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

If you don’t have $100+ to exchange for one of Jason Florio’s limited edition prints, $25 could get your name on a banner, photographed and blogged about, from the middle of the River Gambia, West Africa! Read on…

This could be your name/website on the banner.
Jason Florio on the banks of the River Gambia, at Karantaba, The Gambia, West Africa. Image © Helen Jones-Florio, 2009 – taken whilst on ‘A Short Walk in the Gambian Bush’

So, you don’t have $100/£65 + to spare? That’s all good too…because every penny and cent will help us get this River Gambia Expedition 2012 rolling. OK, it won’t get you one of Jason’s prints – as with the ‘An Exchange’ deal, but every single person who donates, even with $25 USD/£16 GBP, will have their name, and/or your company website, linked, added to the blogroll list of thanks and all on our other social media sites (such as Twitter & FB).

PLUS, PLUS, PLUS each and every donor – regardless of whether its $25/£16 or $1500/£970 – will get the following:

Your name, or company name/website, written (in BOLD) on a piece of card, wood, fabric, the canoe paddles, if it comes to it – basically, whatever raw materials we can find when we’re down in West Africa!

One of the expedition team will hold up the banner and a photograph will be taken – whether we are in the Fouta Djallon highlands or paddling through hippo-abundant waters Niokolo Koba National Park, Senegal, or standing on the historical Kunta Kinteh Island, in The Gambia – said photo will be posted onto the blog, twit-pic’d, Facebooked, Tumblr’d – the lot! (If you prefer not to be social media’ed, that’s all good too – just let us know when you donate).

To find out why we are doing this and why we need your support, please click here and here

Image © Jason Florio 2009. Chief Landing Jammeh – one of the award-winning portraits - ‘Silafando’ - available in ‘An Exchange’ (donations of $100 +) from the 2009 expedition

To support the ‘River Gambia Expedition 2012 – 1000km source to sea African odyssey’, please go Paypal to create an account. But, if you already have one, then all you have to do is click on the following Paypal icon:

1. If you aren’t registered for PayPal you need to register an email address and password – it takes 2 minutes. You will then receive an email from PayPal asking you to confirm your account

2. Once logged in – from ‘my account’ page go to ’send money’ tab on the left of the top tool bar

3. Enter ‘who to’ – the expedition email address – : 700miles@floriophoto.com

4. Enter Amount: scroll down for relevant currency

5. Choose ‘personal’ tab then ‘gift’ then ‘continue’

6. Check amount and then press ’send money’ tab

And that’s it! It takes but a few minutes. All additional, or unused, funds raised over our target amount will be donated to our partner charity – please email helen.jones@floriophoto.com for more information on the charity we support.

And, if you do find yourself with $100/£65 + to spare, then check out ‘An Exchange’ to see how you can get one of Jason Florio’s exclusive, limited edition, fine art photography prints from the forthcoming River Gambia Expedition 2012.

Here are just a couple more of Florio’s fine art photography prints from the 2009 expedition ‘A Short Walk in the Gambian Bush – a 930km African odyssey’

‘Kunta Kinteh Island at Dusk’ (formally James Island), Juffereh, The Gambia, West Africa © Jason Florio 2009

‘Children standing on the scared stones at Kerr Batch’ The Gambia, West Africa © Jason Florio 2009

L-R: Alkalo Dam Sallah, Kerr Sait Maram and Alkalo Fatou Dansu, Kabba Kama, Basse, The Gambia, West Africa © Jason Florio – one of the award-winning portraits available in ‘An Exchange’ (donations of $100 +) from the 2009 expedition. ‘Silafando’

Check out Florio, talking all things River Gambia Expedition on YouTube

Please click image to watch the video

A massive thanks to everyone who has supported us so far – with $25 and upwards – you are all helping to make this journey possible and, for that, we are eternally grateful.

Big Love

The Florios (H & Flo)

BIG Love, Respect and Thanks for the Support and Messages – to everyone who has jumped on board ‘An Exchange’ – for fine art prints

The River Gambia 2012 – Rolling Blog of Thanks

You are all making this expedition possible with your donations and, for that, we are immensely humbled by your support and unprecedented generosity.

We’re very happy that you are on-board with us and we look forward to sharing the journey, via the blog, on the build up to the River Gambia Expedition 2012 proper – i.e. when we actually get the paddles into the river – and onwards. Your support will help us to be able to document – through multiple medias: visual/written/audio – the lives of the indigenous people who live and work on the course of one of Africa’s last big, free-flowing, rivers; over 1000km’s – from the source of the river, where it trickles out of the Fouta Djallon highlands of Guinea, on into hippo-abundant Niokolo Koba National Park, Senegal, and finally into The Republic of the Gambia and the Atlantic Ocean – the rivers end.

You can watch, and learn, as Jason Florio explains how you can own one of his fine art photography prints, from a series of images he will take whilst on the River Gambia Expedition 2012:

Limited edition 2012 expedition prints – coming to all those who have donated $100/£65 and over (once we return from the river). And, we could be holding up a banner, with your name/website on it, on this very island, below, in The Gambia, West Africa, soon!

Find out why we are doing this: ‘River Gambia Expedition 2012 – 1000km source to sea African odyssey’ and how to donate ‘An Exchange: donations for fine art prints from the ‘River Gambia Expedition 2012′ by award-winning photographer, Jason Florio

Love, Respect & BIG, HUGE Thanks!

The Florios (Jason & Helen) x

Kunta Kinteh Island (formally James Island), The Gambia, West Africa

Patty & Tim Mack - New Orleans (Captain Patricia Mack – a 9/11 hero. Please click on her name to find out how Florio photographed her during the madness of that fateful day)

Robert ‘Rob’ Jones – Fort Myers, Florida, USA Robert ‘Rob’ Jones – Fort Myers, Florida, USA “Here’s a little help…I will be following your adventure. Be safe doing the good work. Your friend, Bob”

The Cohen’sYaffa, Nachem et al – our Greenwich Village ‘family’, NYC & Israel

Ted SonnierHouston, Texas, USA

Ryan HeffernanPhotographer – Santa Fe & San Francisco, USA “It looks like an incredible journey. Hope it all falls into place.”

Ellen Hunter Mai - Somalia Report – Orange County, California, USA “I’m so excited for you both and quite proud! I wish all the best for a safe and productive expedition”

Somalia Report

Monica Pozzi – global – photography “Following you on all channels and very jealous of your expedition despite the mosquitos. 24 bites simultaneously my record. Take me with you and you won’t get bitten! They always love me wherever I go!”

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Christy NielsenWashington State, USA – 4th Wall Relief, Burma

Thelma & Sandy Youngson, Scarborough, North Yorkshire, UK

David Willems - Photographer – New York, USA. “Thanks for the inspiring promise of the expedition’s results; can’t wait to see the photos! I wish I could be there and hopefully I’ll be brave enough to make such an endeavor myself one day”

Gabriella NissenPhotographer – Houston, Texas, USA. “You are welcome for the donation. I hope you both have a successful expedition”

Krista Dills – Atlanta, Georgia, USA “Good luck you two! Be Safe! Can’t wait to read the stories and see the pictures.”

Josh DickPhotographer- Brooklyn, NY, USA“Good luck guys. Safe travels and enjoy. I look forward to following your progress and seeing the work.”

Michael Mut & The LOVE YOURSELF Project – Brooklyn, NYC, USA

Love Yourself Project Logo

Suzy PetersHampstead Village, London, UK. “Can I come?!”

Amanda Hewitt - Woolacombe, N Devon, UK

Karen Russo & CocoGreenwich Village, NYC, USA. “Best wishes on your journey! Can’t wait to see your photographs and read your writing!”

Julie Grahame – aCurator - Brooklyn, NY, USA. “You guys rock!”


Thomas Donley – Photographer - New York, NY, USA. “I wish you and your entire team, very well. Here’s to great adventures!!! I look forward to the updates…Enjoy! Enjoy Enjoy!”

Elizabeth FroemkeNew York, NY, USA ” I’m so excited about the expedition! Such an awesome idea. Will be checking in regularly and wish you both the most wonderful trip!”

Claire & Glenn PottQueensland, AustraliaSounds like you will be having an amazing journey. We look forward to reading all your updates (before, during and after!). Good luck Jason and Helen. Sending lots of Aussie love and well wishes!”

David and Lucie Coke (and Mnr Albert!) – Sloatsburg, NY, USA “To get you on your way you hairy bikers!”

Doris Perez Torres – USA

Rosalind Harris & Stella’s School Sponsorship Scheme- Cheltenham, Gloucester, UK/The Gambia – ‘Best of luck for your amazing adventure!

Jonathan Fine,Freed Pictures, & Diane Blain Fine Photography – New York, USA & The Gambia, West Africa‘Good luck on the incredible journey’

Kristen Wendt – New York, NY, USA ‘Your expeditions are so inspiring and I so enjoy hearing your stories…safe travels to you both. I can’t wait to read more as you guys begin your trip!’

Sari Goodfriend – Photographer – New York, NY, USA

Maggie Soladay -Photographer- New York, NY, USA ‘I was thinking.. whats stopping me. I own too many shoes and no Florios. So done. Can’t wait to see what you two come back with. Sounds so wonderful, and tough, and mysterious, and important. Sincerely Maggie’ + check out Salaam Garage Local

Dimiter Kenarov - Photographer – Istanbul, Turkey ‘Good luck!’

Peter FahrniForward Thinking MuseumNYC, USA

David CicconeTrunk MagazineNYC, USA

Grant CliffordBookMeQuick.comLondon, UK

Jane Coxwell – Chef & Author – New York, USA

Richard Glynn © ‘Wideyed’ - Photography collective - Darlington, UK, Good luck with the rest of the fundraising! A small donation from a fellow photographer”

Devin Friedman & Danielle Pergament – Jounalists – Brooklyn, NY, USA

Ross Morganstein – New York, USA – Good luck guys!

Fiona Cullinan - Journalist – Birmingham, UK“Sounds like a wonderful expedition! Great to see you making it happen, despite the collapse in media budgets! Looking forward to seeing the reports and your new fine art photography collection (from the expedition)”

Imke Oster & Benick Oster – New York, USA - ‘So excited about your trip and experience – I will be sitting in my office vicariously living through you – be careful!’

Linda Levit – New York, USA

Oskar LandiPhotographer – Brooklyn, NY, USA

Michel Delsol – Photographer - NYC, USA - ‘Bon Voyage! Wishing you all the best on your adventures’

Andy NeedhamUNHCRNairobi, Kenya, East Africa.Hi Jason, Helen, stay clear of the crocs! Keep away from things with sharp teeth! All the best, Andy’

Rabart – Bath, UK

Penelope Hartnell – New York, NY, USA

Giorgio Sgobbi – Rome, Italy

Noreen MeehanCrystal Palace, London, UK

Austyn StevensNew York, NY, USA

Matthew Fishbane - Journalist -New York, NY, USA -‘Goodspeed, kids! Now get out there and kick some butt!’

Raymond Jarrell - DJ – New York, NY, USA

Karl and Janna LeBlanc – Rockledge, Florida, USA

Jean-Philippe Minart – Film Maker – (Jawa) - Paris, France ‘We did not took the pirogue (through Niokolo Koba) and made our trip by the road. So bring back the images ! I’m dying to see them ! appreciated’

Susan Levin - Art Director/Producer & Bruce Levin - Photography Management Agency - New York City, NY, USA‘We’ll be following you every step of the way!
All our love. Be safe, enjoy, and holler if you want company!

Stéphanie Carron – Documentary Producer – Paris, France

George and AnnaLee Pauls – Photoduplication Coordinator, Rare Books and Special Collections Princeton University – New Jersey, USA ‘Dear Jason and Helen, This is exciting! I hope that the Mungo Park map from Princeton might get to play some role in your expedition. I wish you the best of luck on the journey and look forward to following your progress!

Annie & Ken Godin – Montreal, Canada – ‘Hi guys! Ken and Annie from Montreal (friends of David and Lucie… :) ) wish you both all the best on this amazing journey. We are looking forward to seeing all these fabulous (we are sure they will be) photographs! Hope we can catch a drink at the Ear Inn next time we’re in NY! :) Bon voyage! Annie and Ken XXX’

Scott Overholser – Photographer – New York, NY, USA

Robert Goldstein – Photographer – Camden, London, UK‘All The Best’-Robert

Teru Kuwayama - Photographer – New York City, NY, USA

Keith Devisser and Partners – Accountants – New York City, NY, USA

Michael Mallinson – Toronto, Canada

P.S. We’ll be updating this as and when. Please let us have any links – i.e. to websites, blogs, FB, Twitter – that you wish to link you name with.