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 Expedition – 23rd 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.
‘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
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.
‘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.
‘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‘
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.
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.