country in West Africa and beyond. Such an amazing blend of cultures, sunshine, great food, beaches and nature‘ Bee, Surrey, UK

Thankfully, Bee has travelled, she did her research and concluded, rightly so, that although it was West Africa she was coming to, The Gambia is EBOLA-FREE! And,  next time  she wants to bring her young son.  Hurrah!, and thanks from us here in The Gambia,  for those who do their homework and are not deterred, despite the negative media coverage!

Boys from Sambuyang village near Gunjur
Messing about in the surf, Gunjur to Kartong beach. Image © Jason Florio

 

There are many beautiful places to stay, along the coastline (cue The Travel Show intro music).

_MG_0652
The White Horse Residence, Batakunku. Image © Jason Florio

 

 

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

This, the smallest of mainland West African countries has so very much to offer (I really am starting to sound like an infomercial!). And, yes, it is West Africa but, please, just look at a map, notice the distances, the borders in between, from the Ebola-stricken countries, and do your homework (WHO is a good place to start, for facts) – i.e. don’t just listen to scare-mongering news. It’s already beginning to sound like a cliché, but would you stop going to Spain,  Scotland, or the USA, because there are/have been confirmed cases there? You get my drift?

DOGS_BEACH_CPIMG_9875
Another beautiful sunrise over Cape Point Beach, walking the dogs – sublime. Image © Helen Jones-Florio

 

So, come on down, the water is fine (although a wee bit fresh at this time of year) and you may well have a whole beach to yourself.  We’ll be happy to shout you a Julebrew!

Helen Jones-Florio

HJF coffe break
Image © Jason Florio

 

You may like to check out what has been bringing us back to The Gambia, time and time again: ‘A Short Walk in the Gambian Bush – 930km African odyssey‘; ‘River Gambia Expedition – 1044km source-sea African odyssey‘; ‘Traditional Masquerades

Press: Gambian Beachcombers – walking the coastline of The Gambia, West Africa

Walking Gambia coastline_Brussels Airlines
Image © Jason Florio – B Spirit Magazine

Our first press of 2015 – ‘Gambian Beachcombers’, a feature for B.Spirit Magazine (Brussels Airlines) has just come out.

Screen Shot 2015-01-07 at 11.48.27 AM
Read more here

 

A few months ago, Jason and I went out for a leisurely stroll and proceeded to walk the 80km coastline of The Gambia, West Africa. We started on Jinack Island, the farthest point North, and the ended in Kartong, the furthest point South.  Along the way, we visited some of The Gambia’s sacred sites – such as the small mosque in Sannementaring – before staying overnight in various eco lodges, dotted along the coastline, at the end of each days walk.

We also stopped to talk to many people we met along the way – fishermen, juice sellers, and cockle collectors – and yet still managed to walk for miles with only nature and the Atlantic Ocean as our guides. We were in no particular hurry, making it a  wonderful, and enlightening, experience, as we ambled along The Gambia’s soft white sand coastline – one that many of us could easily do. And, what a great way to experience the tiny West African country. Read the story here.

Walking2_Brussels Airlines
Images © Jason Florio

 

We would like to extend a huge thank you to all the eco lodges, who very generously hosted us – and fed us incredible food! – Jinack Lodge, Ngala Lodge, Leo’s Beach Hotel and Restaurant, The White Horse Residence, Footsteps Eco Lodge, and Sandele Eco Retreat . Also, a BIG thank you to old friend and taxi driver, Buba, who helped make our journey a much lighter adventure – by his daily picking up and dropping off of our backpacks to each lodge. Abaraka baci, Buba! (by the way, his number is listed in the feature, for those of you coming to Gambia (or already here) who need an extremely reliable and knowledgeable taxi driver.

Sacred sites/walking the coastline of Gambia (for Brussels Airlines 'BSpirit' Magazine) - Image ©Helen Jones-Florio
Image ©Helen Jones-FlorioJason Florio and a young boy who joined in to walk a short distance with us in Gunjur,

 

We hope you enjoy the journey too. The Florios – Helen & Jason

SELFIE_HJF-JF IMG_8242
‘Selfie’! Helen Jones-Florio & Jason Florio – taken whilst walking the Gambia coastline

Related posts: Walking the coastline of The Gambia