Meet the press: The River Gambia Expedition story so far

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April 2013: VQR Spring 2013 opening page – Jason Florio’s latest series of images: ‘Life on the River Gambia

Florio and I were just looking back at what we’ve achieved since we got the crazy idea to over-land and then paddle up the River Gambia – from it’s trickling source (see above image, VQR) in the Fouta Djallon Highlands of Guinea, into Senegal, and then on to The Republic of the Gambia…where, after an eventful 1000km+, we staggered out of our makeshift catarmaran (the Ally Cat), where the mighty river runs into the Atlantic Ocean.

The interest, and support, in our journey has been phenomenal – particularly from the press. Here are just a few of the highlights…and we definitely know there is more to come. However, until articles are published, we have to hold off announcing what is to come. But…we just got news this morning that a highly esteemed publication, which we have been coveting – even since our ‘A Short Walk in the Gambian Bush’ 2009 expedition – has agreed to take our recent River Gambia Expedition story. To say that we are thrilled is a slight understatement…this publication takes us into the realms of ‘taken-seriously-as-expeditioners‘! (That’s not to take anything away from all the other publications who have supported us!). Ecstatic/thrilled/joyous/crikey(!) would be more fitting adjectives! Watch this space…

In the meantime, a few of the highlights from the press coverage we’ve had over the last year – including a resurgence of the our 2009 expedition - particularly, Florio’s portraits of village chiefs (Alkalos) and elders: ‘Silafando‘:

Nat Geo Weekend

March 2013: Click on image to go to Nat Geo Radio page – scroll down to listen to Jason Florio and Helen-Jones Florio’s interview with Boyd Matson – March 10, 2013: ‘Going Undercover for Elephant Ivory, Held Hostage by Hippos (that’s us!!), and More’

Outside mag2


January 2013: Trunk Magazine – broke their own record by printing an unprecedented 18 pages of Jason Florio’s chiefs and elders (‘Silafando‘) from our 2009 expedition (‘A Short Walk in the Gambian Bush’)


May 2913: And because of the above 18 pages, Trunk Magazine were awarded the SPD silver medal for distinctive achievement in photography in the category of travel, food, and still life for “There and Back Again” Jason Florio‘s portrait series of Gambian chieftains. Trunk also followed up on our River Gambia Expedition with: ‘Gambia and Back

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April 2013: VQR (Virginia Quarterly Review), on our return, published 14 pages of Florio’s new series of images:’Life on the River Gambia‘ in their hard copy journal and on-line. Plus, we got a lovely note from the editor.


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November 2013: DPx Gear/Dangerous Magazine – ‘Down the Gambia‘ prior to leaving on the River Gambia Expedition, one of our collaborators, sponsors, instigators, and one of Florio’s assignment buddies (insert Mogadishu; undercover in Burma…kind of buddy), Robert Young Pelton‘s, Dangerous Magazine published an interview, by Will Grant, with Florio.

Dangerous Mag - The follow up

Dangerous Magazine – the follow up- Down the Gambia – image © Jason Florio: kids playing on the banks of the River Gambia, Senegal

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May 2013: Foto Care, NYC, hosted our presentation/slideshow, with Stella Kramer as moderator, to a standing-room-only packed house.



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June 2013: Tabla Rasa Gallery exhibition – group show ‘Equus’ features two of Jason Florio’s portraits of horses – from both the River Gambia Expedition and A Short Walk in the Gambian Bush

For an update on what’ happening on the River Gambia Expedition front now, please check out ‘Tales from the River Gambia – reflecting on what’s gone by and what is to come…

Thanks to everyone for supporting our madness!

The Florios (H & Flo)

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Mission accomplished! Denton Bridge (and the mouth of the Atlantic Ocean), The Gambia, West Africa. L-R: Helen Jones-Florio, Ebou Jarju, Abdou Ndong and Jason Florio

Hippo alert – 11 o’clock! Fog horn at the ready, Jones! River Gambia, Senegal, West Africa

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YOUTUBE: Fog horn at the ready, Jones! Hippo alert – River Gambia, Senegal, West Africa. Footage by Jason Florio

Tuesday 18th December 2012 – Djinji-Bantaco – paddling distance: 29km

We set off from the village of Djinji around 10am this morning, paddling towards the next gold mining village of Bantaco – which we had heard was one of the biggest mining area, along the River Gambia. During the six hours we spent on the river, as you will see from the above footage, we had another hippo encounter. Looking back on the footage, so far, you can tell how jittery we all were – hey, it’s a nerve-racking business, finding yourself constantly under threat of colliding with and/or getting too far into a hippo’s territory. So, please excuse the expletives.

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YOUTUBE: Helen: “Non of that sneaking between our canoe and the riverbank, guys – when you see a hippo!” footage © Jason Florio & Helen Jones-Florio – River Gambia, Senegal

And, unbeknownst to us – when we were out of radio contact, for over a month, whilst on the River Gambia Expedition – others were equally as ‘worried’ about us. Which begs the question: Enemies? Who needs them, when one has friends, family, and DPx Gear sponsors, like these guys? Their concern was underwhelming:

hippo conversation from FB

Robert Young Pelton, DPx Gear

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‘Don’t let this tranquil setting fool you – hippos love a beach!’ © Jason Florio, River Gambia, Senegal, West Africa

Let’s just say, that we were all happy to get into the salt – i.e. hippo-free – water. But, that wouldn’t come for quite sometime yet. In the meantime, please continue to follow our River Gambia adventures.

The Florios (H & Flo)

Next up: more from the gold mines of Bantaco and Tombronkoto, Senegal

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‘Washing the gold’ – gold miner, Bantaco, River Gambia, Senegal © Jason Florio

Two DPx Gear knives have been pledged for, to our Kickstarter campaign!! We have 1 ‘DPx HEST Original left. Get your pledge in fast!

Thanks to Ted Sonnier, of Houston Texas, for being the first person and Andy Katz, of New York City, for being the second person to pledge $150 to our Kickstarter campaign, for Robert Young Pelton’s DPx Gear knives – and a 8×10″ limited edition fine art print, taken by Jason Florio, whilst we are on the forthcoming River Gambia Expedition!

Knife#1 – ‘DPx HEFT 4 Woodsman’ – DPx price: $212.50

The beautifully crafted knives will be winging their way from the DPx Gear hub in California, USA, to Ted and Andy, respectively – once we reach our target on Kickstarter. BUT, only once we reach our target of $3,500 will KS release the pledges made. As from today, 2nd October, we are 71% funded/pledged! Thanks to everyone for their support – we are extremely grateful – and humbled – by the your support and the ongoing messages of encouragement for the River Gambia Expedition

If you would like to make a pledge, and receive rewards for your support, please visit our Kickstarter page to find out all the details about the expedition – 12 days to go!

Please click on the image to view details

click on image to view Youtube video

We still have one DPx Gear knife on offer: the ‘HEST Original’ Check out yesterday’s post for all the details. Get your pledge in quickly, though – first come, first served! We’ll be taking our trusty DPx HEST Original’s with us again, on this next West Africa expedition – just as we did on our ‘A Short Walk in the Gambian Bush – a 930km African odyssey’.

Knife#2 – DPx HEST Original = DPx price: $123.75

Lastly, a massive shout out to Robert Young Pelton/DPx Gear for his very generous support -and collaboration. We’re still hoping we can convince the intrepid explorer to come join us on the expedition – or, at least, part of it – either trekking with us through the Fouta Djallon Highlands of Guinea or paddling through the hippo-abundant River Gambia, in Niokolo Kola National Park, in Senegal. For sure, RYP knows a thing or two about hippo’s (and croc’s)! Check out some of Robert’s books ‘The World’s Most Dangerous Places’, ‘Come Back Alive‘…this man has travelled!

click on image to visit ‘Come Back Alive’ – to find out ‘who is RYP?’

Again, thanks to Ted Sonnier and Andy Katz for their continued support. You’ve both just helped notch up our Kickstarter pledges – and get us nearer to our goal! DPx Gear knives and fine art photography prints will be coming your way soon!

The Florios x

Update: Leaving date for The Gambia, West Africa – 16th October. Meet and last minute prep with our local Gambian team mates, Abdou and Ibu, and then make our way, overland, down to Guinea at the end of October….more updates coming soon.

Want one of adventurer and author – ‘The World’s Most Dangerous Places’ – Robert Young Pelton’s DPx Gear Knives?

Knife#1 – DPx HEFT 4 Woodsman – DPx price: $212.50

PLEDGE MADE – NO LONGER AVAILABLE: Knife#1 – ‘DPx Gear redefined the term “survival knife” with the DPx H•E•S•T. Now the Hostile Environment Field Tool takes our survival concept bigger, harder and longer.

The DPx HEST has a stouter, bolder, four inch brother in 0.19” thick patented German Lohmann Niolox 1.4153.03 stainless, high-performance blade steel cryo-hardened to 61 HRC. This trusted companion deep in the woods delivers more punch in an open use environment or where the pry bar and concealed use of the HEST is not as critical.’

We have three DPx Gear knives on offer, with huge thanks to one of our River Gambia Expedition sponsors and collaborator’s, Robert Young Pelton : ‘film-maker, journalist, adventurer and geopolitical pundit‘. RYP has made numerous expeditions and covered most of the world’s conflicts for the past 20 years. Founder of DPx Gear – ‘equipment for hostile and deadly environments’ – and author of ‘The Worlds Most Dangerous Places‘ and ‘Come Back Alive‘, and ‘Licensed to Kill – Hired Guns and the War on Terror’.

Knife#2 – DPx HEST Original = DPx price: $123.75

Knife#2 – ‘The DPx H•E•S•T or Hostile Environment Survival Tool™ is the knife that started it all… the original, brutal-use everyday carry fixed survival blade. Made in America, used worldwide.

The DPx HEST Original changed the way professionals think of a survival blade. It had to be with you to be useful, and it couldn’t fail when deployed. The HEST features an “over built” blade crafted from high-carbon 1095 hardened and tempered steel that delivers a 57-58 Rockwell hardness. A material that stands up to abuse and still takes quick strops in the field.’

Knife#3 – DPx HEST/F 2.0 Olive Drab – DPx price: $218.75

PLEDGE MADE – NO LONGER AVAILABLE Knife#3 – ‘The DPx HEST/F(folding) 2.0 is a German D2 tool steel folder mated to a U.S. made titanium alloy frame with a durable American G10 scale assembled by the crafstmen at LionSTEEL(R) in Northern Italy. The HEST/F was developed as the direct folding version of the HEST fixed blade knife and was dubbed the 2.0 because there were a number of significant modifications made to the original design of this brutal use folder. The goal was to increase strength without adding weight and to directly address concerns about ease of opening, strength of lockup and usability.’

Click to view

In order to qualify for one of the above hand-made, precision, knives then here’s what you need to do – and, because we only have three, you need to be quick off the mark – strictly, first come, first served! To secure your choice of knife, you will need to pledge a certain *amount (details below) to our Kickstarter campaign – initially, by emailing with your choice and promise to pledge.

PLUS, along with each knife, included in the stated pledge amount, will be a limited edition, signed, fine art photography print from River Gambia Expedition co-leader, and award-winning photographer, Jason Florio - from a series he will take whilst in the forthcoming journey.

*All the knives are below the manufacturer’s – DPx Gear – recommended retail price and the 8×10″ prints are usually a minimum of a $100 pledge on Kickstarter – basically, it’s a great deal!

  • Knife#1 -DPx Gear HEFT 4 Woodsman + 8 x 10″ River Gambia Expedition print – Amount to be pledged to Kickstarter: $150.00 – UPDATE: Oct 1st – pledged for – no longer available. Sorry!
  • Knife#2 – DPx HEST Original + 8 x 10″ River Gambia Expedition print – Amount to be pledged to Kickstarter: $120.00
  • Knife#3 – DPx HEST/F 2.0 Olive Drab + 8 x 10″ River Gambia Expedition print – Amount to be pledged to Kickstarter: $150.00 UPDATE: Oct 1st – pledged for – no longer available. Sorry!

We found many, and varied uses, for our DPx Original Hest Knife whilst on ‘A Short Walk in the Gambian Bush’ expedition in 2009,The Gambia, West Africa. Image © Jason Florio

Again, please email with your choice of knife and then we’ll send you instructions on how to make your pledge to secure that choice. The sooner you make your pledge, the more chance you will have of getting on of the above knives.

PLEASE NOTE: due to shipping restrictions, this offer is ONLY available to residents, or citizens, within the USA. Sorry, to those of you outside the USA :(

Here are just a few of Jason Florio’s fine art photography prints, which were available for our donors to choose from, from our 2009 expedition – ‘A Short Walk in the Gambian Bush – a 930km African odyssey’

Ok…get your skates on!

Good luck!

Jason & Helen – The Florios

Gambian woman waits for the ferry to cross the River Gambia, in the village of Karantaba, The Gambia, West Africa – Image © Jason Florio

‘Silafando’ – portraits of village chiefs and elders © Jason Florio L-R: Landing Jammeh & Julu Sanyang, The Gambia, West Africa

Fisherman on the River Gambia, at Dusk – Image © Jason Florio 2009

‘Boys playing on boat’ Gambia River, in the village of Tendaba, The Gambia, West Africa . Image © Jason Florio

Click on image to view – Jason Florio talks about the River Gambia Expedition

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DPx Knives offer – from adventurer and author, Robert Young Pelton…first come, first served!

DPx Knives by Adventurer and author, Robert Young Pelton

Very shortly, we’ll be posting a fantastic offer…we’ll have just three DPx Gear knives to exchange for donations/pledges to our Kickstarter campaign. World adventurer, author and River Gambia Expedition collaborator (meet the team), Robert Young Pelton’s knives are second to none:

‘You work out there, hundreds of miles from help, pushing the limits of sanity, stamina and luck. Whether your world is combat, humanitarian, rescue, survival or hunting, it is where you will find DPx Gear. DPx Gear is designed for brutal use. Where there is no room for failure. Our knives are not just edged tools, they are designed and built to be hostile environment survival tools. The gear that you see revealed on this site will be the result of decades of “why don’t they….” and we did.’ DPx Gear

But, as mentioned, we will have just three of these hand-crafted beauties…so, all you adventurers and intrepid explorers of the world, first come, first served! If you want to be notified of when we post the actual offer – to get in there with a chance – then sign up here on the blog (see the right hand column – ‘follow us please – come on board’). Or, follow our River Gambia Expedition Facebook page

DPx Gear – a taster of what’s on offer!

Post coming very, very soon!

The Florios

Please click on the image to view details



Product sponsors and backers – on board so far, for the River Gambia Expedition 2012. Thank you to everyone!

We have some amazing product sponsors on board so far…thank you so much to every one of them! We have a few more in the pipeline too…tbc…watch this space.

We also have ‘An Exchange’ for those individuals who would like to own one of River Gambia Expedition 2012 co-leader, Jason Florio’s, limited edition fine art photography prints which he will take whilst we are in West Africa. Please click on the image below to watch Jason reveal all, on Vimeo, about how to jump on board too:

One of Jason’s fine art photography prints, available in ‘an exchange’ from the last expedition ‘Alkalo (chief) Masanneh Cham, Chamen Sosseh The Gambia, West Africa © Jason Florio