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’

Photographer, Jason Florio, at work – the gold mines of Senegal, West Africa

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Woman breastfeeding her baby, gold miners at work, Senegal, West Africa © Jason Florio

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Photographer, Jason Florio, at work – Gold mines, Senegal. West Africa © Helen Jones-Florio

Thursday 20th December 2013 – Paddling distance: 11.4km (total to-date: 83.65km) – River Gambia Expedition

River Gambia Expedition

A relatively short day’s paddling on the River Gambia today, as we wanted to stop and visit another gold mine in South Eastern Senegal. This stretch of the river is dotted with artisanal gold mines – which draw thousands of migrant workers from all over West Africa: Guinea-Bissau, Ghana, Guinea-Conakry, Mali, and Senegal itself. All of them hoping to make their fortune. Whole families live in and around the mines, in makeshift villages (rather disconcertingly described as the ‘Wild West‘ of SE Senegal, during our pre-expedition research). All the mines we visited were understandably dusty, but this one, in particular, had an extremely fine, pink-hued, dust which got into absolutely everything. Even our tents, situated by the river – over 2 miles away from the mine itself – were covered in a fine film of the pale pink, talc-like dust. But, at least we could pack up our tents and leave the next day, washing away the dust. Many of those people whose lives revolve around the gold mines, for months and years in some cases, aren’t so lucky, as they inhale toxic fumes from the mercury – used to separate the gold from the rock dust. The mercury that isn’t inhaled settles into the environment – i.e. the pink dust that coats everything and everybody, at this mine.

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Florio helps the gold miner load his bicycle, Senegal, West Africa © Helen Jones-Florio

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H: “There’s gold in this here rock – apparently!” Gold mines, Senegal © Jason Florio

We met the Senegalese version of a ‘Tolleh Kaafo (silly people/village jokers). Most villages in The Gambia will have such a group, or person, in this case, and their purpose is to lighten up situations – laughing and joking around, when things get too serious. This guy was a real character, who seemed to have everything but an attayah teapot in his pockets!

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Kids playing in the dust, gold mines, Senegal, West Africa © Helen Jones-Florio

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Ebou, Abdou and Yousef, relax after a long days paddle, Senegal, West Africa © Jason Florio

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Dawn – Ebou & Yousef go fishing, River Gambia, Senegal, West Africa © Jason Florio

More river stories to come…next stop Mako, with a couple of hippo encounters on the way!

As always, thanks for stopping by.

The Florios - H & Florio

To view Jason Florio latest series of images – River Gambia – please visit



Dawn to Dusk – the splendor of West African skies

Dusk over the River Gambia, Tendaba, The Gambia, West Africa © Jason Florio

Just one of the many things that we love about being down in West Africa is the sky…especially the dawn and dusk skies. Stupefyingly brilliant, incomparable, sunrises and sunsets – and we aren’t talking light pollution here (due to their being very little electricity supply, if any, in most places). This is natural beauty, in its truest form.

It’s not just the spectacular colours……… it’s also the real sense of peace, an inner stillness, that one feels when walking along at dawn with the sounds of the bush waking up around you – a sound which reaches a crescendo as the sun rises higher through the dawn sky. And, despite the cacophony of chitter, chattering birds, monkeys, farting goats and donkeys (yes, really) – and whatever else is out there in the bush that you can’t see and/or really don’t want to see – there is still that over-riding sense of all being well with the world.

Here are just a smattering – of many – images from various visits down to The Gambia. We can’t wait to get back there…to stare, transfixed in wonderment, at these skies again.

Ever the photographer: Florio surveys the beauty – crossing the river at Kalaji, The Gambia, West Africa © Helen Jones-Florio

That sense of peace – H on the road at dawn, The Gambia, West Africa © Jason Florio

Helen – dusk over Mandina Balong, Makasutu, The Gambia, West Africa © Jason Florio

Kunta Kinteh Island (James Island), Juffereh, The Gambia, West Africa © Jason Florio

Florio leaving Kunta Kinteh Island (James Island), Juffereh, The Gambia, West Africa © Helen Jones-Florio

H and the ‘Short Walk’ expedition team cross the river at Kalaji, The Gambia, West Africa © Jason Florio

If you would like to see more images from The Gambia, please visit our other blog – ‘A Short walk in the Gambian Bush - 930m African odyssey’ or check out ‘Expedition Africa

Florio, a multi-award-winning photographer, will no doubt be producing some stunning work whilst we are on the forthcoming River Gambia Expedition (we are hoping to leave for West Africa in a few short weeks – at last!). If you would like to get involved in ‘An Exchange’ - donations for Jason Florio’s limited edition fine art photography prints, taken whilst we are in Guinea, Senegal and The Gambia, please check out this link, or watch Florio tell all about it, here on YouTube

Please click image to watch the video

Here’s just one of many images, which were available, as prints, to those people who supported ‘An Exchange’ on out last expedition in 2009 – A Short Walk in the Gambian Bush – a 930km African odyssey, when Florio produced an award-winning body of work: portraits of Gambian village chiefs and elders (which were also available to our donors, to choose their favourite print from)

James Island at dusk, Juffereh, The Gambia, West Africa © Jason Florio

We hope you enjoy following the journey with us – we’ll be updating regularly with road stories and images galore.

More soon!

The Florios