1. 'On-the road images' from the expedition: Jones & (p)Hadley), the donkey, walking early morning, The Gambia, West Africa, 2009.

    Image: Florio-2009
    Early morning in the road with the one of our donkeys, (p)Hadley, whilst our other one, Neil, pulls the cart with the camera equipment and camping gear. After 4-5 hours, we’ll swap the donkeys over and Neil will get his chance to walk up front, unhindered by the cart :)

    My favourite part of the day…..before the heat really sets in.

    'A Short Walk in The Gambian Bush - 930km African odyssey'

    The donkeys were very kindly loaned to us for the duration of the expedition from The Gambia Horse & Donkey Trust, run by Heather Armstrong.


  2. January 6th 2011 - ‘A Short Walk in The Gambian Bush - 930km African odyssey’ expedition blog transfer is now complete. It seems fitting to have Florio’s ‘Kalaji at Dawn’ image up here as this signifies our journey so succinctly - being this was our little team, on the road, at dawn, every morning for 6 weeks.

    Whats to come? Any further press or expedition related material that comes in from today onwards. Plus, news to follow shortly about our next BIG non-motorised adventure - twice as long and twice as far as A Short Walk, taking in four countries. However, it won’t all be walking this time but there will be a fair amount of ground and river to cover -  around 3000km of it

    Thanks to everyone who made the journey possible - particularly our Gambian team mates, Janneh, Samba and Momadou (and lets not forget the donkeys: Neil, Paddy and (p)Hadley from The Gambia Horse and Donkey Trust). And thank you to all of you who  have lived the journey with us, through the blog. We hope you enjoyed it as much as we have.

    Watch this space for more on the next BIG expedition

    Jones & Florio


  3. Blog Entry- June 2010: Pulitzer Prize-winning NYC photo editor, Stella Kramer, interviews Jones for her blog, Stellazine, about her (Jones’) ‘experience, and what she learned about herself, about travelling with donkeys, and where home really is….’
    Main Image © Jones-2009: Fula tribe boys playing in the field as Florio sets up his trademark black cloth in the background, ready to photograph the village chief.

    The inimitable Stella Kramer asked me if she could interview me for her blog, Stellazine. Ermmm……ok! I really admire her work so I was extremely flattered that she asked me. She said she was really interested in hearing my story because I had kept the blog whilst on the road (and obviously still do). Her questions were great and answering them took me back to the journey and made me want to literally be back on those dusty roads.

    Here is the interview. I hope you enjoy.

    http://blog.stellakramer.com/2010/06/short-walk-in-gambian-bush-helen-jones.html (images from both myself and Florio – i.e. he took the ones with me in them!)

    Neil, the donkey, and Jones - our trusty road companions are going home, Makasutu Culture Forest, The Gambia, 2009

    Neil, the donkey, and Jones (getting a wee bit teary) - our trusty road companions are going home, Makasutu Culture Forest, The Gambia, 2009

    Image: Florio-2009-Gambia

  4. The West African expedition team are welcomed into the village of Sambel Kunda by a whole school of children singing and clapping; You Tube footage of visiting The Gambia Horse & Donkey Trust and messing about on the Gambia River.

    Road Stories - Blog entry: Nov 2009

    A day on the Gambia River, near to Sambel Kunda (where The Gambia Horse & Donkey Trust is (http://www.gambiahorseanddonkey.org.uk/). We had stopped by for a couple of days rest and to drop off one of our donkeys, Paddy, and swap him for (p)Hadley – he being a slightly more mature donkey to make the rest of the journey with us.

    A Short Walk in The Gambian Bush expedition team – messing about on the river (Gambia)

    'Wobbly Productions' featuring, Samba Lee, Jones & Janneh (Florio on vocals). Momadou had decided to stay behind with his new wife who lived in the village and redeem himself - after having deserted her a week or so ago to come on the road with us!

    And check out this welcome we got at Sambel Kunda from the local school kids, who had apparently been  waiting for us for hours in the heat, singing and clapping the whole time. Amazing…….

    Paddy (the donkey) comes homeA massive welcome from the school kids in Sambel Kunda and The Gambia Horse & Donkey Trust team

    all together now: ‘Gambia, little Gambia……..’

    Image: Florio-2009-Gambia (me, recording the singing. And being the big softy that I am, at the same time hiding the tears of joy behind my sunglasses, at such a welcome from the kids – and perhaps a little from plain old exhaustion after 14 days walking!)

  5. Video clips: ‘Gambia, Little Gambia….’ sing the school kids as they welcome us into the village of  in Sambel Kunda, when we visit the home of our expedition donkeys, The Gambia Horse and Donkey Trust (TGHDT). Then a little r’n’r for footage of the team on an afternoon on the Gambia River.

    Blog Entry: March 2010

    Our first experiment with putting footage from the expedition on You Tube. Its all the rage apparently. We have much more so watch this space.

    'Wobbly Productions' Presents:

    Movie clip 1: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Yc6Yt25peZ0 Arriving at Sambel Kunda – home of The Gambia Horse & Donkey Trust (and home to Paddy, Neil and Hadley -our faithful road-hardy donkeys). This was one of the most memorable, tuneful and loudest welcomes that we had on the journey. We were greeted by at least 50+ school kids – all singing and clapping as they led us into the stable yard of the GH&DT. Amazing and very very touching.

    A Short Walk in The Gambian Bush

    Movie clip 2: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0qj0vq3Q6qo&feature=relatedA day off on the River Gambia,near Sambel Kunda, for the Short Walk team (Momadou, our donkey handler,  had decided to stay home with his new wife who lives near Sambel Kunda and who he had not seen for a couple of weeks). Being on the Gambia River is one of mine and Florio’s all time favourite things to do; we are on it whenever the opportunity arises! Its so peaceful, as you will see. Also, when the sun is going down, and its getting to the cooler part of the day, the wildllife really comes alive and the air is filled with birdsong and the river with jumping fish……..a truly stunning sight to see.

    Gibril from The Gambia Horse & Donkey Trust passes us on the raod.

    Gibril, the vet, from TGHDT passes us on the road, after we leave Sambel Kunda. He is on route to administer their routine, much needed and free, veterinary treatment to the local villages in the surrounding area’s.

    If you have a moment, please visit the GHDT website to see the amazing work that founder, Heather Armstrong, and her team of volunteers are carrying out in The Gambia. They are a charity so are completely reliant on donations. Even if you can’t donate yourself right now, please spread the word. Lastly, please be aware that there are some disturbing images on the site BUT, there are many great success stories too.

    Many thanks. Florio & Jones


    Images: Florio-2009

  6. A Short Walk in The Gambian Bush - a 930km African odyssey: afterthoughts and musings about a very special West African adventure.

    Main Image: Florio-2009 Mr & Mrs Bah, Tuba Dabbo Village.

    The road to Fatoto -  the last village at the end of THe Gambia, before Koina

    The road to Fatoto - the last village at the very eastern tip of THe Gambia, before reaching Koina village (our half way point)

    Image: Jones – The Gambia – 2009

    Friday 18th December 2009 – Mandina River Camp, Makasutu Culture Forest.

    It’s been almost a week since we returned from our Short Walk In The Gambian Bush expedition. The week has not been as laid back as we had wished for, or needed, however there has still been time to reflect over the last 6 weeks on the road.

    Firstly though, we bid a poignant farewell to Neil and (p)Hadley yesterday – our four-legged friends who walked all around the country with us. They were picked up by their vet Gibril and they should be back at The Gambia Horse and Donkey Trust in Sambel Kunda by now, ensconced in their familiar paddock and stables – their home. We will truly miss those beautiful animals. They are amongst the most hard-working, loving and loyal creatures that you can come across. It’s almost like having a dog (they helped me not to miss Mr P, my dog back in London, too much anyway!).

    Momadou will also be back in Sambel Kunda with his new wife. I’m sure she will be very happy to have him home again. Janneh is taking a much-deserved week off, spending time with his two sons and continuing to build his house and we look forward to seeing him back here at Makasutu on Sunday. Samba carried on his usual day job here at Makasutu when we got back but is now taking a couple of well-deserved days rest too with his two wives and seven kids!. However, we did have to drag both him and Janneh out last night to do the ‘Fatou Show’. She is the equivalent of Oprah to The Gambia it seems!

    It was a live show and we had about 5 minutes to plug Gardens For Life, The Balabu Conservation Area and Makasutu Wildlife Trust before an all-singing, all-dancing Senegalese group came on to mime their tribute to the president of The Gambia (Yahya Jammeh) and his family members! Gambia TV is entertaining stuff, to say the least.

    The 'Short Walk' team are welcomed back to Makasutu by the Jola women dancers and Gambia TV

    The ‘Short Walk’ team are welcomed back to Makasutu by the Jola women dancers and Gambia TV

    Image: Jones – The Gambia – 2009

    Florio and I continue to work (and get some more walking in too, now that we are addicted to it!) – no rest for us but then when you have the Madina Balong and the mangroves as your back yard, and the scorching sun high up there into the bargain, we can hardly complain. Thank you to James and Lawrence – our trusty old mates and hosts (here at beautiful Makasutu Culture Forest). You guys are the business.

    Florio has a travel piece to write for The Indepedent newspaper, in the UK, and we both have to edit the gazillion images that we’ve taken to see what we want to do with them. We will put as many as possible up on the blog before we run out of space! After that, we’ll probably link a site of the rest of the images from his website (www.floriophoto.com).

    We also have to carry on pushing to raise more funds from the walk for Gardens For Life through http://www.justgiving.com/gardensforlifegambia which the expert fundraisers at The Eden Project in Cornwall, UK, will be taking over from us for now. They will ensure that any further donations come here to the Gambian schools within the Balabu Conservation Area.

    Aside from all of the above, we will also be looking at potential exhibitions in London, New York and The Gambia. Maybe even a book in the making……who knows……

    We all feel richer from this journey, in so many ways. By choosing to walk, we were able to see so much more of The Gambia which has been fantastic. It was such a perfect time of year to walk here too as the rains had just finished and the country was alive – on the land, in the air and in the rivers and balongs. I have never seen so many shades of green in one place. Visually, it was truly stunning. Harvesting of groundnuts, cassava, melons, rice etc surrounded us, throughout the whole journey. This country is abundant in its agriculture. And the Gambians work bloody hard! That’s something else we witnessed along the way.

    Shopping for vegetables and dried fish, Chamen, The Gambia

    Shopping for vegetables and dried fish, Chamen village, The Gambia

    Image: Jason Florio – The Gambia – 2009

    Whilst on the walk, we  met interesting and inspirational people all the time – from West-South-East-North. And, of course,  multitude of kids surrounded us everywhere we went (regardless of whether we wanted some peace or space at times!). However, they have to be the most unashamedly tactile and loving kids you can hope to meet.

    Gambians have big families and they all tend to live together in one compound – virtually on top of each other. This means that the kids, from toddler-size upwards, are often left to their own devises, to roam around of their own free-will and pleasure, whilst the mums get on with a multitude of everyday chores that include washing, cooking, cleaning the compound and working in the fields with the men. However, the small kids every move will inevitably be watched by an eagle-eyed older sister (in most cases, it seemed the females played the carer role whilst the boys will……well….. be boys!) – even if it looks as if she isn’t paying attention half the time! I say older, but she may only be 2 or 3 years older than her younger sibling. Nonetheless, they take on the mantle of surrogate mother very early on and with apparent effortlessness and this commands a certain respect – which they receive from their younger family members.

    A tired Florio - camp for the night, Chamois Bunda, The Gambia

    A tired Florio - (counting cows) - Camp for the night, Chamois Bunda, The Gambia

    Image: Jones – The Gambia – 2009

    It was so refreshing to see this community spirit. It reminded me of when I was a child and my grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins and sisters were always near by. But then, as one gets older that inexorably changes. Grandparents may pass, aunts, uncles, cousins move away and you may move on too. Conversely, this does not happen a great deal in the majority of Gambian families. A son or daughter may go off to find work or go to school in the bigger towns (or even another country) but this is so that they can help support their families back home. And, they often come home, back to The Gambia. There is a real sense of loyalty, commitment and, especially, that respect within Gambian families that is a joy to behold. They stick together!

    Jones, Momadou & Neil with our usual audience of curious Gambian kids

    Jones, Momadou & Neil with our usual audience of curious Gambian kids

    Image: Jason Florio – The Gambia – 2009

    As mentioned, we found The Gambia to be both culturally and agriculturally rich. We were truly enthused by how much we experienced as we traversed the dusty roads, sandy pathways and ventured deep into the Gambian bush.  It’s a beautiful country. Come see it for yourself. I doubt very much that you would be disappointed.

    With love and thanks for stopping by to share our journey

    Jones, Florio, Janneh, Samba, Momadou and Neil & (p)Hadley

    PS we will continue to put up our walking images – each one has its own story to tell of the journey, The Gambia, the people and anything else that we may have forgotten to add! So, please keep checking in x

    Images: Florio & Jones - 2009, The Gambia, West Africa

  7. Homage to our sweet road mates, Neil and (p)Hadley, the donkeys. ‘A Short Walk in The Gambian Bush - a 930km African odyssey’ would not have been the adventure it was without them.

    Thanks a million to Heather Armstrong and the girls at The Gambian Horse and Donkey Trust. These guys do amazing rehabilitation work out in The Gambia and they rely on donations from the public (and volunteer workers). Please take a minute to check out their site and even if you can’t donate at this time, then please spread the word.

    Many thanks, the Short Walk expedition team


    Images: #1,2,3,4,5,6,8,9 - Jones  #7-Florio 2009

  8. A very sad goodbye and thanks ‘jarama’ to Neil and (p)Hadley the two donkeys, who walked 930km with us around The Gambia, as they leave Makasutu to go home to the Gambian Horse and Donkey Trust, further up country in Sambel Kunda, The Gambia, West Africa.

    Images: Jason Florio – The Gambia – 19th December, 2009

  9. Meet the expedition team behind ‘A Short Walk in The Gambia Bush - a 930km African odyssey’ Portraits by Jason Florio (and Helen Jones)

    Images: #1,3,4,5 - Florio #2 - Jones 2009, Makasutu Culture Forest, The Gambia, West Africa.

    #1- Helen (‘Boss Lady’) Jones - Co-expedition leader and photography producer

    #2 - Jason (‘Mappin’ out The Gambia’) Florio - Co-expedition leader and photographer

    #3 - Ablie (‘The Negotiator’) Janneh - security, negotiator and Mandinka language teacher

    #4 - Samba (‘Silafando’) Leigh - cultural advisor

    #5 -Momadou (‘Jamtang!’) Bah - chief donkey handler (The Gambian Horse and Donkey Trust)

    December 19th 2009 

    Thanks to our good friends and hosts at Makasutu Culture Forest, James English and Lawrence Williams http://www.makasutu.com/

    Also, David Jefferies at Addict, UK for the clothing and tents http://www.addict.co.uk/

  10. Jason Florio’s beautiful B&W photography from the Short Walk in The Gambian Bush expedition.

    Image: The team, donkeys and cart on the road, on the last day of the journey, leaving Banjul.