17 Mar Looking back – River Gambia expedition prints and images
Looking back – River Gambia: between November 2012 – January 2013 – we (myself, photographer and filmmaker, Jason Florio, and two Gambian friends, Abdou and Ebou) made the first fully-documented expedition of one of Africa’s last free-flowing major rivers, the River Gambia, West Africa – a 1044km source to sea African odyssey.
Leaving our two canoes in the border town of Kédougou, Senegal, traveling overland, we made a round-trip of 400km, to find the source of the River Gambia in the Fouta Djallon Highlands, Guinea. On our return to Kédougou, we set out, in two canoes, to paddle over 700km (no engine!) of the River Gambia, wending our way through Senegal, into The Gambia, and to our final destination – the mouth of the river where it flows into the Atlantic Ocean.
During our travels, we bounced and rattled down the mountains of the Fouta Djallon Highlands on the back of motorcycle taxis; hung out with gold miners in Senegal; drank attaya green 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 Ocean and our journey’s end.
To help us to make the journey in the first place, we did our own version of crowdfunding, offering fine art prints for donations of images that Jason would take whilst we were on the River Gambia. Therefore, on our return to New York, we set about the monumental task of processing the prints for our many donors. Our apartment bulged at the seams with the people who live and work along the River Gambia. Sublime visual reminders of the people we met along the way – and of new friends made, who we know we will go back to revisit one day. But, that will be another story… Helen Jones-Florio