Meet the press : aCurator, Geographical Magazine, VQR, Trunk Mag, Flak Photo, Dangerous Magazine, BBC, Stella Zine, National Geographic, GUP Mag, Outside, Life Force Mag, Travel Africa…

Thanks for the press!

We are just updating our ‘Meet the Press’ page, here on the ‘River Gambia Expedition – 1044km source-sea African odyssey‘ blog, with the latest from Geographical Magazine – we got the cover, with one of Florio’s last images of our long journey, from his ‘River Gambia‘ series. And we were was astounded at the considerable amount of great international press we’ve garnered over the last couple of years, leading up to, during, and post both expeditions – our first one being in 2009 : ‘A Short Walk in the Gambian Bush – 930km African odyssey’, which produced an award-winning body of work ‘Silafando‘ – Florio’s formal portraits of Gambian village chiefs and elders, who we stayed with, and which he took at the end of each day of our walk.

Screen Shot 2013-11-21 at 11.44.12 AM

Geographical Magazine - Cover shot © Jason Florio

With huge gratitude from both of us, all of the following and more have helped to share our journeys worldwide : aCurator, Geographical Magazine, Virginia Quarterly Review, Trunk Magazine, Flak Photo, BBC News in Pictures, National Geographic, Outside Magazine, GUP Magazine, Life Force Magazine, Dangerous Magazine, Stella Zine, Africa Geographic, Arik Airlines, Foto Care Blog, The War Diaries, Travel Africa Magazine, G-Layer Magazine, The Gambia Blog, Gothamist… . Read more about press, awards, and exhibitions here

Screen Shot 2013-09-17 at 4.21.54 PM

aCurator ‘River Gambia’ © Jason Florio

VQR Spring 2013 opening page_72dpi

VQR - Life on the River Gambia. Images © Jason Florio

We’re now looking forward to seeing what the near future brings and we hope that we’ll garner as much interest for our next venture(s) – which includes holding our first Gambian photography workshop, teaching young students, in December this year.

However, more on that shortly.

Onwards, upwards – and sometimes a little sideways…

The Florios (H & ‘Flo’)

H-Flo-Mali Ville_DSF1331 copy

H & Florio - on top of the world – Mali Ville, Fouta Djallon Highlands, Guinea-Conakry, West Africa



Youtube: ‘River Gambia’ footage from a 1044km African odyssey – and other African journeys by Jason Florio & Helen Jones-Florio


Youtube: River Gambia © Jason Florio & Helen Jones-Florio

Painted Faces_MG_2947

‘Boys with Painted Faces‘ River Gambia © Jason Florio

River Gambia Expedition – 1044km source-sea African odyssey‘ with photographer/writer, Jason Florio, and, producer/writer, Helen Jones-Florio. A journey, spanning three West African countries, to find the source of the River Gambia and to document the lives of those people who live, work, and rely on this mighty African river.

Interview with Outside Magazine – ‘Expedition Improv‘  HelenWe actually offered him (Yousef, our Malian fisherman/guide/hippo expert) more money to come further along the river with us but he had a family to get back to in Kédougou. We were sad to see him go. In that short week, he became a member of our little team, albeit a slightly bonkers one

Jason: “At one point, he was guiding us through these sections of rock and fast-moving water, and about 20 feet in front of us, a hippo just comes rearing out of the water. It had been submerged. We had startled it. We could have gone over the back of this thing, but instead we scrambled very quickly over onto the bank and climbed up on some rocks. For the next hour, he spent time shooting rocks at it from a homemade catapult. The thing wouldn’t move. We were back there clinging to the bushes and the rocks for an hour and a half. The hippo just didn’t want to let us get by—watching us, watching it, watching us. Eventually, we just kind of clung to the undergrowth and just pulled the canoe through really slowly. Finally, we got past him. That was a serious crash course in hippo etiquette” Read full interview here

To read about our first West African journey - ‘A Short Walk in the Gambian Bush – 930km African odyssey .Images of the village chiefs (Alkalos) and elders, ‘Silafando’, which were taken along the way, by Jason Florio.

Florio – interview with FlakPhoto – Making Pictures of People  “I had been working yearly in The Gambia since 1996 making portraits of people who live in a sacred forest. My wife Helen came up with the idea of making the first recorded circumnavigation of The Gambia by foot. So with three Gambians and two donkeys, we headed off around the country in November 2009. I decided to work in the same style as with the forest portraits, using a 70-year old cloth to formalize the setting.” full interview and images here

Screen Shot 2013-10-03 at 10.50.18 AM

Youtube – Florio makes a portrait of Alkalo Landing Jammeh, Kalaji, The Gambia – footage by Helen Jones-Florio

We’ll be updating soon on our next African journey…please stay with us

The Florios


Day 1: ‘River Gambia’ opens wide it’s shipping container doors – Snapshots from Photoville 2013, Brooklyn, New York

Doors Open_Photoville 20130919_999_8

Opening time at Photoville – Astrid Verhoef (our Dutch neighbor) from ‘Keep on Dreaming‘ gets ready to welcome the press and public. 

Day 1: ‘River Gambia‘ at Photoville, 2013 – Brooklyn, New York (how to get here)

Andre_photoville 20130919_999_13

First – and very welocme – guests, Andre Washington and his daughter, Aziza

Screen Shot 2013-09-20 at 11.59.14 AM

Exclusive to Photoville, 2013 – ‘River Gambia’ footage © Jason Florio & Helen Jones-Florio

Amber Sari Oskar_photoville 20130920_999_19 copy

Our lovely friends come along to support: Amber Terranova, Sari Goodfriend, Oskar Landi (we missed you, Lesley Noville!)

Photoville night 20130920_999_16 copy

Photoville nightly slideshows – oerlooked by a very impressive Manhattan skyline

Amber flo Floyds photoville 20130920_999_27 copy

Post 1st day at Photoville – some much needed r ‘n’ r : Oskar (in his element, playing Bocce), Florio (what are you doing with that scarf, Flo?) and Amber (shows the boys how to do it!) at Floyds, Atlantic Avenue, Brooklyn

Screen Shot 2013-09-20 at 10.27.00 AM

The Gothamist at Photoville 2013 – image © Jason Florio ‘Hawa – rice cutter’ ‘River Gambia

And, thank you so much to Chris Bartlett for taking our portrait yesterday – ‘The King and I’ springs to mind..we are honored, Chris x

H and Flo_chris B

Florio and H – with ‘Ebrima in Fur’ – Photoville 2013, Brooklyn, NY

See you at Photoville!

The Florios (H & Flo)

P.S. come and check out our exclusive-to-Photoville-ONLY ‘Jason Florio’ print offers, from our three West Africa journies: ‘River Gambia‘, ‘Silafando‘, and ‘Makasutu

Screen Shot 2013-09-17 at 4.39.21 PMRiver Gambia‘ at Photoville, 2013, presented by VQR


PRESS: Flakphoto ‘Making Pictures of People’ – Recent Perspectives on Photographic Portraiture

Flakphoto_chiefsflakphoto2_chiefs‘Making Pictures of People’ Recent Perspectives on Photographic Portraiture Presented by FlakPhoto in association with The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art.

Tell us about these pictures – interview with Jason Florio I made these portraits of Gambian Alkalos (village chiefs) and elders during a 42-day, 930km circumnavigation of The Republic of The Gambia, West Africa by foot…” read more here

Big thanks to Andy Adams/Flakphoto for including Jason Florio in ‘Making Pictures of People‘ – featuring the portraits of village chiefs and elders, from our 2009 expedition: ‘A Short Walk in the Gambian Bush - 930km African odyssey‘, which became an award-winning body of work called ‘Silafando’



‘Silafanda – a gift to you on behalf of my journey’ Labé, Fouta Djallon Highlands, Guinea

HANDS-kola nuts-LABE_MG_0563

Kola nut vendor, Labé market © Jason Florio - Fouta Djallon Highlands, Guinea-Conakry


Kola nut vendor, Labé market © Jason Florio - Fouta Djallon Highlands, Guinea-Conakry

Random post of the day:

Silafando: is the traditional way to greet village chiefs in The Gambia and Senegal. In Guinea-Conakry, on our most recent expedition, we found out that the tradition was exactly the same there but they used the word ‘Silafanda’.

During both the ‘A Short Walk in the Gambian Bush – 930km African odyssey’ and the ‘River Gambia Expedition – 1000km source-sea African odyssey‘, despite turning up unannounced, each village chief (the ‘Alkalo‘) that we met would kindly permit our raggle-taggle, road or river-weary, team to pitch our small camp every evening.

This was because we showed due respect, as strangers, when approaching the alkalo, by using the age-old tradition and protocol called ‘silafando’ – which roughly translates as ‘a gift to you on behalf of my journey’. This gift is often a handful of the bitter kola nuts. These walnut-sized nuts play an important role in West African culture and traditional social life. Once accepted, the chief would then share the nuts with his most important village elders. They break open and chew the nuts – valued for their pharmacological properties – which act as a natural stimulant and, apparently, an aphrodisiac.

Kola nuts - hands_short walk

© Jason Florio – The Gambia, West Africa. ‘A Short Walk in the Gambian Bush

We were then warmly welcomed into the village and, from that point on, everyone knows that you are there as guests of the alkalo -  ensuring that you are treated with respect, as strangers, for the duration of your stay in the village. And, if any of the villagers dare to disrespect his guests, they would have the chief to answer to – along with the shame it would bring to their family.

Helen presents the ‘Silafando’ to the village chief in the Fouta Djallon Highlands of Guinea-Conakry. As you will see, it is often a lengthy process – particularly in this case, because we had to explain to the chief (and get permission) why we wanted to visit the source of the River Gambia – a sacred site, very near to his village

Screen Shot 2013-06-25 at 3.04.43 PM

Youtube: Helen presents kola nuts to the village chief, Fouta Djallon Highlands. Film © Jason Florio & Helen Jones-Florio. Click here or on above image to view footage


Trunk Magazine receive SPD silver medal award: Jason Florio’s portrait series of Gambian chiefs and elders

Screen Shot 2013-05-13 at 10.07.36 AM


The Society of Publication Designers just awarded Trunk Magazine on three different categories – one of which, we are very proud to say, was a Silver Medal for Jason Florio’s portraits of Gambian village chiefs and elders (‘Silafando‘); which were taken whilst on our 2009 expedition – ‘A Short Walk in the Gambian Bush – 930km African odyssey’

NYC slideshow and discussionTuesday May 14th (tomorrow!) 6.30-8pm – at Foto Care :  Jason Florio, Helen Jones Florio will present a slideshow of images from their most recent expedition – ‘River Gambia Expedition-1000km source-sea African odyssey‘ – with questions from Stella Kramerfurther details can be found here

Screen Shot 2013-04-25 at 11.14.09 AM

Photographer, Jason Florio, ‘Silafando’ NY exhibition: award-winning portraits of Gambian village chiefs and elders

Rush Arts flierA solo exhibit of Jason Florio’s award-winning portraits of Gambian village chiefs (‘alkalo’s) and elders, taken whilst on our 2009 expedition – A Short Walk in the Gambian Bush-930km African odyssey- starts this Saturday, March 23, 2013. Venue: Rush Arts/Corridor Gallery, Brooklyn, New York

#trunkmag ‘How sexy is this! @floriophotoNYC Jason Florio’s Gambian portraits layout coming off press for Trunk F/W ’12 issue’

November/December Press – 2012

Talk about serendipity. Here we are back in The Gambia, about to embark on the ‘River Gambia Expedition – 1000km source to sea African odyssey’, and Trunk Magazine are featuring Florio’s portraits of Gambian chiefs and elders in their next edition, which he took whilst we were on our last West Africa expedition – ‘A Short Walk in the Gambian Bush – a 930km African odyssey’

We’ll be posting an update shortly about our delayed leaving date for Guinea – and the start of the River Gambia Expedition. Right now, we are being held up by the freight company’s, shipping our gear down here, boat being delayed – by over 2 weeks so far! Anyway…more on that once we have spoken to the shipping company again today.
On a great note, and one word: OBAMA!!

Thanks for stopping by

The Florios (H & Flo)

2009 West Africa Expedition -Youtube: Jason Florio photographs Gambian village chiefs, The Gambia

Jason Florio Photographs Gambian Village Chiefs, The Gambia, West Africa 2009 – from ‘A Short Walk in the Gambian Bush – a 930km African odyssey’click image to view. Filmed by Helen Jones-Florio for ‘Wobbly Productions’ (and mucky lens’!)

From our 2009 expedition A Short Walk in the Gambian Bush – a 930km African odyssey’, we shot this footage when we stayed with Alkalo (village chief) Landing Jammeh of Khalaji village – who can be seen in the video (tall man, wearing a blue and white grand bubu – and pictured below) kindly ‘assisting’ Florio whilst he made a portrait of the neighbouring Alkalo, Julu Sanyang.

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

The photo shoot resulted in what became an award-winning body of work for Florio – called ‘Silafando – a gift to you on behalf of my journey’ : the traditional method of greeting village chiefs and elders, when you meet them and ask something from them (in our case, to ask permission to camp in their villages and for Florio to make the portraits). We found out about this cultural tradition from one of our team mates, Samba Leigh, when we arrived in The Gambia, to prep for the walk.

Excerpt from Helen Jones-Florio’s forthcoming book ‘A Short Walk in the Gambian Bush - minty abanta!’:

‘Nevertheless, and more importantly as it turned out, Samba introduced us to the traditional intricacies of ‘Silafando’. The age-old tradition was something that we were not aware of and perhaps would never have been, but for Samba’s cultural knowledge on local protocol and tradition. “We need to plan our route so that we arrive in a village at the end of each day of walking” he told us “then we have to ask the permission of the Alkalo (the village chief) if we can set up our camp in his compound or in the village”. Protocol dictates that the Alkalo has a duty to welcome travelers and strangers, but only after the correct procedure is followed. This is what is known as ‘Silafando’ – which roughly translates as ‘a gift to you on behalf of my journey’ and involves presenting the village chief with a gift – traditionally, a handful of kola nuts; bitter, walnut sized nuts. These nuts play an important roll in Gambian traditional culture and social life. Once the gift is given, the Alkalo shares them with his closest village elders. They break open the nuts and chew them. They are valued for their apparent pharmacological properties – acting as a natural stimulant and, allegedly, as an aphrodisiac.’

‘Silafando’ – giving of Kola Nuts © Jason Florio

To find out how you can get involved in ‘An Exchange’ - and get one of Jason Florio’s fine art photography prints, please check the photographer (and River Gambia Expedition 2012 co-leader) himself on Youtube:

Please click on image to view

More updates, photos and stories coming soon…

The Florios (Helen & Flo)

Outdoor gear anyone? Our equipment ‘Wish List’ is getting shorter (thanks to all our fantastic gear sponsors!), for the River Gambia Expedition. BUT…we still need a few more items

‘River Gambia Expedition 2012 – 1000km source to sea Africa odyssey’ team thanks all our product sponsors, backers and collaborators for all their unprecedented support and product donations. We are extremely grateful and thankful – you are all helping us make this cultural documentary expedition happen.

Overboard-The leaders in waterproof bags and cases. Image of Helen © Jason Florio

Alas, we still have a number of items that we’d really appreciate some help with – whether through total product sponsorship or expedition discount from suppliers and manufacturers. All sponsors will receive full coverage, in all our social media outlets (here on the blog, FB, Twitter, Tumblr, Website), along with mentions in press interviews, wherever/whenever we can get a plug in there. And, our multi award-winning photographer, and expedition co-leader, Jason Florio, (FRGS: Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society) will get great shots for all of our product sponsors of their donated gear, in use – whilst we are the on the river and trekking in the bush, down in West Africa – to use for their own marketing purposes.

NEWS FLASH-SEPTEMBER 2012: Florio receives ‘Honorable Mention’ in the prestigious International Photography Awards 2012. In 2010 he came First Place in the ‘People/Fine Art Category’ for his portraits of Gambian village chiefs and elders, which he took whilst on our 2009 expedition: ‘A Short Walk in the Gambian Bush – a 930km African odyssey’

See recent press, for the River Gambia Expedition 2012 here

SteriPEN™ - Sidewinder UV Water Filter. Image © Jason Florio

We have some great product sponsors and backers on board so far (and more in the pipeline – update on that shortly) – including:Goal Zero, Mountain Boot Company, SteriPEN™ , Yellowbrick™ , Peliproducts UK™ , Teva™, Overboard™ , DPxGear™ , The Gambia Experience™ , Tamarack Outdoors™
Opencast Software

Outside Magazine – Adventure Lab/Expedition Watch: ‘The River Gambia, From Source to Sea’ Check it out – award-winning photographer and expedition co-leader, Jason Florio, manages to get a plug for our sponsors and backers in his interviews about the River Gambia Expedition 2012

Publications which we contribute to include: Backpacker Magazine, Outside Magazine, AFAR Magazine, The Independent, Virginia Quarterly Review (VQR), Men’s Journal, Let’s Be Wild Magazine, Travel Africa Magazine (‘Summer 2012′ edition featured 8 pages of Jason Florio’s Gambian chiefs and elders from our 2009 expedition), Adventure Travel Magazine

Here’s what we are wishing for – ‘Our Wish List’:

1 x 16-17ft folding canoes (Ally or PakBoat or equivalent) – our single biggest expense. We have one already but need one more for our two West African team mates, Abdou and Ibu.

The ’811 16.5′ Ally Folding Canoe by Bergan’s of Norway. Image © Helen Jones-Florio

UPDATE-SEPT: 4 x Buoyancy Aids/Life Jackets – Crewsaver on board!

1 x Toughbook laptop & battery pack – needs to be durable, shock-protected, waterproof

UPDATE-SEPT: 1 x GoalZero™ – solar charging panel and battery – Goal Zero on board!

1 x GoPro HD2 Hero Camera (sponsoring pending)

Satellite Phone (sponsoring pending)

1 x Adventure Medical Kit – i.e. Life Systems ‘Mountain Leader’ – or expedition/adventure-style medical supplies suitable

4 x Gerber or Leatherman multi-tools

1 x Two-man tent + 2 x One-man tent (or 2 x two-man tents)

3 x 2-3 season sleeping bags

UPDATE-SEPT: 1 x Lightweight camping stove – Kelly Kettle onboard!

Ready-made meals – i.e. ‘Expedition Foods’™ or ‘Travel Foods’™

UPDATE SEPT: 2 x Mosquito net hammocks – field testing for ‘Backpacker Magazine’

4 x Mosquito hats

2 x ActionPacker™ Cargo Boxes (or equivalent)

4 x Lightweight rain jackets/ponchos (3 men, 1 woman – sizes on request)

2 x Pairs of hiking boots (for tropical climates for our two West African team mates)

4 x Sets of quick-dry clothing

If anyone can help, in any way, or recommend us to suppliers for any of the above items, we’d greatly appreciate it. Contact: for full information on product sponsorship.

Please help spread the word.

And, for those who don’t already know…here are the why, where, what’s and who’s

Thanks a million to every single person and company who have supported us – we truly wouldn’t be able to do this expedition without your help.

The Florios (Jason & Helen)

Expedition Team Leaders

Please click on above image to watch Jason Florio on Vimeo, talking about the expedition and ‘An Exchange’ - limited edition fine art prints for donations