Outside Magazine: ‘What will be the toughest part (of the River Gambia Expedition)?’ A clue: ‘one of the most dangerous animals in Africa’!

‘Abdou with Rescued Croc’ Makasutu, The Gambia, West Africa © Jason Florio


Outside Magazine – Adventure Lab: What will be the toughest part?

Jason Florio: ‘There is a 200km (124 mile) section through the Niokolo Koba, a 9,130 square km (3,525 square mile) national park in Southern Senegal, that will be the most remote and the most hippo-infested part of our journey. (There are an estimated 6,000 hippos in this small section of the park.) Back in the 1970s, UNESCO removed all the villages from the park, with the aim to protect it. But the consensus is that this has led to its demise. With just a few park rangers to protect the animals, the place is now rife with poachers. So, we’ll have to take an armed guard with us on that part of the river. There is a slight irony to this as the park is known for its array of potentially dangerous wildlife—elephants, lions, leopards, baboons, hippos, and crocodiles—yet we need a man with an AK-47 to protect us against humans.’ To read the full interview, please click here


Lake Baringo,Kenya, East Africa. Image © Jason Florio for AFAR Magazine

We’ve had information, tips, pointers, what-not-to-do’s coming in, over the last weeks, from various sources – people who have had direct experience with hippo’s:

Philip Harwood: ‘Canoeing the Congo’ left us a message the other day, via Explorers Connect with his experience on dealing with hippos: “Hippos … All the obvious stuff. The locals on the Congo always just stopped, and waited till the hippos moved. If they didn’t move, they slowly move around. Selecting campsites is always a big thing, the less cover the better, that way you wont surprise them. Rocky areas are also good to camp, hippos don’t do well on rocks. Stopping for a pee or poo I found dodgy, cos i often found myself surrounded by hippo prints as I squatted! Have a great trip, and if you dont get eaten by a hippo, let me know how you get on”

Thanks Philip – particularly on the loo issues!!


In a recent interview with Matt Smith for The Gambia Blog, the question that is always prevalent in our thoughts was asked:

The Gambia Blog: And lastly, what do you intend to do about all those hippos?!

Helen Jones-Florio: ‘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!”


Africa Geographic Safari Interactive Mag – some of the comments left on the blog post Safari Interactive Magazine put up for us:

Simon Espley “Don’t get between hippos and their perceived safety (deep water). Enjoy, very envious. Boated the Zambezi source to mouth years ago (albeit in ducks) – hippos provided the most ‘fun’.”

Jacqui:“Take my Pit Bull with you!!!! They don’t know she’s a big softy!!!!

Simon: “Don’t get between hippos and their perceived safety (deep water). Enjoy, very envious. Boated the Zambezi source to mouth years ago (albeit in ducks) – hippos provided the most ‘fun'”.


Anton Crone: “No advice except to say, take me with you and I’ll gladly scare off the ‘po’s. With admiration and envy.”

And we haven’t even started on the croc stories!! If anyone has any other ‘good advice’ out there, please feel free to leave your comments here at the bottom of the page.

Thanks for stopping by. More soon…

The Florios (Helen & Florio)

Jason Florio on Vimeo – talking all things expedition and fine art photography prints:


About River Gambia Expedition 2012

Jason Florio, FRGS: award-winning photojournalist. Helen Jones-Florio: expedition & photography producer. 2009: The couple co-led the West Africa expedition 'A Short Walk in the Gambian Bush - a 930km African odyssey' - the first circumnavigation of the small West African country, by foot, with two donkeys and a cart. Resulting in the award-winning series of portraits of Gambian village chiefs (Alkalo's) www.floriophoto.com (under 'Projects') http://930kmafricanodyssey.tumblr.com/ 2012-13: The couple co-led their second West Africa expedition - 'River Gambia Expedition - 1000km source-sea Africa odyssey' over-landing for 400km and canoeing the River Gambia for 720km https://rivergambiaexpedition2012.wordpress.com
This entry was posted in Adventure, Carbon footprint, Culture, Documentary, Environmental, Expedition, Fundraising, Guinea, Photography, photography, Photojournalism, Portraits, River Gambia, Senegal, Sponsorship, The Gambia, tradition, Travel, Vimeo, West Africa and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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