Press: Sidetracked Magazine feature ‘River Gambia Expedition’

Screen Shot 2014-06-18 at 9.07.05 AMScreen Shot 2014-06-18 at 8.54.20 AM‘In 1818, Gaspard Mollien, a young French explorer, knelt and drank from a tiny pool of water enveloped by a dense thicket in the remote Fouta Djallon highlands of Guinea. His discovery by locals at this sacred spot would have surely meant his death. This seemingly inconsequential puddle, filled from giant underground cisterns in the belly of the ferruginous Fouta plateau, was the end to his epic quest – the source of River Gambia. Almost two hundred years later, entering the same woods, I felt deep reverence, something approaching religious and spiritual. I had spent almost a year tracing maps to determine this actual spot, and only when Helen, my wife and expedition partner, found Mollien’s diary at the Royal Geographical Society…’ Jason Florio - read more in Sidetracked Magazine, June 2014

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Other relevant links that you may like to check out, from the Florios West Africa travels:

River Gambia’ – Jason Florio’s portraits of people who live and work along the river (the blog carries on after this post)

A Short Walk in the Gambian Bush - 930km African odyssey‘ the blog

Silafando – a gift to you on behalf of my journey‘ – Jason Florio’s award-winning portraits of the alkalo’s (village chiefs) and elders taken whilst on the walk

Makasutu – mecca in the forest‘ Jason Florio’s large format B&W portraits of the people who live and work around a sacred forest

Photos Tell Stories: teaching photography – a visual language‘ Jason & Helen Florio’s most recent project in The Gambia

Meet the Press – news and awards

 

MISSION ACCOMPLISHED! The River Gambia Expedition team reach the Atlantic Ocean, Banjul, The Gambia after over 1100km road and river!

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The River Gambia Expedition team reach the Atlantic Ocean, at Denton Bridge, The Gambia – after over 1000km of road and river l-r: Helen Jones-Florio, Ebou Jarju, Abdou Ndong, Jason Florio. Thanks to Terry, of Denton Bridge Watersports, for his hospitality on our return (and the chicken and chips!)

Tuesday 22nd January 2013

After two months on the road and camping on the banks of the River Gambia, we bloody well did it!! The River Gambia Expedition team reached the Atlantic Ocean, in The Gambia, yesterday, 21st January – over 1100km later: 700km canoeing the River Gambia and 400km over-landing through the Fouta Djallon Highlands, in Guinea-Conakry – to pay homage to the source of the River Gambia, in the village of Horé Dimma.

No support boat or vehicle. No motor. Just the four of us (at one time, five) and pure and simple paddle power!!

Yellowbrick route map 2013

The River Gambia Expedition route map

Last night it felt as if we had suddenly shifted into another reality. Our great friends Geri and Maurice, who run a beautiful eco lodge – Sandele – in Kartong, came to meet us in Banjul, to help us haul the Ally 811 canoes (A.K.A. ‘The Twins and more recently A.K.A. ‘The Ally Cat’)and all our gear back to their place by the beach, for some much needed r ‘n’ r. To mark the auspicious occasion – a double celebration, as it was also Florio’s birthday – G and M cracked open a bottle of champagne and a presented Mr F with a freshly baked carrot cake. We were in an odd sort of heaven…we even had our own plates! After having spent the last couple of months eating from a ‘family bowl’ – a very common West African way of eating is by sharing a big bowl of food.

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Family bowl – West Africa style, Hore Dimma, Guinea-Conakry

BUT! We need to rewind – quite a bit, actually – and go back to where we left of on the last post – and fill in the blanks of the journey. Because we have had so little chance to on line for the last month or so we have a backlog of photos, road and river stories to share with you. However…please bear with us (again!) as we readjust to being back and catch up on the practicalities of ‘normal’ life. We have return flights to the UK to book (big thanks to The Gambia Experience) to see family and flights back to NYC and home – at long last. We’ve been gone a while. We also have to go to Banjul port tomorrow and claim our itinerant box, filled with materials we needed for the River Gambia Expedition, which arrived about a week ago – nearly 3 months late – which has seemingly done the rounds, in the Atlantic Ocean, of various ports in West Africa!

Stay with us…we will be back shortly – we promise!

The Florios – H & Flo

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check our route on the YellowBrick Tracking page

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Our 1st canoe is assembled! The ’811 16.5′ Ally Folding Canoe’ by Bergans of Norway – as modelled by Jason Florio

© Helen Jones-Florio Image © Helen Jones-Florio – Florio models the Ally Canoe beautifully!!

UPDATE: Sept 27 – We now have paddles and trucks (for portaging the canoes) from System X, Wokingham Surrey, UK. Thanks for the support, Helen & the crew!!

We did it!! A first for both of us – assembling our very own canoe! Now we just need to raise enough to get the second one (for our Gambian team mates)! Please check out out Kickstarter campaign here + rewards for donors!! Deadline 15th Oct 2012 – Pledges start at just $10.00! Rewards: Jason Florio – our very own in-house award-winning photographer and River Gambia Expedition 2012 co-leader – fine art prints from our River Gambia Expedition 2012 or from Jason’s online gallery of B&W and Colour Collections.

Video footage of canoe building coming very soon…

Thanks to everyone for their support…amazing stuff!!

H & Flo (The Florios)

17 days to go!! Please click on the image to view details

Messing about on the water…The Thames, to be more precise – with the Surrey Canoe Club gang!

How big does our Ally Canoe look?! Image © Sophie Powell

Thanks to Sophie Powell for the photo and for arranging the informal paddle around Desborough Island, in Walton-on-Thames, last night. It was great fun to hang out with the guys from the ‘Surrey Canoe Club’ – despite the fact that this photo reminds me of a pod of hippos and Florio and I are the ‘Beach Master’ (‘big daddy’ hippo from Hippo Beach) in our Ally canoe!

It was great practice though, to be on the River Thames, in our Ally Canoe…after our meandering paddles along the gentle back waters of the Wey Navgation. We even got in a bit of wave-surfing in the wake of a bigger boat. Actually, it was more akin to a ripple on the surface of the water, compared to what we might run across on the River Gambia – particularly when we near the mouth of the river, where it meets the Atlantic Ocean – when we are on our River Gambia Expedition 2012

More canoe shenanigans coming soon!

The Florios x

To find out more about the River Gambia Expedition and how you can get involved, check out Florio (Jason) on YouTube

Please click image to watch the video

Dream boats…folding Canadian canoe…anyone? We just need ONE more. Can you help?

Jason Florio – Photographer and River Gambia Expedition Co-Leader model’s our new Ally Canoe (by Bergan’s of Norway)…beautifully. Image © Helen Jones-Florio

NEWSFLASH! 21st Aug 2012: we now are the proud owners of 1 x 811 16.5′ Ally Folding Canoe – BIG thanks to Tamarack Outdoors, UK, for facilitating a deal with Bergan’s of Norway (who make the expedition-style beauties). Now…we just need one more…read on…

OK…as sad as this sounds, over the last few months, Florio and I spent an inordinate amount of time daydreaming about the ideal canoes for our ‘River Gambia Expedition 2012 – 1000km source to sea African odyssey’. They have to be folding – as there will be times when we will need to portage all our camping and camera gear and the canoes, where the River Gambia is impassable – on our journey through the Fouta Djallon Highlands of Guinea, on into Niokolo Koba National Park in Senegal, and then finally into The Gambia. The canoes need to be lightweight, shock-absorbable (is that an actual word? Anyhooo, we need to know that if we, say, accidentally bump into the odd hippo – out of 6,000 of ‘em! in Niokolo, the craft won’t fall apart on impact!), flexible, insulated, have a high-load capacity, anatomic seats would be nice and, most importantly, easier (and quicker) to assemble then a Ikea PAX wardrobe. Oh…and they need to be about 17ft-18ft long – to fit 2-3 passengers (for when we pick up guides, and the odd armed guard, along the way). Colour – optional. Personally though, I’m partial to green or red.

Lastly, we need two one more of the things. Actually, (Bergan’s of) Norway and a little place in New Hampshire (PakBoats), USA, produce some beautiful crafts that fit our criteria perfectly.

Route Map – River Gambia Expedition 2012-1000km source to sea African odyssey

If there is anyone out there who might be able to help us with sponsorship for two one more canoe, please check out the ‘An Exchange’ page for more information. We also have a pdf of how we publicize all the product sponsors we have on board (pun most definitely intended). We have some fantastically generous product donators with us, so far.

OK…back to dream boats.

The Florios

Please click on the image below to watch Jason Florio as he explains how you can own one of his fine art photography prints, from a series of images he will take whilst on the expedition:

Our 1st canoe is assembled! The ’811 16.5′ Ally Folding Canoe’ by Bergans of Norway – as modelled by Jason Florio

© Helen Jones-Florio Image © Helen Jones-Florio

We did it!! A first for both of us – assembling our very own canoe! Mr Florio models it beautifully. Now we just need to raise enough to get the second one (for our Gambian team mates)…oh, and paddles! If you fancy supporting us in exchange for one of Jason Florio’s – our very own in-house award-winning photographer and River Gambia Expedition 2012 co-leader – fine art prints from our expedition, please click this link for full details (you could even enter the Print Draw for as little at $25/£16 and take a chance at winning one of his prints – deadline 31st Aug for the draw).

UPDATE: Sept 27 – Paddles and trucks (for portaging the canoes) from System X, Wokingham Surrey, UK. Thanks for the support, Helen & the crew!!

Video footage coming very soon…

Happy Weekend folks!

H & Flo (The Florios)

Check out out Kickstarter campaign here + rewards for donors!! Deadline 15th Oct 2012

17 days to go!! Please click on the image to view details

Dream boats…folding Canadian canoe…anyone?

Jason Florio – Photographer and River Gambia Expedition Co-Leader model’s our new Ally Canoe (by Bergan’s of Norway)…beautifully. Image © Helen Jones-Florio

NEWSFLASH! 21st Aug 2012: we now are the proud owners of 1 x 811 16.5′ Ally Folding Canoe – BIG thanks to Tamarack Outdoors, UK, for facilitating a deal with Bergan’s of Norway (who make the expedition-style beauties). Now…we just need one more…read on…

OK…as sad as this sounds, Florio and I spend an inordinate amount of time daydreaming about the ideal canoes for our ‘River Gambia Expedition 2012 – 1000km source to sea African odyssey’. They have to be folding – as there will be times when we will need to portage all our camping and camera gear and the canoes, where the River Gambia is impassable, on our journey through the Fouta Djallon Highlands of Guinea, on into Niokolo Koba National Park in Senegal, and then finally into The Gambia. The canoes need to be lightweight, shock-absorbable (is that an actual word? Anyhooo, we need to know that if we, say, accidentally bump into the odd hippo in Niokolo, the craft won’t fall apart on impact!), flexible, insulated, have a high-load capacity, anatomic seats would be nice and, most importantly, easier (and quicker) to assemble then a Ikea PAX wardrobe! Oh…and they need to be about 17ft long – to fit 2-3 passengers (for when we pick up guides, and the odd armed guard, along the way). Colour – optional. Personally though, I’m partial to green or red.

Lastly, we need two one of the things. Actually, Norway and a little place in New Hampshire, USA, produce some beautiful crafts that fit our criteria perfectly.

Route Map – River Gambia Expedition 2012-1000km source to sea African odyssey

If there is anyone out there who might be able to help us with sponsorship for two one canoe, please check out the ‘An Exchange’ page for more information. We also have a pdf of how we publicize all the product sponsors we have on board (pun most definitely intended). We have some fantastically generous product donators with us, so far.

OK…back to dream boats.

The Florios

Please click on the image below to watch Jason Florio as he explains how you can own one of his fine art photography prints, from a series of images he will take whilst on the expedition: