Thanks to Peli Products UK for keeping our gear dry on the River Gambia!

Florio oversees our previous cargo - Redcoat depot, Nr Gatwick Airport

Florio oversees our precious cargo on the start of what would be a very long seafaring journey indeed- including the ‘1690′ Peli Product UK case – Redcoat depot, Nr Gatwick Airport, UK – Oct 2012. Image © Helen Jones-Florio

As Florio and I shift through hundreds of images, to see what we want to put in our forthcoming book about the ‘River Gambia Expedition‘ (it’s a difficult task – every single image has it’s own story to tell), it’s reminding us of all those companies who supported our journey. We just came across some of these images: Peli Products UK – their ‘rugged, watertight, dustproof, crushproof, buoyant, corrosion-proof‘ cases ensured that our cameras, batteries, laptops, hard-drives, journals, communication devises, etc., didn’t get ruined if they got inadvertently dumped in the river – which is what almost happened on our first day in the water!

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‘The Twins‘ (Ally 811 canoes) into the River Gambia for the first time, Kedougou, Senegal

Even though we had to leave for the expedition, without our big 1690 Peli case of gear – due to the case getting ‘lost’ for almost three months, somewhere between Belgium and Banjul Port – we still had our two rugged  Peli 1520 cases and the Peli head torces – invaluable when trying to find a place to pee in the middle of a moonless night in the African bush!


And, of course for reading when there is no electricity (which was most of the time) – Helen and her Peli head torch, Kedougou, Senegal © Jason Florio

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Our 1520 Peli Product UK cases also make great seats! Image © jason FlorioSila Kounda, Senegal

Peli cases_Basse_DSF3094 copy

Florio and the 1520 Peli Product UK cases, New Years Eve in Basse, The Gambia, West Africa © Helen Jones-Florio

Jason Florio at Bonto pier

The day before last – Florio with our 1520 Peli Product UK cases, Bonto, The Gambia © Helen Jones-Florio

Peli 1620 Sandele_DSF4419

A sight for sore eyes – the 1690 Peli Product UK case – we thought we would never see you again! The Gambia © Helen Jones-Florio

H & Flo Gatwick _MG_9385

It’s been a long journey back to Gatwick – Feb 2013 – this time weren’t letting that Peli UK 1690 case out of our sight!

I’m sure we’ll come across many more of the great cases in action but, in the meantime, HUGE THANKS to Gill Lack and all at Peli Products UK for their support of the ‘River Gambia Expedition – 1000km source-sea African odyssey

Now…we wade through more images and journal entries for the book – we’ll post a few taster’s here and there, plus we’ll be posting more thanks to the other businesses who helped us along the way. And, we haven’t forgotten all those people who donated in exchange for prints! To you lot, we are eternally thankful.


The Florios

Transform obstacles – River Gambia Expedition leaving date in sight – at last! Guinea here we come!

A rather apt ‘Thought for the Day’ appeared in my inbox yesterday:

Transform Obstacles
Is life an obstacle course? Sometimes it may feel like it. If you join the military you will be sent around an obstacle course of increasing degrees of difficulty. Why? To increase your strength and stamina and expand your creative capacity under strain. So it is on the course called ‘life’ – you can choose to perceive people, situations or events as obstacles, or you can choose to use these things to strengthen and expand your capacity to be creative and to find ways round, under, over. The choice lies in your perception. Obstacles are never ever ‘out there’, they are always in our own minds.

Will we ever see you again, Peli case?

Despite waiting over two weeks for our shipment of precious cargo to arrive – and now to find out that it’s not coming-anytime-soon either – we are determined to push forward with the River Gambia Expedition. For one thing, we can’t afford not to! This is work, after all. Not some jolly – messing about in the West African bush and on the river – at our own leisure. Secondly, we have to get back home, to New York, sometime this millennium! By the time we get back, we’ll have been away for 8 months – and my Green Card is up for review in March 2013!! I can imagine the stern-faced immigration officer on our arrival back into JFK: ‘So, Mrs Jones-Florio, can you please explain how we were gracious enough to grant you a green card and then you desert the US for 8 months? Do you not like the USA? And, are you aware that your Green Card is up for review very shortly?’.

Little did we know…

We have sat and waited here in The Gambia – each day we should have been on the River Gambia Expedition passing by – receiving varying reports on the whereabouts of our errant container. However, we need to emphasis that this isn’t the fault of Redcoat, who very kindly agreed to ship our gear down here for free – and who have been shipping to West Africa for over 20 years (I’ve shipped stuff with them over the years with no problem whatsoever). They are equally as frustrated as we are, with the middle-men shipping company who take on the responsibility of the container, once it has left UK waters.

Then yesterday, when we heard that the shipment might be another 3 weeks(!), we made the painful decision to pull the plug on the wait for our Peli box and Overboard bag – stuffed with essential gear – and go with Plan B. Ermmm…except we didn’t exactly have a Plan B… as such. Nonetheless, after putting our heads together, we made a few calls, checked with Redcoat to see if they could fly some replacement gear down here for us this week – which they thankfully agreed to – we searched the internet for cheap alternatives to replace the absolute essentials (our already tight budget didn’t take into account having to replace our gear and/or staying here in The Gambia two weeks more than we needed to be. A big lesson – learned the hard/expensive way), to be delivered overnight to Jason’s parents/the in-laws (thanks Wendy & Rodger for their help! Again! ).

All that said, we’ve been keeping ourselves busy here in The Gambia – Tobaski festival; filming the Tolleh Kaafo and melodic Kora players. More on the latter coming very shortly.

Florio – the Pied Piper of Kartong beach – and the Tolleh Kaafo group, The Gambia, West Africa © Helen Jones-Florio

We got a reaffirming message from author, Tim Butcher, the other day, who has written about, and travelled extensively through, Africa:

‘Hey Helen – have you been able to start your trip yet? Has all the gear arrived? Don’t be disheartened. When Graham Greene trekked Salone and Liberia he left his entire medicine chest back in Freetown. Good luck’ TimB

Thanks Tim, for reminding us of what’s truly important.

So, our leaving date to drive to Guinea, to begin, is in sight again – we are aiming for the middle of next week – once we get our transport pinned down. And, we are more than ready for it – to get this party started – just as our Gambian team mates, Abdou and Ebu are too. Over goat domada, the local spicy peanut stew, at Abdou’s compound the other day he stated in his no nonsense way, plainly: ‘we must just go now and then we come back’. Wise words, Mr Ndong. We’re looking forward to the journey with them both.

As always, thanks for stopping by. Please continue to do so for updates as and when we have more news

The Florios (H & Flo)

If you’d like to check out more of Flo’s work, please visit his website

Thanks to Redcoat Express (‘Overboard’ and ‘Peli UK’!) – a shipment of River Gambia Expedition gear is on route to West Africa

‘How the hell are we going to get all this stuff in one Peli Case?!’ Florio muses – Image © Helen Jones-Florio

It’s with a big thanks to Lloyd at Redcoat, based down near Gatwick Airport, that a chunk of our River Gambia Expedition gear will be beginning it’s own journey tomorrow, by boat via the Atlantic Ocean, to Banjul Port in The Gambia, West Africa. We’ll then, hopefully, be able to pick it up around the 20th October – a few days after we fly down there.

Redcoat also kindly helped us out on our 2009 expedition – through Gambia Experience‘A Short Walk in the Gambian Bush’, by flying some of our heavier gear down to Banjul.

Packing the essentials – especially the Clif Bars! Hey, we’ve gotta have some treats! Image © Jason Florio

A little product placement – and a BIG thanks from us – for some of the companies who have very generously supported us: Overboard™, Goal Zero™ and Peli Products UK

Overboard waterproof bags – on board – carrying more essentials for us. Image © Helen Jones-Florio

The Peli is finally closed, ready to go…sending it with LOVE (Yourself Project)

Florio oversees our precious cargo – Redcoat depot, Nr Gatwick Airport – Image © Helen Jones-Florio

Wave bye bye’ Helen & Lloyd (Redcoat) – Image © Jason Florio

Now we truly can feel, somewhat, that we are on our way…and it’s cathartic (albeit a little scary), letting some of our gear go – space clearing, if nothing else! But, we do have to deal with getting the gear released at the other end at Banjul Port, in The Gambia. We’ve heard many reports, over the years, of how notoriously difficult Banjul port authorities can be at times. However, we’ll cross that bridge when we get to it – also, Lloyd from Redcoat assures us that ‘it’ll be fine’. We’ll take his word for it then – and trust in their ethos!


‘REDCOAT has been offering airfreight services to The Gambia and Sierra Leone since 1976.

No other freight agent in the UK can offer you this experience and, with our own offices at destination, you can be sure we will look after your cargo from beginning to end.

Thanks again to Lloyd and Redcoat for their support.

Next stop The Gambia!

The Florios

If you’d like to support the River Gambia Expedition, we are in the throes of raising the last bit of funding that we need, through Kickstarter – and, there are rewards for those who do. Please check it out. We’ve had an amazing response, with thanks to everyone who has jumped on board so far.

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

Peli UK™ are on board! We have a couple of crushproof, Gorilla-proof(!), Peli Cases – wending their way to us, today.

‘Peli Cases – now Gorilla Proof!’

Peli Cases are Gorilla Proof!

‘Peli Cases – now Gorilla Proof!’ No gorilla, or baboon for that matter, is getting my chicken yassa on our River Gambia Expedition 2012!

We’re looking forward to receiving a couple of 1690 Pelican Cases, from Peli UK™ today. Peli Products have a great reputation for making the toughest protector cases in the world. They are also ‘waterproof and buoyant’…we are, after all, about to embark on a 1000km + River Gambia expedition – and Florio’s camera gear has to stay dry as a bone – if we are going to post our adventure photo’s, whilst on the journey, on here.

1690 Pelican Case

1690 Pelican Case

We’ll also be taking delivery of and a couple of Peli UK’s lightweight, compact and robust head torches - which definitely come in handy when you need to nip out of your tent in the middle of the darkest of nights, out in the West African bush!

And now for the a little techie info about Peli Products

For more than 30 years Peli has built a reputation for manufacturing the toughest Protector Cases in the world. These high quality, protective cases offer safe transportation for fragile or expensive equipment and are the choice of professionals.
• Watertight – Dustproof – Crushproof – Corrosion-proof – Buoyant
Rugged, reliable construction
Automatic pressure release valve
User-friendly features
48 models
Lifetime Guarantee
IP Rated

Thanks Peli UK™ for your collaboration in the ‘River Gambia Expedition 2012 – 1000km source to sea Africa odyssey’ – we’ll be posting action shots of the cases in use, in a few months time!

BIG Thanks to Gill and the Peli UK team!

H & Flo – The Florios

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