River Gambia Expedition – featured in Safari254

SAFARI254 – The source of the River Gambia, Fouta Djallon Highlands, Guinea-Conakry ©Jason Florio

My wife, Helen Jones-Florio, and I co-led the first recorded source-to-sea expedition along the length of River Gambia, from its humble source in the remote highlands of Guinea-Conakry, through Senegal and into The Gambia where it widens to nearly 14km and exits into the Atlantic Ocean. We teamed up with two old Gambian friends, Abdou Ndong a fisherman and Ebou Jarju a school teacher, as our river guide and translator… Jason Florio / Safari254.com

SAFARI254 – A team punt a raft carrying a water pump that will be used to irrigate banana plantations that flank the river banks in Senegal © Jason Florio

The expedition took two months to cover the 1044km from source-to-sea…

SAFARI254 Expedition team member Abdou Ndong keeps an eye out for hippos in Senegal.© Jason Florio

The River Gambia – source to sea map ©Jason Florio

Read the full feature – see more images – at Safari254.com 

We made it! The River Gambia Expedition team reach the Atlantic Ocean (on Jason’s birthday!), The Gambia, West Africa, Jan 21st, 2013

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March-April 2019 – Currently working on

Gambia – Victims, and Resisters of a Regime‘ in The Gambia, West Africa

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#ThrowBackMonday – Behind the scenes : Jason Florio’s portrait of ‘Samba Fishing’ – River Gambia, West Africa

‘Samba Fishing’, Kuntaur, River Gambia ©Jason Florio 

 

During our time canoeing the length of the River Gambia, on our exploration of the people whose livelihoods depend on the river, we spent each night wild camping on the river bank – whether it be camping on a sandbank in the middle of the river (burning a fire all night long to deter the hippos!), on rocky outcrops miles from the nearest village and, at other times, on the edge of a village, if it was near enough to the river.

Jason Florio photographs Samba, a young fisherman, in Kuntaur, whilst on the River Gambia Expedition. Image © Helen Jones-Florio
Jason Florio photographs Samba, a young fisherman, River Gambia © Helen Jones-Florio.

 

On this particular day, we arrived mid-afternoon into the village of Kuntaur, situated on the banks of the river. We had stayed in the village before, whilst on our 2009 ‘A Short Walk in the Gambian Bush‘. We set up our campsite in the grounds of a small riverbank lodge and, as had become the norm, our arrival instantly attracted hordes of local kids – shouting and screaming, all vying for our attention, fascinated with our tents and equipment – before the caretaker of the lodge shooed them away, “atchayah! atchayah!” (go away, get lost! A Mandinka word Gambians use to scatter mischievous kids and the scores of scavenging bush dogs alike!).

'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?’ Helen – Camping in the village chiefs compound comes at a price ©Jason Florio.

 

As we were about to settle down for a well-deserved cup of tea, having paddled almost 33km that day – a tough, exhausting 10km of it against the tide – we noticed a young boy, out on the river, in a local pirogue that looked far too big for him to handle on his own. We called him over and he paddled towards us with such ease and dexterity, as if he was steering a small rubber dinghy and not a heavy wooden dugout canoe, carved from a tree trunk.

His name was Samba and he said that he was ‘11 or 12 years old‘ (it’s not unusual, in this part of the world, for people not knowing exactly how old they are). He had come straight from school, to pull in his families fishing nets from the river, to see what catch they had that day…‘ Exert/words ©Helen Jones-Florio – read more at ‘River Gambia Expedition – 1044km source-sea African odyssey

'Samba Fishing' River Gambia, fine art photography prints © Jason Florio '
‘Samba Fishing’ fine art photography prints © Jason Florio ‘

 

Jason Florio’s fine art photography prints – available from helenjonesflorio.com

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ThrowbackWednesday: Moto-taxi rides down the mountains of the Fouta Djallon, River Gambia Expedition

River Gambia Expedition: Moto Taxi rider, Ebu, Mali Ville, Fouta Djallon Highlands, Guinea-Conakry © Jason Florio
Moto Taxi rider, Ebu, Mali Ville, Fouta Djallon Highlands, Guinea-Conakry © Jason Florio

 

‘”It will be cheaper than taking the vehicle!” said Florio – pulling at our over-stretched  budget purse-strings – that clinched the deal!…Ebu, very convincingly, stated: “Come, we go now, now!… We will get to Kedougou in two hours… and I will also return tonight, to Mali, with a passenger from Kedougou too!”.  In actual fact, we would not reach Kedougou until 10pm that evening! If we had had even a hint that we would be on the back of those motorcycles for almost nine spine-juddering hours, not one of us would have been smiling, and joking, half as much as we did when we set off!’ Words by Helen Jones-Florio / River Gambia Expedition.

Helen & ‘mototaxi’ rider, Ebu, and River Gambia Expedition team member, Ebou with his rider – leaving Mali Ville, Guinea-Conakry © Jason Florio
Helen & ‘mototaxi’ rider, Ebu, and River Gambia Expedition team member, Ebou with his rider – leaving Mali Ville, Guinea-Conakry © Jason Florio

 

The above excerpt is taken from the ‘River Gambia Expedition – 1044km source-sea African odyssey blog.

 

The Journey – 1 river | 2 borders | 3 countries

Guinea SenegalThe Republic of The Gambia

West Africa

Jason Florio & Helen Jones-Florio

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Looking back: River Gambia Expedition – 1044km source-sea African odyssey (youtube)

 

River Gambia Expedition – 1044km source-sea African odyssey’footage © Jason Florio & Helen Jones-Florio From the source of the River Gambia, in the Fouta Djallon Highlands of Guinea, into Senegal, and onto The Gambia, West Africa, to the Atlantic Ocean’ (2012-2013) – See/read more at River Gambia Expedition 

 

Related: ‘A Short Walk in the Gambian Bush – 930km African odyssey’