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’


Photo of the Day – Sunset over Kunta Kinte Island, River Gambia ©Helen Jones-Florio

The sun sets over Kunta Kinte Island, River Gambia, The Gambia, West Africa © Helen Jones-Florio
The sun sets over Kunta Kinte Island, River Gambia, West Africa © Helen Jones-Florio


The sun sets over baobab trees and Kunta Kinte Island

Formally known as James Island (an important historical site in the West African slave trade), situated on the River Gambia, near to the villages of Juffureh and Albreda. Taken in 2009, whilst on a 930km African adventure – the first ever circumnavigation, completely by foot, of The Gambia, West Africa,  by award-winning photojournalist, Jason Florio, and photography producer, Helen Jones-Florio, three Gambians, two donkeys and a cart. Jason shot what was to become award-winning portraits of village chiefs (Alkalos) and elders: ‘Silafando – a gift to you on behalf of my journey’ 


Gambia expedition 2009. Portrait of Dadi Bah, Al Kalo of Tuba Dabbo with Jason Florio and Helen Jones.
‘930km African Odyssey‘ Jason & Helen with village chief – alkalo – Dadi Bah, Tubba Dabbo, The Gambia, West Africa, 2009


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YOUTUBE: River Gambia – source-sea 1044km African Odyssey ©Jason Florio & Helen Jones-Florio

We can’t promote this beautiful tiny West African country enough – after all the turmoil The Gambia has experienced. In particular, recently. Following, is from our extensive archive of travels and adventures, in and around the country:

We did it! We completed the River Gambia Expedition23rd November 2012 – 21st January 2013 – after almost 400km overland in the Fouta Djallon Highlands of Guinea-Conakry into Senegal and then putting our two canoes into the water in Kedougou – we paddled (no engine!) over 700km of the River Gambia to its end, at the Atlantic Ocean in Banjul, The Gambia.

During our travels, we bounced and rattled down the mountains of the Fouta Djallon on the back of motorcycle taxis; hung out with gold miners in Senegal; drank attayah tea with village chiefs and elders; dodged very angry hippos on the River Gambia; and, as we paddled on the increasingly widening ocean-like river, we battled the wind and waves, as we neared the Atlantic Ocean and the end of our journey…’ see more on the River Gambia Expedition blog


Helen Jones-Florio & Jason Florio

Co-expedition leaders/Photographers


You may also be interested in ‘A Short Walk in the African Bush – 930km African odyssey‘. We walked around The Gambia, completely by foot – ‘bi tamala singo lah

'Silfando' Village chief, Herouna Tunkara and his horse ©Jason Florio
‘Silafando’ Village chief, Herouna Tunkara and his horse © Jason Florio

Press: ‘River Gambia’ & ‘The Quad Squad’ – Arik Air ‘Wings’ Magazine 25th Issue

Helen is on a mission! Quad-biking in The Gambia, West Africa, for Wings Magazine (Arik Air). Check the original story out here. Image © Jason Florio



On day five of paddling, on the River Gambia, in Senegal, a bull hippo sprung from beneath the surface, about 6 metres in front of our canoes. As we careened towards him, he submerged again. Once we calmed down (after scrambling to the safety of nearby rocks) and grew quiet, our Gambian expedition teammates, Abdou and Ebou, almost in tandem, said, “Wow, that was amazing, it’s the first hippo we have ever seen!” (this is after, whilst on pre- expedition planning skype calls, they had convinced us that ‘Hippos? No problem’)!’ River Gambia Expedition – 1044km source-sea African odyssey


The village chief (‘Alkalo’) of Karantaba, Gambia, fishing in the River Gambia, West Africa. Image ©Jason Florio, River Gambia Expedition with Helen Jones-Florio


Thanks to Wings Magazine /Arik Air – for re-featuring two of Florio’s images (pages: 50 & 78), from our West Africa adventures, in their celebratory 25th Issue.

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Visit Wings Magazine site here.

Photographer Jason Florio, at work, on the River Gambia, West Africa


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© Helen Jones-FlorioTangiers International  ‘We are conflict zone medical’


Jason Florio photographs young fisherman, Samba, on the River Gambia, in Kuntaur, The Gambia, West Africa. Taken whilst in the ‘River Gambia Expedition – 1044km source-sea Africa odyssey‘, 2012-13

Friday Photo: Dusk over Kunta Kinteh Island, on the River Gambia, West Africa

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Image © Helen Jones-Florio


Photographer, Jason Florio, walking down the jetty at Kunta Kinteh Island (formally James Island), in the middle of the River Gambia, near to the towns of Jeffureh and Albread, The Gambia, West Africa. Now a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the island was once served as one of the major ports on the Trans-Atlantic slave trade route, of West Africa.

Image © Helen Jones-Florio Taken whilst on ‘A Short Walk in the Gambian Bush – 930km African Odyssey‘.

Looking back: young boy leaves the gold mines of Senegal, to cross the River Gambia, after a long days work

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Image © Jason Florio – River Gambia


The section from Kedougou to Mako is known as ‘gold country’. For centuries the land on either side of the river has been continually pock marked by thousands of narrow mine shafts. We were warned about camping in these lawless areas, filled with anxious men and women, eyes bent on gold and not to be trusted. As I peered down one of the shafts, my eyes adjusted to see a labourer hunched, with axe in hand, a weak Chinese headlamp dotting the path of his striking tool. Watching the daily descent of these people into deep shafts, hauling the gold-bearing quartz and crushing it by hand, all while enveloped by air choked in fine dust made me realise what hard work it was. The unapologetic Sahelian sun seemingly has a softening effect on even the surliest of people because we were only ever treated courteously by them.Jason Florio ‘The River Gambia’ – for Sidetracked Magazine, Read the whole feature here.

Blog: ‘River Gambia Expedition – 1044km source-sea African odyssey

The ‘River Gambia‘ series – images by Jason Florio, taken whilst on the journey.

Press: River Gambia keeps on flowing… on Maptia.com

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PRESS – Image © Jason Florio – the source of the River Gambia


‘And yet, as we knelt and drank the clear water from where it first gathers in the sunlight, bubbling up from the giant natural cisterns beneath us, we felt that our source-to-sea journey had really begun… .’ Jason Florio – Maptia.com

With thanks to Jonny Miller, and all at Maptia, for a beautifully laid out feature, on their new website, of our River Gambia Expedition. Check out more incredible journeys – and striking images – on the site… ‘a world of stories


The River Gambia meets the East River, NYC – a floating photographic exhibition

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At Photoville, NYC, 2013, we exhibited Jason Florio’s ‘River Gambia‘ body of work – taken whilst we were on the ‘River Gambia Expedition – 1044km source-sea African odyssey‘. So, we were very excited when, earlier this year, the organizers of PV – United Photo Industries – approached us to see if we would like to exhibit the work as part of their Wunderlust / Drawn to Water series of exhibitions on the East River Ferry, in New York.

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We are particularly honored to except their invitation because, although we are spending an extended period here in West Africa at the moment,  New York has been our home for some years now. We only wish we could be there to see it. However, we are more than happy to have ‘River Gambia‘ representing us… floating around on the East River in NYC.

‘River Gambia’ © Jason Florio
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‘River Gambia’ © Jason Florio


To see more of Jason’s ‘River Gambia‘ series, please visit the website: floriophoto.com. And, if you would like to read about and see more images from the journey – check out our ‘River Gambia Expedition‘ blog.

Thanks for stopping by.

The Florios – Helen & Jason

Jason Florio & Helen Jones-Florio – ‘River Gambia’ exhibition, Photoville 2013. Image © Chris Bartlett