Youtube: ‘River Gambia’ – scenes from a 1044km source-sea African odyssey – a short film by Jason Florio and Helen Jones-Florio


Malian Fisherwoman © Jason Florio - ‘River Gambia’

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Please click on the image, or here, to view the footage

‘Malian Fisherwoman’ © Jason Florio – ‘River Gambia

YouTube footage © Jason Florio and Helen Jones-Florio – taken from the ‘River Gambia Expedition – 1044km source-sea African odyssey’

Meet the press : aCurator, Geographical Magazine, VQR, Trunk Mag, Flak Photo, Dangerous Magazine, BBC, Stella Zine, National Geographic, GUP Mag, Outside, Life Force Mag, Travel Africa…

Thanks for the press!

We are just updating our ‘Meet the Press’ page, here on the ‘River Gambia Expedition – 1044km source-sea African odyssey‘ blog, with the latest from Geographical Magazine – we got the cover, with one of Florio’s last images of our long journey, from his ‘River Gambia‘ series. And we were was astounded at the considerable amount of great international press we’ve garnered over the last couple of years, leading up to, during, and post both expeditions – our first one being in 2009 : ‘A Short Walk in the Gambian Bush – 930km African odyssey’, which produced an award-winning body of work ‘Silafando‘ – Florio’s formal portraits of Gambian village chiefs and elders, who we stayed with, and which he took at the end of each day of our walk.

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Geographical Magazine - Cover shot © Jason Florio

With huge gratitude from both of us, all of the following and more have helped to share our journeys worldwide : aCurator, Geographical Magazine, Virginia Quarterly Review, Trunk Magazine, Flak Photo, BBC News in Pictures, National Geographic, Outside Magazine, GUP Magazine, Life Force Magazine, Dangerous Magazine, Stella Zine, Africa Geographic, Arik Airlines, Foto Care Blog, The War Diaries, Travel Africa Magazine, G-Layer Magazine, The Gambia Blog, Gothamist… . Read more about press, awards, and exhibitions here

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aCurator ‘River Gambia’ © Jason Florio

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VQR - Life on the River Gambia. Images © Jason Florio

We’re now looking forward to seeing what the near future brings and we hope that we’ll garner as much interest for our next venture(s) – which includes holding our first Gambian photography workshop, teaching young students, in December this year.

However, more on that shortly.

Onwards, upwards – and sometimes a little sideways…

The Florios (H & ‘Flo’)

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H & Florio - on top of the world – Mali Ville, Fouta Djallon Highlands, Guinea-Conakry, West Africa



Female rice harvesters, Kaur, The Gambia – ‘River Gambia’ mages by Jason Florio

Members of the Santa Yalla kaffo (group) take a moment between harvesting rice from fields irrigated by the River Gambia. They are paid thirty Gambian Dalasis a day (80 US cents). Taken whilst on the ‘River Gambia Expedition – 1044km source-sea Africa odyssey

Footage from the journey © Jason Florio & Helen Jones-Florio : Youtube

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Click here or on the image to go to Youtube

Photoville, NY, 2013 – countdown to opening night and the first exhibition of ‘River Gambia’ images by Jason Florio


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UPDATE: Monday 16th September 2013

Thursday 19th September and we will be opening our shipping container doors to the public, at Photoville, to exhibit - for the first time‘River Gambia‘ presented by the Virginia Quarterly Review: images by Jason Florio and curated by Helen Jones-Florio. The fruits of our recent West African journey, in November 2012-January 2013 – ‘River Gambia Expedition – 1044km source-sea African odyssey‘ – that took us through three countries: over-landing in beat up 4×4′s, up and down mountains on the backs of motorcycles, and dodging pissed-off hippos as we canoed the mighty River Gambia!

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Men from the Fula tribe swim their horses across River Gambia next to a local ferry at the village of Karantaba where the famous Scottish explorer, Mungo Park set off for two of his journeys 200 years ago in search of the Niger river. Image © Jason Florio

We’re also finalizing an edit of an exclusive-to-Photoville footage which we both shot whilst our River Gambia journey. And…we will be offering stupendous deals on a couple of Jason Florio’s fine art photography prints – for the duration of Photoville only. There will be limited stock available. So, first come, first served!


‘Boy in the Mask’ © Jason Florio – will be available to purchase at a special ‘Photoville only’ price

Again, its with huge thanks to VQR for their support of the ‘River Gambia’ body of work – they ran a lengthy feature in the Spring 2013 edition of the journal.

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Thank you, VQR!!

If you are in New York between the 19-29th September, please stop by and say ‘hello’ to us. There promises to be some phenomenal exhibitions going on, over the two long weekends, along with workshops, talks, screenings…check out the Photoville schedule page. However, to name but a few which we personally can’t wait to see: aCurator presents Jim Mortram’s ‘Small Town Inertia‘ ; Chris Hondros Fund presents ‘Liberia: Remembering‘; PDN presents ‘The Great Outdoors‘; Indie Photobook Library presents ‘A Survey of Documentary Styles in Early 21st Century Photobooks‘…and aCurator panel, presented and moderated by Julie Grahame and Stella KramerPersonal Projects, Long Term Commitment‘; Andy Adams/Flak Photo ‘On-line Photographic Thinking‘; ‘Collecting Photography‘ panel…and, and, and…way too many more to mention!

We’re excited!! You’d be mad to miss Photoville!!

The Florios (H & Flo)

‘Great Things Come In The Mail’ – photo editor and creative consultant, Stella Kramer

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Great to read that Stella Kramer is enjoying her Florio prints, which she wrote about in her recent blog post: ‘Photographer Jason Florio has been a favorite of mine for many years, and I am always so grateful when he offers me a print. These two are from his newest work, from the last expedition to the Gambia when Jason and his wife, Helen Jones-Florio, canoed down the Gambian River from end to end. The spirit of adventure lives, and I am so glad to see that. Jason‘s connection to the people he photographs is incredible, and what his subjects give back of themselves is really wonderful. A great example of connecting with your subjects.’

Screen Shot 2013-07-29 at 4.54.17 PMThanks, Stella, for always being such a huge support of Florio’s work and what we’ve been up to over the last few years; with our recent River Gambia Expedition and our 2009 expedition – ‘ A Short Walk in the Gambian Bush – 930km African odyssey

For and update on where we’re at as of today, 30th July 2013, please check out this link

Tales from the River Gambia – reflecting on what’s gone by and what is to come…

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The River Gambia Expedition Route Map: 1044km (649 miles) from source to sea – 23rd November, 2012-21st January 2013. Three West African countries. One river.

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On the way to a BIG adventure – The Florios, Gatwick Airport, London-Banjul, The Gambia – Oct 2012

We actually began our journey when we arrived in The Gambia, West Africa, on a hot, sticky mid-October day, 2012, in anticipation of shortly afterwards receiving our container of gear – including a emergency stockpile of packet noodles and CLIF bars!) – which was being shipped down the Atlantic Ocean. We’ll be on the road, we thought, heading towards the Fouta Djallon Highlands of Guinea-Conakry, by 21st-22nd October, at the latest, to find the source of the River Gambia. Or at least, that was the plan. One thing we should have learned by now, from past expedition experience (‘A Short Walk in the Gambian Bush-930km African odyssey‘, 2009), is that plans will always – always – change.

It wouldn’t be until nearly five weeks later that we would eventually give up on ever seeing our container again – after the shipping company finally admitted that they had no clue where it was and/or when it would turn up at the docks in Banjul, the capital of The Gambia! We had to make do with what we could scavenge together and get on our way.  Each week we were delayed could be problematic once we got into the River Gambia – as the river levels can fall very dramatically in places, resuting in us having to portage the canoes and our gear – more often than we would be paddling.

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Youtube: update from the Florios, Kartong, The Gambia, West Africa

We headed out, from The Gambia, on November 23rd, towards the Fouta Djallon Highlands of Guinea – stopping in Kedougou, Senegal, on route, to drop off our canoes at a friends place. Thanks to Concern Universal for the lift across the border! From there, we took various modes of transport – a spine-juddering 24 hour drive, in an over-crammed (suspension-free – or so it felt!) Land Cruiser, up into the Highlands – to find the source of the River Gambia – on some of the worst ‘roads‘ in Africa. Calling them roads is actually a grand overstatement  – it’s more akin to rattling over the rockiest of river beds! However, in comparison to what we came back down the mountains on – on the back of moto-taxis – the ride in Land Cruiser was like cruising in a Rolls Royce Ghost!

We’ve covered a lot of ground, and river, since then and now we are back in our ‘other reality‘ of New York City, and the contrast couldn’t be more extreme. We’ve been working hard since our return, to get our story out there. Part of that work is to make the book. So…we need to fast forward a little, from our last blog post to the end of the journey, because there just aren’t enough hours in the day, days in the week, weeks in the month, to dedicate to both the blog and the book. Everything and more will be in the book anyway. We’ll be keeping you updated on here as to when we are ready to publish.

In the meantime, we hope that you have enjoyed – and continue to do so – the journey. Following is a snap-shot, if you will, of our travels on the River Gambia Expedition – please click on any of the hot-links, which will take you to the relevant posts, for more stories and images.

Traders. downtown Labe market, Guinea © Jason Florio

Traders. downtown Labé market, Guinea © Jason Florio

'Moto' boys - Labe, Guinea © Jason Florio

‘Moto’ boys – Labé, Guinea © Jason Florio

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Youtube: The Florios – update from the Fouta Djallon Highlands, Guinea-Conakry © Jason Florio & Helen Jones-Florio. Blog entry


The source of the River Gambia, Fouta Djallon Highlands of Guinea © Jason Florio


The River Gambia Expedition team-Fouta Djallon Highlands

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On top of the world, ‘Dame de Mali, Mali Ville, Fouta Djallon Highlands © Jason Florio

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‘Ebu’ – Moto taxis, Mali Ville, Fouta Djallon © Jason Florio

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The expedition team’s transport down the mountain – Moto taxis – Fouta Djallon © Jason Florio

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One of the villages that will be displaced if the proposed dam is built on the River Gambia – Runda Barra, Senegal/Guinea border © Jason Florio


The site of the proposed dam on the River Gambia at Runda Barra, Senegal/Guinea border © Jason Florio

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Team mate, Abdou, at the stern – early morning on River Gambia, Senegal © Jason Florio

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Youtube: Too close encounter with a hippo © Jason Florio & Helen Jones-Florio – Blog post

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Vignette: life on the River Gambia Expedition

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Dead monkeys and Christmas night sleeping on a rock – River Gambia, Senegal © Jason Florio

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‘The Twins’ become ‘The Ally Cat’ - Gouloumbou, Senegal © Jason Florio

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People we met along the way: The boy in the ‘fur coat’ © Jason Florio

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Time for a swim – Helen hangs out with the kids of Karantaba, River Gambia © Jason Florio

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People we met along the way: Malian fisher woman, River Gambia © Jason Florio

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Bonto, River Gambia, The Gambia © Jason Florio

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People we met along the way: the photographer and the journalist, Bansang, The Gambia © Jason Florio

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Night hawkers, Gouloumbou, Senegal © Jason Florio


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People we met along the way: The boy with his pet monkey, River Gambia © Jason Florio

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People we met along the way: ‘Hawa’ rice field worker © Jason Florio

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People we met along the way: ‘Oyster collectors, The Gambia © Jason Florio

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Horses swimming across the River Gambia, Karantaba, The Gambia © Jason Florio


People we met along the way: “The man on the pier’ at Bonto, River Gambia’ © Jason Florio

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The day before last – Helen, Ebou and Abdou, Bonto, The Gambia © Jason Florio

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The day before last – Jason Florio, Bonto, The Gambia © Helen Jones-Florio


The last image of the River Gambia Expedition: ‘The boy in the mask’ Mandinari, The Gambia © Jason Florio

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Mission Accomplished! Denton Bridge, at the Atlantic Ocean, The Gambia, West Africa

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JFK via London Gatwick – The Florios, post River Gambia Expedition – don’t we look happy to be back?! And we have our Peli UK case!

Thank you for coming on the ‘River Gambia Expedition – 1000km source-sea African odyssey‘. Its been quite a journey and we have more to come…please stay with us and we’ll keep you updated on the ‘River Gambia’ book – which will fill in all the blanks.

The Florios (Helen & Flo)

Photography – Jason Florio: Village Imam, Hore Dimma, Fouta Djallon Highlands, Guinea-Conakry

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© Jason Florio

Random photo of the day: The imam of Horé Dimma village, Fouta Djallon Highlands of Guinea-Conakry © Jason Florio

Excerpt from an earlier post: ‘The next day, we were woken at 5.00am, by the ‘call to prayer’ as the muezzin’s voice echoed loudly over the crackling PA system. The ensuing prayers went on, loudly, for a very long time. One night, during our stay in the village, the muezzin started at 2am?! Was there was some kind of emergency in the village? Did we need to get up and rush to the mosque or something? During our travels in Muslim countries, neither of us had ever heard the call to prayer at 2am. The next day, when we asked what it was all about, Saif (our Guinea guide from Galissa Voyage Trekking) said, in his strong French accent, “they (the muezzin) did not check their watch”. Ebou added “they were fooled by the full moon” ?!River Gambia Expedition – 1000km source-sea African odyssey

To see Jason Florio’s new series of images, taken whilst on the journey, please visit his website:  ‘River Gambia’

Photographer, Jason Florio: Women harvesting the rice, The Gambia, West Africa

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© 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).

Taken whilst on the ‘River Gambia Expedition – 1000km source-sea African odyssey

Check out more from Jason Florio’s new series of images ‘River Gambia’ on his website:

Update: We dodged the angry hippo and made it to Mako – and it’s time to say ‘fonyato domanding’ to our hippo expert

‘Fonyato domanding’ – a West Africa mandinka phrase – roughly translates as: ‘see you next time

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Hippo encounter, of the very close up kind, en route to Mako. Film footage © Jason Florio & Helen Jones-Florio. Click the image or here to view

Friday 21st December 2012 – Bantaco – Mako. Total paddling distance to-date: 105.73km  River Gambia Expedition

We left the main gold mines behind this morning and headed towards the small ‘urban’ town of Mako, centered around an arterial road, on one of the main highways in Senegal – the Trans Gambia Highway. We’d stopped in Mako, for a cold drink, on our way to Labé, just under a month ago – which, at times, often feels much more like two months, considering what we’ve squeezed into our journey so far.


Gold mines – Senegal, West Africa © Jason Florio

Whilst paddling, on route to Mako, we had a too-close-for-comfort encounter with a rather mammoth mammal – and a very pissed-off one at that: a hippo. After waiting on the rocks for over an hour – for the hippo to let us pass – and then hugging the river bank, paddling ‘donding, donding’ (slowly, slowly), we made it to Mako – and the safety of hippo-free terra firma. For the time being, at least.

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H and the team: arrival at Mako – River Gambia, Senegal, West Africa © Jason Florio

After scouting around, a local man kindly offered us the ground just outside his compound, to make our campsite for the night. It was right near to the riverbank, with an epically tantalizing view of Niokolo Koba National Park - frustratingly, after months of trying, we still hadn’t been given the go-ahead by the park director to paddle our canoes through the park. So, tomorrow morning, after packing our two Ally 811 canoes into their backpacks, we would be taking local transport for 134km’s to Wassadou – where we planned to spend Christmas and a couple of days of much-needed rest.

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Mako – market (lumo) area, Senegal, West Africa © Helen Jones-Florio

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A woman’s work is never done. H packs the Ally 811 canoes, Mako © Jason Florio

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Florio interviews Yousef – banks of the River Gambia, Mako, Senegal, West Africa © Helen Jones-Florio


Yousef with his fishing net – River Gambia, Mako, Senegal © Jason Florio


Yousef – Mako, Senegal © Jason Florio

Ebou and Florio - Mako, Senegal, West Africa © Helen Jones-Florio

Ebou and Florio – Mako, Senegal, West Africa © Helen Jones-Florio



Dusk – The view of Niokolo Koba National Park, River Gambia, Mako © Jason Florio


Saturday 22nd December 2012 – preparing to leave Mako

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Dawn – The River Gambia, Mako, Senegal © Jason Florio

First things first – get the Kelly Kettle on!

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Abdou and H – watching water boil, Mako, Senegal © Jason Florio

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Florio oversee’s the packing of the Sept Place - Mako © Helen Jones-Florio

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A nod to DPx Gear and Come Back Alive – one of our sponsors © Helen Jones-Florio

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© Helen Jones-Florio

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Team photo! L-R: Abdou, Florio, Yousef, Ebou (behind) and H – River Gambia, Mako, Senegal

Today we sadly and reluctantly say ‘fonyato’  – or au revoir – to Yousef. As much as we tried to persuade him to carry onto Banjul, The Gambia, with us he needed to get back to his wife and family in Kedougou. Yousef has not only caught fish for us along the way but he’s given us all a crash course in how to deal with hippos – catapults and posturing aside! – which, had we not happened open him a week ago in Kedougou (another of the many serendipitous moments we have had and will continue to have on this journey), we feel sure we may have quite possibly ended up in the River Gambia, manically swimming for shore and for our lives, after being rammed and capsized by a pissed off hippo! However, even he took a chance or two along the way, all in the name of saving a water container

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Yousef and his ‘rescued’ water container, Mako © Jason Florio

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Catapult boy – he must be a friend of Yousef’s -  Mako © Jason Florio

And, it’s goodbye to the River Gambia, for the next few days. We’ll miss you -but not the hippos!

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River Gambia – not a hippo in sight © Jason Florio

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Florio – Mako © Helen Jones-Florio

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H & Yousef – Mako – screen grab from film footage © Jason Florio and Helen Jones-Florio

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Fonyato domanding, Yousef! © Jason Florio

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Yousef gets his transport home – Mako © Jason Florio

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We’re on our way to Wassadou – Leaving Mako © Helen Jones-Florio

And so, we move onto the next stage of our journey. This time, we head up the road towards Wassadou. Most of the route is through the Niokolo Koba National Park – so at least we get to see it – just not, unfortunately, from our canoes. The plan is to spend Christmas in Wassadou – there is a lodge there that we read about – however, best laid plans and all…

More on that coming soon.

Thanks, as always, for stopping by. We hope you are enjoying the journey – as much as we are, reliving it.

The Florios (H & Flo)

Next up: Merry *&%$##* Christmas!!


Hunters – washing in the River Gambia, Senegal © Jason Florio

To see more of Jason Florio’s series of images – ‘River Gambia’ – from the expedition, please visit


Today’s shout out goes to NUUN, UK – ‘You’re Always Active, Your Water Should Be Too’

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NUUN – The River Gambia, Sila Kounda, Senegal, West Africa © Jason Florio

March 26, 2013 – Today’s shout out goes to NUUN, UK – ‘You’re Always Active, Your Water Should Be Too’

‘Nuun is leading the way in portable hydration with three drink options to keep you refreshed all day, everyday. All three are ideal to help keep you hydrated and to make the most of the water you drink’ – Nuun

BIG thanks to Sarah, Ella and all at Nuun for the hydration tablets and water bottles, for the River Gambia Expedition. They supplied us with three tasty flovours: tri-berry (my favourite), lemon & lime and lime tea, which helped to keep us hydrated throughout our journey – whether we’re trekking in the Fouta Djallon Highlands of Guinea or canoeing down the River Gambia in Senegal and The Gambia.

Thanks for your support, NUUN!


More ‘shout outs’ to come, for everyone who backed us with product