The ever curious kids of the Fouta Djallon Highlands – ‘Look, look! I am in the camera!’


Helen – with her ever-present entourage © Jason Florio


Helen – she is in there somewhere! © Jason Florio

Flo-kids-school-hore dimma_DSF1177 copy

‘Can I see? Can I see?’ ! Florio has a instant audience © Helen Jones-Florio

Random photos of the day: November 2013 – ‘Look, look! I am in the camera!’ Habi squealed, as she looked at the screen on the camera. entertaining the kids in the Fouta Djallon Highlands, Guinea-Conakry, whilst on the ‘River Gambia Expedition-1000km source-sea African odyssey’

For an update about our River Gambia journey (as of today-6/11/2013) please check out our recent blog post here

Photography – Jason Florio: Village Imam, Hore Dimma, Fouta Djallon Highlands, Guinea-Conakry

_MG_1080 hore dimma imam

© Jason Florio

Random photo of the day: The imam of Horé Dimma village, Fouta Djallon Highlands of Guinea-Conakry © Jason Florio

Excerpt from an earlier post: ‘The next day, we were woken at 5.00am, by the ‘call to prayer’ as the muezzin’s voice echoed loudly over the crackling PA system. The ensuing prayers went on, loudly, for a very long time. One night, during our stay in the village, the muezzin started at 2am?! Was there was some kind of emergency in the village? Did we need to get up and rush to the mosque or something? During our travels in Muslim countries, neither of us had ever heard the call to prayer at 2am. The next day, when we asked what it was all about, Saif (our Guinea guide from Galissa Voyage Trekking) said, in his strong French accent, “they (the muezzin) did not check their watch”. Ebou added “they were fooled by the full moon” ?!River Gambia Expedition – 1000km source-sea African odyssey

To see Jason Florio’s new series of images, taken whilst on the journey, please visit his website:  ‘River Gambia’

Photographer, Jason Florio: Imam’s wife and granddaughter – Hore Dimma, Fouta Djallon Highlands, Guinea-Conakry


The Imam’s wife and granddaughter – Hore Dimma village, Fouta Djallon Highlands of Guinea © Jason Florio

Random photo of the day: early on in our journey, the River Gambia Expedition , we had traveled on local transport for 23 bone-juddering hours from Kedougou, Senegal, over the rockiest of roads to the village of Horé Dimma, to pay homage to the source of the River Gambia – the true beginning of a journey which would take us, by road and river, over 1100km’s through the Fouta Djallon Highlands, into Senegal, and then on to The Republic of The Gambia, to the Atlantic Ocean.

Florio had just finished photographing one of the village imam’s – Horé Dimma is a sprawling place with more than one mosque – when we noticed his wife sitting nearby, quietly watching us, in her pristine wrap. And, there, next to her, is who we believe to be her granddaughter who, in complete contrast, looked as if she had quite likely been running around with her friends in the surrounding dusty hills of the Fouta Djallon.

More river stories and images to come very shortly

The Florio’s – H & Flo

If you would like to view more from Jason Florio’s latest body of work, ‘River Gambia’, please visit his website


‘Boy in Fur Coat’ The Gambia, West Africa © Jason Florio

Today’s shout out goes to ©Kelly Kettle – thanks for your support on the River Gambia Expedition!

H, kids Kelly Kettle_MG_3252

Helen – ‘we LOVE our Kelly Kettle!’ – Senegal, West Africa © Jason Florio


‘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.

Today’s shout out goes to Kelly Kettle – this little beauty was a life saver…we Brits love our tea! Also, because you can burn any old bits of dry twigs and grass to boil the water it meant that this time, we didn’t have to use kembo (charcoal – from trees which more all too often purposely chopped down for burning) – used all the time in West Africa to make fires.

In the future, our expedition gear check list will not be complete without a Kelly Kettle!

Check these guys out – Kelly Kettle

Kelly Kettle

‘Kelly Kettle® essential Camping equipment for the Outdoors. [for Scouts, Fishing, Picnics, Disaster Kits, etc. Order yours now!] Kelly Kettle … and West Africa adventures too! Thanks Patrick and Seamus Kelly for all your support for the River Gambia Expedition - we’re not quite sure what we would have done without our tea!

More ‘shout outs’ to come, for everyone else who backed us with product. Such as…

Mega thanks!

The Florios

denton bridge-finish_MG_8986 copy



YouTube: Jason and Helen Florio talk about their imminent departure (3 days to go!) to Guinea and the source of the River Gambia, West Africa

Please click on image to view footage

The YouTube footage pretty much speaks for itself…which is a good thing as we are just running out of the door, this morning, to catch up with Concern Universal - Florio is taking some pics of one of their projects here in The Gambia, in exchange for a lift with all our expedition gear to Tambacunda, Senegal, in three days time. From there, we will then head down to Kédougou, Guinea, to drop off ‘The Twins‘ (our Ally 811 canoes), then onto Labé. Near to where our journey truly begins – the River Gambia Expedition – 40km or so from Labé, lies the tiny village of Toulou, where we will begin to trek for the first 200km, in the Fouta Djallon Highlands of Guinea and the source of the River Gambia.

River Gambia Expedition – route map

After over three weeks delay and more than a few false start dates (thanks to the shipping company who are transporting our box of expedition gear!), we are all set to go – at long last – and we are both so very ready to get this expedition well and truly started. As are our Gambian team mates, Abdou and Ebu, who have been more than patiently waiting (as only Gambians can) for us to give them a leaving date.

Thanks, as always, for stopping by. And, thank you, for the words of encouragement over these last frustrating weeks of waiting on tenterhooks for our box of expedition gear (which was never meant) to arrive in The Gambia – we are not defeated!

We’ll be right back with updates and photos (from Mr Florio) very soon.

H & Flo

PRESS: ‘Wings’ Arik Airlines inflight magazine – ‘Inside Treck’ the best pain au chocolate in NYC & West Africa expeditions!

01 Sep 2012

New York’s best pain au chocolat, a Gambian river adventure and Mali jazz – travel industry insiders reveal their favourite things on the planet

Words Hannah Thompson

Ever wonder how some people seem to travel without a fuss, know exactly where’s hot before the rest of the world’s heard of it and collect the kind of rarefied memories the rest of us only dream of? Wings has found the intrepid blogger, hotelier, photographer and tour operator who have made travel their trade and the little-known corners of the globe their office – We’ve asked them for their expert advice on how and where to travel.

Interview with River Gambia Expedition co-leader and photographer, Jason Florio:

Q: Where will the next stamp in your passport be from?

JF: ‘The Gambia. My wife and I are going to make a 1,130km photography expedition following the course of the River Gambia from its source in the Fouta Djallon highlands of Guinea, through the Niokolo Koba National Park in Senegal and back through The Gambia to the Atlantic.’

To read the full interview, please click here

Building the 811 Ally 16.5′ canoe for the first time with our Gambian team – Kartong, The Gambia, West Africa

And so it begins – H, Ebu & Abdou get ready to unpack and rebuild. Image © Jason Florio

We got the whole River Gambia Expedition team together the other day, here in at Sandele Eco Retreat, near the village of Kartong – which is right on the beach and the Atlantic Ocean. – where we are staying as guests of old friends, Geri and Maurice. We wanted to show our Gambian team mates, Abdou and Ebu, how to build one of the 811 Ally canoes.

Everything in it’s place and a place for everything, Sandele, The Gambia West Africa. Image © Jason Florio

With only a little instruction from Florio and myself, the guys got the hang of building the Ally canoe straightaway.

Flo and the boys putting the Ally together – Sandele, The Gambia, West Africa. Image © Helen Jones-florio

The Ally canoe is taking shape! Image © Jason Florio

Almost there! Image © Helen Jones-Florio

Success! The 811 Ally canoe is ready to roll! © Helen Jones-Florio

The Ally canoe on it’s way to it’s maiden voyage in West Africa. Still image © Jason Florio

Abdou and Ebu take the Ally canoe into the Atlantic Ocean (please don’t try this at home!) whilst Flo films. Image © Helen Jones-Florio

Despite the fact that our Gambian team mates were slightly bemused with the finished product (very different from their usual, heavy, wooden dug out canoe – ‘pirogue’), they took to the water as if the 811 Ally had been made for them. Florio went in after this with Ebu, whilst I filmed (coming soon!) – they made the ‘Hawaii 5 0′ boys look tame!! Not that we are advocating using the Ally canoes in the ocean but the guys did insist!

We’re looking forward to getting onto the River Gambia soon, with both of the Allys – ‘The Twins’ as we’re calling them for now. Although, Abdou insists that we have a naming ceremony for them and he thinks ‘Awa’ (after his wife) for one and ‘Helen (after guess who!) for the second canoe would be ‘very fine‘. Hmmm…we think a Mandinka name might be more fitting. We’ll see.

We hope to leave for Guinea on the 1st November – if not before. We’ll keep you updated.

Thanks as always for stopping by.

The Florios

‘An Exchange’ – Extended due to demand: Jason Florio’s limited edition fine art photography prints

More images from award-winning photographer Jason Florio – please click here: Black & White Collection

More images available, please click here: Colour Collection

Update: October 22nd, 2012 – The Gambia, West Africa

Since we made our target on Kickstarter (thanks to all for their pledges!) a week or so ago, we’ve had numerous emails from people asking if it was too late for them to donate to the River Gambia Expedition, in exchange for Jason Florio’s fine art prints – either from his on-line gallery collections (shown above) or from an exclusive new series of images, from photographs he will take whilst we are on the journey, here in West Africa. Please see ‘Herouna and his white horse’ & ‘Kuntaur Wharf’ (below) – just two examples of the series of Florio’s fine art prints available in ‘an exchange’ from our last expedition in 2009 ‘A Short Walk in the Gambian Bush

So, we have decided to extend ‘an exchange’ (thanks to all who are on board so far!), which pre-dated our Kickstarter campaign, but it basically works on the same principle: Jason Florio’s fine art prints in exchange for donations – and for a greatly reduced price then the prints would usually cost in the gallery.

‘An exchange’ special offer ends Feb 1st 2013

‘Herouna and his horse’ The Gambia, West Africa
From the award-winning series of portraits ‘Silafando’- Gambia Expedition 2009. Image © Jason Florio

Here is how it works:

Please note: only donations over $100/£65 will be eligible for the prints

The more you donate, the bigger the print size will be – please see the following chart for donation amounts ans sizes:

Jason Florio’s limited edition, signed, River Gambia Expedition 2012 & on-line gallery B&W or Colour collection Prints – in exchange for donations of $100 / £65 +:

Donation Amounts: Print Sizes

$100 USD/ £65 GBP & over – you will get a 8″ x 10″ (gallery price – retails @ $175 / £115)

$250 USD / £160 GBP & over - you will get a 11″ x 14″

(gallery price – retails @ $500 / £325)

$600 USD / £400 GBP & over you will get a 16″ x 20″

(gallery price – retails @ $1,200/ £750)

$900 USD / £600 GBP & over you will get 24″ x 36″

(gallery price – retails @ $1,500 / £970)

$1,500 USD / £970 GBP & over you will get 30″ x 40″

(gallery – normal retail @ $2,500 / £1,700)

‘Kuntaur Wharf’ – The Gambia, West Africa. Image © Jason Florio

You don’t have $100/£65 + to spare? That’s all good too…because every penny and cent will get you some kind of reward. OK, it won’t get you one of Jason’s prints 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 on all our other social media sites (such as Twitter & FB). PLUS: 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 here 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, then that’s cool too – just let us know when you donate).

Something that looks like this: this could be your name/company name on this banner

To make your donations for ‘an exchange’ please go to PayPal (or, if you already have a PayPal account, you can simply click on the PayPal icon right here, to go directly to their website):

1. Sign into your account Or sign up – 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 – :

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. If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact

Feel free to sign up for the blog if you would like to receive updates on the expedition (see right hand column ‘Follow us…please’)

Welcome on board and we look forward to bringing you more expedition news again soon!

The Florio’s (Helen & Flo)

Expedition Co-Leaders

If you want a quick ‘whats-it-all-about’ – watch expedition photographer and co-leader: Jason Florio, on Vimeo:

And the rains came down – and the power followed – Gunjor fishing village, The Gambia, West Africa

Flo & Dr S (and our trusty guide ‘toubab minty’ the bush dog) – Gunjor fishing village, The Gambia, West Africa Image © Helen Jones-Florio

Yesterday, we watched a gloriously magnificent electric storm – lighting up the Atlantic Ocean – from our vantage point (undercover. Well, almost…aside from the leaky roof of the beach bar we were sitting in) in Gunjor, a fishing village just down the beach from where we are staying in Kartong.

The storm proceeded to follow us all the way back to Kartong and didn’t let up for most of the evening.

View from the back of the taxi as the storm followed us home to Kartong, The Gambia, West Africa. Image © Helen Jones-Florio

Keeping it short today as we the power is hit and miss – also, we have to get into Serrekunda to pick up medical supplies etc., before it starts raining again – the sky is looking moody again this morning.

More updates soon + photos from Florio, the photographer, himself coming soon. We promise! He has been entrenched in power cables, gadgets and solar panels since we arrived in The Gambia – “it’s all about the power” he said – as we figure out how we will charge everything when we are on the River Gambia Expedition. Some of the solar devices we brought with don’t seem to do what they say on the box…hmmmm….more on that as and when.

Please keep stopping by and feel free to leave comments. We’d like that :)

The Florios

The River Gambia Expedition team – together. At last! The Gambia, West Africa

Thursday 19th October 2012

This is how are day started: auto breakdown#1

Path for the course for the rest of the day! Sandele Eco Retreat, Kartong, The Gambia, West Africa. Image © Jason Florio

Once we got the motor started (putting fuel in helped somewhat), we made our way to the Senegambia area for a meeting at the American Embassy. A successful meeting at that, as they asked us if we would consider exhibiting the work from this forthcoming expedition, River Gambia Expedition, and from our 2009 walk around the Gambia – ‘A Short Walk in the Gambian Bush’ = when we finish the journey. We’re really hoping we can work that out as it would be achieving something that we’ve dreamed about doing since the 2009 expedition. Fingers crossed!

And this is how the day went on, after we left the American Embassy (in the background): auto breakdown#2

Florio gets ready to push! Kairaba Ave, The Gambia, West Africa. Image © Helen Jones-Florio

The image speaks for itself! Kairaba Ave, The Gambia, West Africa. Image © Helen Jones-Florio

Once we got the motor started, again, we set off to meet with Abdou and Ebou - our Gambian team mates, in Kembujeh, a small village not too far from Brikama. We haven’t seen them in almost three years so, as you can imagine, it was an emotional greeting – from both sides – plus, Abdou and Florio (or ‘JC’, as they fondly call him all over the place here) have known each other for 15 plus years.

However, on route, we came across Africell (one of the local mobile/cell phone networks), on Kairaba Ave, who were holding special ‘Tobaski’ (the big annual Muslim festival – where 1000′s of goats and sheep are ritually slaughtered) competition – text to a certain number and your name could be picked out to get your free goat or sheep! When we went past earlier in the day this pen was crammed full of the fattened, four-legged – bleating-like ‘we-know-what’s-coming’ – mammals. Obviously, there had been a lot of winners.

‘Get your Tobaski goat here – be quick, mind you!’ Kairaba Ave, The Gambia, West Africa. Image © Helen Jones-Florio

There was one stop we just had to make, on route to Kembujeh to meet with our Gambia team mates, in the town of Brikama – to (completely) surprise an old friend.

Florio & Dr Sanyang, Brikama, The Gambia, West Africa. Image © Helen Jones-Florio

Dr Sanyang is a blog post (or several!) all on his own…so, we’ll leave that story for another time.

The River Gambia Team – 2012!!

The River Gambia Expedition Team – together, at last! L-R: Florio, Abdou, Helen & Ebou, Kembueh, The Gambia, West Africa

And, the surprise was all ours as Abdou’s lovely daughter, Ole – who we hung out with last time we were here (when she was about 14 years old) – appeared with her new baby. Ole seems such a young thing herself. Nevertheless, motherhood suits her so well.

Ole with babe (with proud Grandfather, Abdou, in the background), Kembujeh, The Gambia, West Africa. Image © Helen Jones-Florio

The day ended, just as it had started – auto breakdown#3

Abdou’s kids (and assorted other kids) help get the motor running! Kembujeh, The Gambia, West Africa. Image © Helen Jones-Florio

Despite all that, the kids are still smiling – as they always see to do here.

Kembujeh, The Gambia, West Africa.Image © Helen Jones-Florio

A full on day, in 90+ degree heat. But, it’s great to be back in The Gambia. It’s a place that we both love and, equally and individually, have a long history here. Plans are fully underway for leaving for Guinea – the start of our expedition proper.

We’ll be updating you with more news and photos very soon. So, we do hope you’ll stop by again and that you’ll enjoy the journey with us.

Fonyata domanding (see you later!).

The Florios

P.S. a thank you from us both (and the Sandele Eco Retreat cat!)

A message from Helen & Florio (and introducing the Sandele cat) – Sandele Eco Retreat, The Gambia, West Africa – Oct 17th 2012