The Florios Travel
Just to keep you all updated on our progress…plans are falling onto place, ‘domading, domading’ (Mandinka for slowly, slowly), for our pending departure down to West Africa – and to begin the River Gambia Expedition 2012 proper. Once down there, our journey will take us to the source of the river (the River Gambia) – with some trekking alongside it to begin with – until a point whereby the river gets wide enough for us to get the canoes in – across borders and through three West African countries: beginning in Guinea, on into the South East of Senegal (and the hippo infested waters of Niokolo Koba National Park – an estimated 6000 of the mammoth mammals!) and, finally, into The Republic of the Gambia (the country derives its name from the river) and onto the Atlantic Ocean and our journey’s end.
The Route Map
We’re working hard on fundraising for the expedition (Jason’s fine art photography prints in ‘an exchange‘ for donations); meeting with ambassadors from the relevant countries; researching (researching and…more researching); sourcing the best in-country guides for the Guinea and Senegal sections; beg, borrowing and stealing equipment ((ok, not the stealing bit – we have some fantastic gear sponsors on board – we need more though! ); building canoes, twittering / twottering and Facebooking...and, in between all of that, we’re training hard on the river with the one canoe we have so far (we have yet to raise the funds to get the second canoe that we need – hint, hint!).
Florio out runs the swans in the ’811 16.5 Ally′ folding canoe! Lets just hope we can do the same with the hippos on the River Gambia! Image © Helen Jones-Florio
In between all this work, revisiting old West London haunts on the ‘Bella (Portobello Road, to the uninitiated) has been on the agenda. My, how things have changed. However, its good to see some things remain the same…(factoid: back in the day, a young Mr Florio used to work at ‘Slam City Skates’ when they had a shop downstairs at Rough Trade, off Portobello Road)
Image © Helen Jones-Florio, 2012
Phew! Alas, non of the above will abate until we get down on the river, in West Africa – even then, we’ll be trying damn hard, as often as we can, to get a signal to update this blog, and our sponsors and donors. However, we’ll still be making the most of the journey and the inevitable adventures it will bring.
And, importantly, lets hope we can bring back more road stories , river tales, and beautiful images – photos that tell stories – as we did from the our Short Walk expedition.
‘Silafando’ Gambian Chiefs & Elders © Jason Florio, 2009
Boys playing in the River Gambia, Tendaba, The Gambia © Jason Florio, 2009
The Short Walk team – leaving the village of Kalaji at dawn, The Gambia, West Africa © Jason Florio, 2009
For more of Florio’s award-winning portraits, from A Short Walk in the Gambian Bush, please visit his website and for ‘road stories’ and more photographs from the 2009 expedition, please visit the blog
One other thing that we’ve been collecting are stories of hippo’s…and, the more we hear, the more trepidacious we are of encountering these colossal, extremely territorial, unpredictable, hefty mammals, on route – and, from what we’ve been told, there is little doubt that we will come face to face with them.
Hippos – Ngorongoro © Jason Florio
Leaving date? Hmmm…as soon as possible but, in reality, we hope to fly down to West Africa by mid-late September. Firstly, to The Gambia to prep with our Gambian team mates, Abdou and Ebou, for a week or so. Then we’ll drive down to Guinea, to begin our epic journey…more updates on that as and when.
If you’d like to know more about how to support the expedition, in an exchange, for one of Jason Florio’s fine art photography prints, taken from image whilst we are on the River Gambia Expedition, check our Florio talking about this in YouTube:
Please click image to watch the video
Thank you to everyone who has jumped on board to support us so far – gear sponsors and individual donors alike – without whom this journey, basically, wouldn’t happen (unless our trust funds suddenly materialise – yeah right, what trust fund?!).
Please stop by for more updates…coming soon.
The Florios (Helen & Flo)