Coming next: The River Gambia Expedition team moto-taxi up and down the Fouta Djallon Highlands, Guinea-Conakry


River Gambia Expedition team-moto-taxis from Hore Dimma, Fouta Djallon – Kedougou, Senegal © Jason Florio

Update – Thursday 6th December 2012:

Mali Ville – ‘we’re on top of the world, ma!’ –Fouta Djallon Highlands, Guinea Conakry, West Africa

We arrived in Mali Ville covered in a thick layer of red dust, from the road – it was in our hair, up our noses, in our ears and all over our clothes. As seems to be par for the course, the car windows would not close, without the use of an itinerant ‘manivelle’ – the window winder. Before we set out from Horé Dimma, the driver had made a cursory attempt to find it – scrambling around on the already cluttered floor of his vehicle – before eventually shrugging and giving up on finding it.

First impressions of Mali Ville: ‘What a dump!’

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Gare routiere, Mali Ville, Fouta Djallon Highlands – view from the coffee shop © Helen Jones-Florio

Full update coming soon!

The Florios (H & Flo)

River Gambia Expedition team leaders

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Yellowbrick YBlog - River Gambia Expedition route: Lbe-Hore Dimma-Mali Ville-Kedougou

MISSION ACCOMPLISHED! The River Gambia Expedition team reach the Atlantic Ocean, Banjul, The Gambia after over 1100km road and river!

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The River Gambia Expedition team reach the Atlantic Ocean, at Denton Bridge, The Gambia – after over 1000km of road and river l-r: Helen Jones-Florio, Ebou Jarju, Abdou Ndong, Jason Florio. Thanks to Terry, of Denton Bridge Watersports, for his hospitality on our return (and the chicken and chips!)

Tuesday 22nd January 2013

After two months on the road and camping on the banks of the River Gambia, we bloody well did it!! The River Gambia Expedition team reached the Atlantic Ocean, in The Gambia, yesterday, 21st January – over 1100km later: 700km canoeing the River Gambia and 400km over-landing through the Fouta Djallon Highlands, in Guinea-Conakry – to pay homage to the source of the River Gambia, in the village of Horé Dimma.

No support boat or vehicle. No motor. Just the four of us (at one time, five) and pure and simple paddle power!!

Yellowbrick route map 2013

The River Gambia Expedition route map

Last night it felt as if we had suddenly shifted into another reality. Our great friends Geri and Maurice, who run a beautiful eco lodge – Sandele – in Kartong, came to meet us in Banjul, to help us haul the Ally 811 canoes (A.K.A. ‘The Twins and more recently A.K.A. ‘The Ally Cat’)and all our gear back to their place by the beach, for some much needed r ‘n’ r. To mark the auspicious occasion – a double celebration, as it was also Florio’s birthday – G and M cracked open a bottle of champagne and a presented Mr F with a freshly baked carrot cake. We were in an odd sort of heaven…we even had our own plates! After having spent the last couple of months eating from a ‘family bowl’ – a very common West African way of eating is by sharing a big bowl of food.

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Family bowl – West Africa style, Hore Dimma, Guinea-Conakry

BUT! We need to rewind – quite a bit, actually – and go back to where we left of on the last post – and fill in the blanks of the journey. Because we have had so little chance to on line for the last month or so we have a backlog of photos, road and river stories to share with you. However…please bear with us (again!) as we readjust to being back and catch up on the practicalities of ‘normal’ life. We have return flights to the UK to book (big thanks to The Gambia Experience) to see family and flights back to NYC and home – at long last. We’ve been gone a while. We also have to go to Banjul port tomorrow and claim our itinerant box, filled with materials we needed for the River Gambia Expedition, which arrived about a week ago – nearly 3 months late – which has seemingly done the rounds, in the Atlantic Ocean, of various ports in West Africa!

Stay with us…we will be back shortly – we promise!

The Florios – H & Flo

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check our route on the YellowBrick Tracking page


Yellowbrick Tracking and The Ally 811 canoes – on the River Gambia tomorrow, from Kedougou, Senegal, West Africa

YellowBrick Tracking Devices © Jason Florio - on the road to Mali Ville, Fouta Djallon, Guinea

YellowBrick Tracking Devices © Jason Florio – on the road to Mali Ville, Fouta Djallon, Guinea

We’ll be on the River Gambia as from tomorrow morning, in ‘The Twins’ – our 16.5′ Ally 811 – canoes. We’re setting off from Kedougou, Senegal, towards Mako. On route, we’ll be staying in about seven villages, as part of the River Gambia Expedition. We hope to be in Wassadou for Christmas. Afterwards, we’ll wend our way towards The Gambia.

This may be the last post for a week or so. However, you can check our route on our Yellowbrick blog – which will ping our location every 2 hours or so. BIG thanks to Nick and the YellowBrick team for their support

Please keep checking in and, if we don’t get on before: HAPPY HOLIDAYS!!!

Yellowbrick Tracking - YB3 - Devices. Click on image to visit map

Yellowbrick Tracking – YB3 – Devices. Click on image to visit map

The Florios (H & Flo), Abdou and Ebou – the River Gambia Expedition team

Quick update from Kedougou, Senegal – off to Guinea and the Fouta Djallon tomorrow

Florio – ‘mapping the River Gambia Expedition route’ – with team mates, Ibu and Abdou and the Kelly Kettle = PG Tips!! Kedougou, Senegal, W Africa © Helen Jones-Florio

Monday 26th November – Kedougou, Senegal, West Africa

Apologies for yet another quick update but we are having power problems – “its all about the power” as Florio keeps reminding us: camera batteries, laptops, cell phones…Anyhoo, we are in Kedougou, ready to set off for the Fouta Djallon Highlands of Guinea, in the morning. We’ll head for Labé, the capital of the Fouta, and then on to exactly why we are starting the River Gambia Expedition in Guinea: the source of the River Gambia where our expedition truly begins. Although, it’s been quite an adventure so far, in one way or another. We’ll fill you in on more of that when we can charge our laptops fully.

Plans are changing too – daily, it seems. One of our major plan changes is that our ‘trusty’ Senegalese guide has not obtained the permit we need to pass through Niokolo Koba National Park with our canoes – despite assuring us that he had, some weeks ago now. So, we have to make some hasty phone calls to the Director of National Parks of Senegal, in Dakar, and the Director of Niokolo Koba National Park, in Tambacunda to see if we can persuade them to let us paddle through the park. All whilst trekking for 200kms in the Fouta Djallon Highlands!

The River Gambia, Kedougou, Senegal, W Africa © Helen Jones-Florio

Florio has been taking photos here there and everywhere and, again, once we can get fully powered up, we’ll be posting some on the blog.

We’ll keep you posted on our Niokolo Koba National Park situation as and when…keep your fingers crossed for that permit for us please.

Juice is running low! More soon

The Florios (H & Flo)

P.S. remember, you that you can follow our trail on our YellowBrick blog – see where we are at, at all times, should you so desire.

click to go to YB site




L-R: Ablie Janneh, Jason Florio, Chief Dadi Bah, Helen Jones-Florio – The Gambia, West Africa, 2009. Taken whilst on ‘A Short Walk in the Gambian Bush-a 930km African odyssey’ expedition

‘River Gambia Expedition – 1000km source-sea African odyssey’

The Journey – 1 river. 2 borders. 3 countries

Guinea – Senegal – The Republic of The Gambia

West Africa

When: Paddles in the water mid-November 2012– Late-January 2013

Why: To create an historical – visual /audio/written – document of the peoples, cultures and environment along one of Africa’s last, free flowing, major rivers – The River Gambia.

Estimated journey time: 2-3 months

Modes of transport: Canoes & Trekking & ‘Moto – Taxis’!

Expedition Leaders: Jason Florio & Helen Jones-Florio

Mission Statement

Experienced West Africa travelers, husband and wife team - multi award-winning photographer and writer Jason Florio, and, photography and expedition producer and writer, Helen Jones-Florio – will attempt to create a modern-day account of the people, societies, and life along the length of one of Africa’s last, free-flowing, major rivers – the River Gambia. There has been talk of damming the river. This journey will also be about the impact to the communities, who daily lives rely on the river to survive, and the environmental impact of damming the river.

To read more, please visit:  Why Exactly Are We Doing This Expedition…

The River Gambia Expedition Route Map

The River Gambia – source to sea – map

And, to find out about our 2009 expedition - ‘A Short Walk in the Gambian Bush – 930km African odyssey’

Welcome on board! We look forward to having you all on the journey with us.

Thanks for your support,

Jason & Helen – ‘The Florios



We did it! We completed the River Gambia Expedition23rd November 2012 – 21st January 2013 - after almost 400km overland in the Fouta Djallon Highlands of Guinea-Conakry into Senegal and then putting our two canoes into the water in Kedougou – we paddled (no engine!) over 700km of the River Gambia to its end, at the Atlantic Ocean in Banjul, The Gambia.

During our travels, we bounced and rattled down the mountains of the Fouta Djallon on the back of motorcycle taxis; hung out with gold miners in Senegal; drank attayah tea with village chiefs and elders; dodged very angry hippos on the River Gambia; and, as we paddled on the increasingly widening ocean-like river, we battled the wind and waves, as we neared the Atlantic and the end of our journey.

All in all, it was a phenomenal journey! Please scroll through the following pages to read and see more about the whole journey

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We did it!! Denton Bridge, Banjul, The Gambia – standing in the Atlantic Ocean! The River Gambia Expedition team. L-R: Helen Jones-Florio, Ebou Jarju, Abdou Ndong, Jason Florio

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River Gambia Expedition route map – YellowBrick Tracking Device (YB3) – click here to view our route through Guinea Conakry – Senegal – The Gambia, West Africa – over 1000km

Press – please visit our ‘meet the press’ page

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Press: VQR – Spring 2013: ‘River Gambia Expedition’ – images by Jason Florio

2014: The Florios latest project in The Gambia, West Africa -  ‘Photos Tell Stories: teaching photography – a visual language’