‘”It will be cheaper than taking the vehicle!” said Florio – pulling at our over-stretched expedition 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.
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.
We first met ‘King Kai’ – a young local entrepreneur from the village of Kartong (also known as Kartung), which borders Senegal, in southwestern Gambia – a few years ago, when he had recently opened his small barbershop/hairdresser, which also served the community with cold drinks and expertly hand-crafted (by King Kai, himself) models of traditional masquerades. Never one to rest on his laurels, when we returned a year or so later, KK had expanded his business empire to include an amusement arcade, to entertain the youth of the village – apparently, much to the consternation of the village elders and Koranic scholars, who felt this to be unIslamic behaviour for young boys.