Our River Gambia Expedition leaving date is set! Thanks to The Gambia Experience for their support

At last!! We have a leaving date, to fly down to The Gambia, West Africa, to begin final preparations for our ‘River Gambia Expedition – 1000km source to sea African odyssey‘. 16th October is the date. And, it’s with BIG thanks to The Gambia Experience (and Serenity Holidays) for their continued support (GE also generously donated flights for our 2009 Gambia expedition). And, a special shout out to Jenny Adams, PR guru, and Matt Smith, The Gambia Blog , wordsmith extraordinaire – our main contacts at GE – for their continuous support. You guys truly do rock!

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

We’ll fly into Banjul’s Yundum International Airport and then spend around two weeks, last minute prepping with our Gambian team mates, Abdou and Ibu – meet the expedition 2012 team. From there, we will overland to Guinea, with the canoes, camera and camping gear. Leaving the bulk of our gear with a friend, the four of us – along with a local Guinean guide/fixer – we’ll pay homage to the source of the River Gambia and then begin trekking for 200 miles in the Fouta Djallon Highlands of Guinea, keeping as near to the river as we can. We’ll be staying in local villages, with the aim to document – through photography and video – the way of life of the people we meet along the way; with their permission, of course. After which, we’ll collect our canoes and get paddling!

That’s the plan so far…you’ll have to stick with us to get the updates, as events unfold. However, we just know, from experience, that we’ll definitely be meeting some interesting folks on this journey:

‘Ensa’ – young Gambian guide, holding cow head’ (slaughtered for ‘coming of age’ celebrations), in Myork, The Gambia, West Africa © Jason Florio, 2008

If you’d like to get one of expedition co-leader and award-winning photographer, Jason Florio’s, limited edition fine art photography prints from the River Gambia Expedition (or Florio’s on-line gallery), then check out our Kickstarter campaign – deadline 15th October 2012.

To find out why we are doing this documentary photography expedition, please click here.

We hope you enjoy the journey with us – we’ll be posting updates and images, on a regular basis, from trekking in the highlands and paddling down the River Gambia – thanks to our trusty YB3 Global Tracking Device from Yellowbrick™!

The Florios (Helen & Flo’)

19 days to go!! Please click on the image to view details

Update: Yellowbrick™ ‘YB3′ Tracking Device training with Nick Farrell…followed by lunch by the Swanwick Marina with Matt Smith (The Gambia Experience)

    'YB3' - Yellowbrick Tracking Device. Image © Jason Florio

‘YB3′- Our Yellowbrick Tracking Device. Image © Jason Florio

Update: 6th October 2012

We’re in the process of setting up the our YBlog – where you can go and see the tracking map of where we’ll be on our River Gambia Expedition. We’ll be pinging our location on a very regular basis, down in West Africa, thanks to the iridium technology that Yellowbrick Tracking Devices use

‘The Science bit…

The Iridium constellation has more satellites than any other commercial constellation. The 66 Iridium satellites are in a near-polar orbit at an altitude of 485 miles (780 km). They fly in formation in six orbital planes, each comprising 11 satellites, evenly spaced around the planet. Each Iridium satellite completely circles the Earth once every 100 minutes, traveling at 16,832 miles per hour, traveling from horizon to horizon across the sky in about ten minutes.’

Here’s the link to our YBlog – in the early stages, but we’ll be tracking our journey as soon as we get on the way, from the 16th October:

Yellowbrick 'YB3' Tracking Device - follow our (almost) every move on the expedition

Tracking coming soon – but please check out the blog in the meantime

Wednesday 12th September

We headed out of Surrey early this morning for the drive down to Southampton, to meet with Nick Farrell from Yellowbrick Tracking Devices. After frustratingly slow progress, in the rush hour traffic to get to the M3, we eventually made it down there with still enough time to spare to have breakfast at the huge Swanwick Marina in Old Burlesdon, on the Hamble Estuary – the rural and extremely photogenic village, where Nick lives, just outside of Southampton itself,

'Charlie'

‘Charlie’

As we approached the gate to Nick’s cottage, we were greeted by ‘Charlie’ – his large, affable and incredibly bouncy, Labradoodle. After introductions, and mugs of tea made, we settled down to get the low down on the YB3 Tracking Device that Nick and the guys at Yellowbrick have very kindly sponsored us with, for our River Gambia Expedition.

Nick Farrell - Yellowbrick Tracking

Nick Farrell – Yellowbrick Tracking

And, as stated on the website, the YB3 most certainly ‘packs a punch’. We can do all manner of things with this small, extremely lightweight (just over 300grams), robust, waterproof, global tracking device:

Features

  • 4-button keypad plus specific ‘alert’ button
  • Bright OLED screen for information display
  • Full 2-way communication system
  • Over-the-air reconfiguration of key parameters
  • USB connection for charging and for data transfer
  • Truly Global Operation, using the Iridium satellite network
  • Long battery life (over 2000 transmissions on a single charge)

We even get our very own Yellowbrick blog, which will be linked to ours, so that anyone who wants to can follow us can see where we are, through tracking wey-points on our route map, uploaded from the YB3 on a regular basis (to as little or often as we want to set this feature) – along with any images we choose to upload too – as we make our way over 1000kms, via canoeing on the River Gambia and trekking, through the Highlands of Guinea, Niokolo National Park, Senegal and The Republic of The Gambia, West Africa.

Example of one of the rowing teams route maps who Yellowbrick also sponsor

Example of one of the rowing teams route maps who Yellowbrick also sponsor

We can text message; tweet; update the blog; and, the feature that we hope we don’t ever have to press on the expedition is the red ‘Alert Button’. Before we leave, we will preset this feature with email addresses and phone numbers of people (family/friends) we choose to be contacted in the event of an emergency – with a capitalised message: ‘COME AND GET US!’!!

The 'Alert Button'

The ‘Alert Button’

After Nick’s very eloquent and precise instructions on using the YB3 (video footage coming soon), we walked the short distance, up the hill, towards the old part of the village to meet Matt Smith – the smart and articulate wordsman of The Gambia Blog. Matt works for The Gambia Experience – the company who have specialised in travel to West Africa for over 25 years and who have very kindly sponsored our return flights down to The Gambia.

Matt, Jenny Adams (Gambia Experience’s PR guru) and the guys have always been a big support in what we’ve been doing over the years. In fact, The Gambia Experience sponsored our flights in 2009 for our first West Africa expedition: ‘A Short Walk in the Gambian Bush – a 930km African odyssey’.

Matt Smith at The Jolly Sailor, Old Burlesdon

It was a pleasure to take some time to sit and converse with Matt – engaged and engaging conversation abounded – over a spot of lunch at The Jolly Sailor. Between him and Jenny, they have helped to spur us on with ideas, advice and continuous press coverage for our adventures over the last few years – which is always very much appreciated.

You don’t see many of these in downtown Manhattan. Image © Helen Jones-Florio

Reluctantly, bidding farewell to Matt (I think all three of us wished it was Friday afternoon – and not a mid-week ‘school day’ – when we could happily have carried on yakking over a couple of pints), we made our way back to Surrey, via Southampton and ‘Blacks’, where we managed to tick off a couple of Karrimor sleeping bags from our camping equipment list – for our Gambian team mates – in the very-end-of-season-sale.

Another productive day, indeed. Big thanks to Nick Farrell for the invaluable YB3 training – and, of course, for the device for our forthcoming River Gambia Expedition. I think we’ll be spending this weekend setting up the Yellowbrick blog and testing out tracking co-ordinates on the Wey Navigation (or even on The Thames – if our sponsored Crewsaver Buoyancy Aids arrive today!).

More updates coming soon…particularly one involving our actual leaving date for West Africa. Bring it on!

The Florios (H & Flo)

P.S. Watch Flo on Vimeo, talking all things River Gambia Expedition and how you can get involved and receive one of his limited edition fine art photography prints, from a series of images he will take on our forthcoming expedition, in ‘An Exchange’

Please click on the image to view

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

Press: Matt Smith interviews River Gambia Expedition 2012 leaders, Jason Florio & Helen Jones-Florio – ‘The Gambia Blog’

The Gambia Blog sharing over 25 years of experience in The Gambia’ – Matt Smith’s interview with us, about the ‘River Gambia Expedition 2012 – 1000km source to sea African odyssey’

The Gambia Blog (TGB): What role will photography play on this trip – will Jason be using the same methods that produced such fantastic images on the last walk?

Jason: A big reason for the journey is to share what we find on the way, so photography will be an essential tool in telling the stories of the people and cultures we meet along the river. The black cloth I used for the background of portraits on the last expedition may make another appearance – although the cloth is over 60 years old (it was my grandmother’s black out curtain during WWII in London) it’s getting a little fragile!

TGB: And lastly, what do you intend to do about all those hippos?!

Helen: ‘Slap the canoe paddles – as rapidly and as hard as possible – on the surface of the water, whenever we you see a hippo fully submerging!’ paraphrasing Richard Grant, adventurer and author of ‘Crazy River’, who I went to hear his reading of said book in New York a couple of months back. Apparently, the vibrations scare them away. Who knew. I keep (half) joking with Florio “can’t we just attach mechanical paddles to the canoes which, at the flick of a switch, beat the bloody water hard and fast?!! Either that, or have an outboard engine attached for a quick smart getaway!”

Please click on the link to read the entire interview

Thanks to Matt Smith, for his always great questions, and The Gambia Experience (one of our sponsors for the ‘River Gambia Expedition 2012-1000km source to sea Africa odyssey‘).

The Florios (Flo & H)

Please click on the image below to watch Jason Florio talk about how you can own one of his fine art photography prints, from the images he will take whilst on the journey:

Press: Interview with Matt Smith for ‘The Gambia Blog – sharing over 25 years of experience in The Gambia’

The Gambia Blog sharing over 25 years of experience in The Gambia’ – Matt Smith’s interview with us, about the ‘River Gambia Expedition 2012 – 1000km source to sea African odyssey’

The Gambia Blog (TGB): What role will photography play on this trip – will Jason be using the same methods that produced such fantastic images on the last walk?

Jason: A big reason for the journey is to share what we find on the way, so photography will be an essential tool in telling the stories of the people and cultures we meet along the river. The black cloth I used for the background of portraits on the last expedition may make another appearance – although the cloth is over 60 years old (it was my grandmother’s black out curtain during WWII in London) it’s getting a little fragile!

TGB: And lastly, what do you intend to do about all those hippos?!

Helen: ‘Slap the canoe paddles – as rapidly and as hard as possible – on the surface of the water, whenever we you see a hippo fully submerging!’ paraphrasing Richard Grant, adventurer and author of ‘Crazy River’, who I went to hear his reading of said book in New York a couple of months back. Apparently, the vibrations scare them away. Who knew. I keep (half) joking with Florio “can’t we just attach mechanical paddles to the canoes which, at the flick of a switch, beat the bloody water hard and fast?!! Either that, or have an outboard engine attached for a quick smart getaway!”

Please click on the link to read the entire interview

Thanks to Matt Smith, for his always great questions, and The Gambia Experience (one of our sponsors for the ‘River Gambia Expedition 2012-1000km source to sea Africa odyssey‘).

The Florios (Flo & H)

The Gambia Experience just donated the 2 x London-Banjul flights – from our ‘Wish List’

Wednesday 13th June

We are having a brilliant day on the donations front. Along with funding from individual sources coming in, we have just received another much needed donation from our Wish List’ - The 2 x London-Banjul, Return flights, from The Gambia Experience This will help bring our target amount down, that we need to raise – hopefully, if we continue to tick off items from our Wish List, we can donate more to the charity we are supporting. More details coming soon on that.

The Gambia Experience are seasoned travel agents for West Africa. And, they supported us massively, pre, during and post-expedition 2009. Not just with flights but also great press and pushing our cause. Therefore, we are more than happy to have them on board again.

Thanks Gambia Experience - especially PR guru, Jenny Adams, and, webmeister, Matt Smith! Find them on Twitter

The Florios (H & Flo)

The Gambia Experience

Links:

The Gambia Experience http://www.gambia.co.uk/

The Senegal Experience http://www.senegal.co.uk/

Serenity Holidays http://www.serenity.co.uk/

Wish List & Fundraising, 2012

Fundraising 2012

River Gambia route: Guinea-Senegal-The Gambia

1 River, 2 Borders, 3 Countries

Would you like an exclusive River Gambia 2012 Expedition Limited Edition Print from award-winning photographer Jason Florio?

As with our previous expedition (‘A Short Walk in the Gambian Bush – a 930km African odyssey’), we will be covering our own personal expenses for this expedition. However, what we really need help with is to raise funds for on-the-ground expenses. Our target is: *$11,000 USD – GBP: £7,200. Please click onto our ‘How to Donate’ page for full information on how your donation could get you one of Jason Florio’s, Limited Edition Expedition Prints and a photo of your name/website on a banner from West Africa… ‘How to Donate’

But, just to give you a taster of the ‘big’ things we need to help us along – and to reduce our target amount that we need to raise – leaving more in the pot for our chosen charity, Gardens for Life We’ll be setting up a separate donation page for this, once we have reached the amount we need to make the expedition happen:

  • Employment, food, and accommodation for two local River Gambia boatmen, plus guides and fixers in each of the other two countries – for the duration of 2-3 months
  • *2 x canoe’s – which, on completion of the expedition, will be donated to a local Gambian charity: Makasutu Wildlife Trust (these are on our Wish List – please see below for details on what we need)
  • *2 x Return tickets: London-Banjul, The Gambia – we will then travel by road, with the canoe’s, to Guinea, and the source of the River Gambia. (these are on our Wish List too! Please see below) – DONATED! THANK YOU ‘THE GAMBIA EXPERIENCE’/'SERENITY HOLIDAYS’/'THE SENEGAL EXPERIENCE’
  • *1 x Panasonic Toughbook™ laptop CF 52 or 53 Performance Model & battery pack (or equivalent – needs to be durable, shock-protected, waterproof – please see Wish List)
  • *Global Tracking Device – i.e. Yellow Brick 3™ (or equivalent – please see Wish List)
  • *4 x EpiPen™ (epinephrine auto-injector – please see Wish List)

*If we can persuade a few companies to donate some of the essential items from our Wish List, this will bring our target amount down quite considerably – which means we won’t have to raise the full $11,000/£7,200

Our Wish List

For anyone/company who kindly wishes to donate, or offer discount on purchases, for the following, this will help to bring our target amount down. Your name or company/logo/wesbite link will appear in our ‘thanks’ section on the blog – and all our other social media sites (FB/Twitter/Tumblr). We will also take a photo of your name/website – when we are on the River Gambia Expedition – which will also be posted onto the blog and all other social media sites.

Please email helen.jones@floriophoto.com for our full Product Sponsorship pdf.

Here’s what we are wishing for:

2 x 16-17ft folding canoes – ‘Ally’ 16 1/2ft folding canoe – or PakBoats™ ‘PakCanoe’ 170 folding canoe

2 x London-Banjul (The Gambia) return flights – DONATED – thanks to Gambia Experience/Serenity Holidays, UK!

1 x Panasonic Toughbook™ laptop CF 52 or 53 Performance Model & battery pack (or equivalent – needs to be durable, shock-protected, waterproof)

1 x Solar Gorilla Extreme™ – solar charging panel and battery

1 x Satellite Phone

1 x Global Tracking Device – i.e. Yellow Brick 3™ or The Spot™ or DeLorme ‘inReach™’

2 x Pelican™ Cases- TBC

1 x Two-man tent

2 x Mosquito net hammocks

2 x ActionPacker™ Cargo Boxes (or equivalent)

1 x SteriPEN™ – DONATED from SteriPEN with thanks!

4 x EpiPen™ (epinephrine auto-injector) TBC

4 x LED Head Torches – TBC

2 x Large Dry bags - DONATED WITH THANKS! Overboard.co.uk

2 x Medium Dry bags - DONATED WITH THANKS! OverBoard.co.uk

2012 Sponsors & Collaborations – to-date

Please visit our ‘How to Donate & Wish List’ page for updated sponsors list

Africa Geographic Safari Interactive MagazineOverboard.co.uk

SteriPen UV Water Purifiers

The Gambia Experience

DPx Gear

Mandina Lodges & Makasutu, The Gambia

Sandele Eco Lodge, The Gambia

2009 Sponsors and Collaborators included:

The Eden Project, Cornwall

Gambia Experience/Serenity Holidays

DPx Gear™ (Robert Young Pelton – ‘The Worlds Most Dangerous Places’)

LifeSystems™

Redcoat Shippers

Addict.co Clothing

Sandele eco Retreat

Mandina River Lodges

Gambia Tourism Authority

Gambia TV & Radio