Behind the scenes : Jason Florio’s portrait of the chiefs son – ‘Ebrima in Fur’ – The Gambia, West Africa


Dawn in the village of Diagabu Tenda, The Gambia, West Africa © Jason Florio

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Youtube: Jason Florio photograph’s Ebrima in his ‘fur’ coat, The Gambia, West Africa – filmed by Helen Jones-Florio. Click here or on above image to view footage


The end result – Ebrima comes to bid us farewell at our campsite on the banks of the River Gambia © Jason Florio

The journey continues… ‘River Gambia Expedition – 1044km source-sea African odyssey

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Youtube: ‘RIVER GAMBIA EXPEDITION – 1044km source-sea African odyssey’ Footage © Jason Florio & Helen Jones-Florio. Click here or on above image to view footage


Female rice harvesters, Kaur, The Gambia – ‘River Gambia’ mages by Jason Florio

Members of the Santa Yalla kaffo (group) take a moment between harvesting rice from fields irrigated by the River Gambia. They are paid thirty Gambian Dalasis a day (80 US cents). Taken whilst on the ‘River Gambia Expedition – 1044km source-sea Africa odyssey

Footage from the journey © Jason Florio & Helen Jones-Florio : Youtube

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Click here or on the image to go to Youtube

‘River Gambia’ – images by Jason Florio from a 1044km source-sea African odyssey

‘River Gambia Expedition – 1044km source-sea African odyssey‘. Take a journey with Jason Florio and Helen Jones-Florio - over landing from the source of the River Gambia in the Fouta Djallon Highlands of Guinea, canoeing through the gold-bearing lands of South East Senegal, and on into The Republic of The Gambia, where one of Africa’s last major free-flowing rivers meets the Atlantic Ocean.

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© Helen Jones-Florio

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Youtube: Too close encounter with a hippo © Jason Florio & Helen Jones-Florio

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© Jason Florio

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© Jason Florio

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Youtube: A ten-minute journey along the River Gambia © Jason Florio and Helen Jones-Florio

More about our journey in the forth coming book…more about that soon…

The Florios

Read about our 2009 expedition : ‘A Short Walk in the Gambian Bush-a 930km source-sea African odyssey’



A sad au revoir to our Malian fisherman/guide/hippo expert – how the hell will we deal with the hippo’s without him?!

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Leaving Yousef at Mako, Senegal © Jason Florio

Coming up shortly: December 22nd, 2012 – Mako, Senegal, West Africa

With sadness, and more than a little trepidation, we bid farewell – ‘fonyato’ – to Yousef, our Malian fisherman/guide/hippo expert, who has been with us for the last week on the River Gambia Expedition  – giving the team a crash-course on how to deal with hippo’s, here on the River Gambia. That is, Yousef’s rather quirky way of dealing with the mammoth mammals.

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Angry hippos and crazy Malian fishermen! River Gambia, Senegal, West Africa. Click on the image or here to view the footage

What will we do without him? More to come on that very soon…

Jason Florio – Fine Art Photography Prints: The River Gambia


© Jason Florio

Jason Florio’s on-line fine art photography gallery has just been updated – now featuring a series of his sublime images from the River Gambia Expedition. For sales, price list and any information on the B&W and the Color Galleries, please visit the website:

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© Jason Florio

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© Jason Florio


© Jason Florio


© Jason Florio

Jason Florio at work

The Boy in The Fur Coat - The Gambia, West Africa:

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Please click on the image to view footage


Hippo alert – 11 o’clock! Fog horn at the ready, Jones! River Gambia, Senegal, West Africa

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YOUTUBE: Fog horn at the ready, Jones! Hippo alert – River Gambia, Senegal, West Africa. Footage by Jason Florio

Tuesday 18th December 2012 – Djinji-Bantaco – paddling distance: 29km

We set off from the village of Djinji around 10am this morning, paddling towards the next gold mining village of Bantaco – which we had heard was one of the biggest mining area, along the River Gambia. During the six hours we spent on the river, as you will see from the above footage, we had another hippo encounter. Looking back on the footage, so far, you can tell how jittery we all were – hey, it’s a nerve-racking business, finding yourself constantly under threat of colliding with and/or getting too far into a hippo’s territory. So, please excuse the expletives.

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YOUTUBE: Helen: “Non of that sneaking between our canoe and the riverbank, guys – when you see a hippo!” footage © Jason Florio & Helen Jones-Florio – River Gambia, Senegal

And, unbeknownst to us – when we were out of radio contact, for over a month, whilst on the River Gambia Expedition – others were equally as ‘worried’ about us. Which begs the question: Enemies? Who needs them, when one has friends, family, and DPx Gear sponsors, like these guys? Their concern was underwhelming:

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Robert Young Pelton, DPx Gear

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‘Don’t let this tranquil setting fool you – hippos love a beach!’ © Jason Florio, River Gambia, Senegal, West Africa

Let’s just say, that we were all happy to get into the salt – i.e. hippo-free – water. But, that wouldn’t come for quite sometime yet. In the meantime, please continue to follow our River Gambia adventures.

The Florios (H & Flo)

Next up: more from the gold mines of Bantaco and Tombronkoto, Senegal

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‘Washing the gold’ – gold miner, Bantaco, River Gambia, Senegal © Jason Florio

Camping on the roof of the village chief’s compound, Sila Kounda, Senegal, West Africa

Sunday December 16th – Sila Kounda, Senegal – 21.45km

I’m going to skip back a day or two, from our first major hippo encounter, to when we arrived at the village of Sila Kounda, paddling the canoes from our initial jump off point for the river section, in Kedougou – on our River Gambia Expedition - with a little stopping and getting out along the way.

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Young boys pose for a portrait on the banks of River Gambia in Senegal. They said they had painted their faces like skulls for their own amusement © Jason Florio

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Florio with his new friends, on the banks of the River Gambia, Senegal © Helen Jones-Florio (screen grab from film footage)

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“Pass me the tapalapa, Ebou” our paddles doubled nicely as bread boards, River Gambia, Senegal © Helen Jones-Florio

Sila Kounda village, as with most villages we would paddle to on the journey, was situated about 1km from the riverbank. At first, we talked about camping on the bank and then walking up to the village to get supplies. However, a group of small boys playing by the river, said that they would go and fetch a donkey and cart so that we could haul our gear, including the canoes to the village.

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First up, the baggage – Sila Kounda, Senegal © Helen Jones-Florio

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Next up, the Ally canoes, Sila Kounda, Senegal © Helen Jones-Florio

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The donkeys must had a day off! Yousef and Ebou take the strain – Sila Kounda, Senegal © Jason Florio

When we got up to the village, and introded ourselves to the chief, it was a choice between pitching our tents on the outskirts of the compound, on the village rubbish dump, or on the roof of the chief’s very large house. Where the hell do we put the tent pegs in a concrete floor? However, as you can see, we managed, with the help of a couple of Peli cases to weight down the tent.

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H: “Flo, do you think Apple might sponsor are next expedition?” Sila Kounda, Senegal © Jason Florio

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Drying cous cous, sweetcorn, rice, and groundnuts on the roof – Sila Kounda, Senegal © Jason Florio

Our view from the roof was the halal slaughtering of a huge cow. Apparently, someone from the village had just returned from The Hajj and a big celebration was underway. We watched as the cow’s throat was cut and its blood let to bleed into the ground around it. It fought hard, that cow. It took over 30 minutes to die – the whole time, moaning loudly, kicking out, and writhing around on the ground. It’s expansive chest heaving up and down. When it stilled, the man who’d cut its throat, approached the animal cautiously and yanked it’s tail – hard – I thought at first he was trying to pull it off! However, he was checking to see if it was dead. The big animal bucked out its hind legs, one more time, as the man almost fell over backwards, scrambling to get out of its way. Then, the cow went still – and stayed that way.

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Preparing the cow – and the ground – Sila Kounda © Jason Florio

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Halal’d – Sila Kounda, Senegal © Helen Jones-Florio

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Every single bit of the cow will be used – Sila Kounda, Senegal © Helen Jones-Florio

I knew then what would be in the family bowl that night for dinner…

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The food shot© Jason Florio

After we’d made camp, we went back to see the old chief. Ninety nine years old with an active mind – and a roguish twinkle in his eyes – of that of a much younger man. He had been village chief for over 30 years – as had his grandfather before him – and, as cow-hide trader, he had travelled all over West Africa. Florio presented him with a handful of kola nuts – the traditional greeting to chiefs in West Africa: ‘Silafando’ – a gift to you on behalf of my journey – which we had used on our Short Walk in the Gambian Bush’, in 2009.

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Florio gives ‘Sialfando’ to the chief – Sila Kounda, Senegal © Helen Jones-Florio (screen grab from film footage)

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Chef de village, Sila Kounda, Senegal © Jason Florio

We decided to spend a couple of days in the village because there was a gold mine, ’about 1km’ walk away, that we wanted to go and see. We set off, with the chief’s 12-year old grandson, Ibrahima, leading the way. Four kilometers and a tiny, barely-floating, dug-out canoe ride across the River Gambia later, we reached the mine…

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Ibrahima leads the way © Helen Jones-Florio

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H gets into the dug out with Yousef, River Gambia, Senegal – click here or on image to view footage

Next up: hanging out with the gold miners of Senegal.

See you soon!

The Florios

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A gold mine worker relaxes after a shift at an artisanal mine in Senegal on the banks of the River Gambia.© Jason Florio

Bunja Conteh – Kora player – The Gambia, West Africa

The deft-fingered, Bunja Conteh, and his Kora – melodic and hauntingly beautiful.

“I can sing from mornin’ to dawnin’ ” – Bunja Conteh

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Tap here or on the above image to watch Bunja play on Youtube – footage by Jason Florio

Bunja also happens to come from a lineage of griots (the traditional oral storytellers, poets, and musicians of West Africa). We’ll be posting more about him very soon.

More updates about the River Gambia Expedition incoming so please continue to stop by

The Florios (Helen & Jason)

for all future updates, please visit


Youtube and Vimeo – River Gambia Expedition, West Africa and more



We’ve put all of our Vimeo and Youtube footage on one page. All things photography, West Africa, photojournalism, travel, expeditions, canoeing, and more!



A quick shout out, from The Gambia, West Africa, to our River Gambia Expedition product sponsors.

There is ‘Lemon Tea’ in that there Nuun hydration bottle! The Gambia, West Africa. Image © Helen Jones-Florio

SteriPen Adventurer Opti – with solar charging case. Image © Helen Jones-Florio

Love Yourself Project, SteriPEN, Nuun hydration and a Florio (as in Jason), in the Sandele house, Kartong, The Gambia, West Africa. Image © Helen Jones-Florio

It’s with great thanks to all of our product sponsors, from the River Gambia Expedition team. We’ll posting photo’s of all the products in use, but by bit, throughout the journey, whilst here in West Africa – whether we are trekking in the Fouta Djallon Highlands of Guinea, paddling in the canooes through the hippos in Niokolo Koba National Park, Senegal, and back into The Gambia, towards the River Gambias end at the Atlantic Ocean.

Thanks to ALL of our product sponsors

Updates and more coming shortly.

As always, thanks for stopping by.

The Florios

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