Blimey…we woke up in West Africa!!

Departed 16/10/12: Gatwick Airport, UK – on a very cold October early morn

H & Florio – Departures, Gatwick Airport – Oct 16th 2012 (thanks to Dad/Rodger & mum/Wendy Florio for getting us there!)


Arrived 16/10/12: Yundum International Airport, The Gambia, West Africa – on a bi candita baci (very hot!) October mid-afternoon

Florio, Yundum Airport, The Gambia (is that the President’s plane in the background?).

We were dreading our arrival into The Gambia – only in the respect of going through customs with all our luggage + two canoes…we were a custom officers dream – and our nightmare. So, imagine our complete delight to see a pretty young Gambian woman, holding a card up with our names written on it, on the luggage pick-up side of the customs barrier! Fotou, from the Gambia Tourist Board had come, permission letter in hand, to guide us seamlessly through customs – bypassing masses of bemused (and some, I swear, looking downright hostile), hot and sweaty tourists waiting in line,  as we swanned through the barrier, on the coat tails of the GTB; with not even a peek in our ‘heavy weight’ bags. Thank you to the Director General, Benjamin Roberts, Lazar and Fatou, of the GTB, for facilitating our extremely easy entry into The Gambia. ‘Welcome to the smiling coast’ – it was indeed.

‘The Twins’ – 2 x Ally Canoes – and the Overboard bags are on board, African style. Image © Helen Jones-Florio (‘Tijan the Birdman’ to the far left

We were met in arrivals by ‘Tajin the Birdman’.  Not only is the ‘Birdman’ an extremely knowledgeable ornithologist (he has even presented on the subject at schools in Norfolk, UK), but he also has a mini-bus to transport all our gear – and, not only that, he is an amazing source of information, having travelled to some of the areas we are about to , in Senegal (thanks to our friend, Owen, for the intro)

So, here we are, ensconced at Sandele Eco Retreat – with big thanks to old friends, Geri and Maurice – enjoying a few short days of luxury: electricity, running water – hot water too! and the Atlantic Ocean, within spitting distance. It doesn’t get much better than this. Actually, we hope it will (no disrespect to Sandele)…once we start the River Gambia Expedition proper.

An update and a few words of thanks, from us two (and, introducing the Sandele cat) to everyone who made this happen.

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

More updates coming as soon as – such as meeting up with our old friends, and Gambian team mates, Abdou & Ibu, on Friday. So, please keep checking in.
The Florios (H & Flo)

P.S. And, if you want to see where we are on the map, right now, check out our Yellowbrick Tracking webpage here

Yellowbrick 'YB3' Tracking Device - follow our (almost) every move on the expedition

Please click on the logo to go to our River Gambia Expedition map


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) (under 'Projects') 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
This entry was posted in Adventure, Carbon footprint, Culture, Documentary, Environmental, Expedition, Fundraising, Guinea, Photography, photography, Photojournalism, Portraits, River Gambia, Senegal, The Gambia, tradition, Travel, West Africa and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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