Two months, two canoes, three countries, one mighty river. Writer-photographers Jason and Helen Florio made the intense 650-mile west African journey to document the people living on the banks of the River Gambia from its humble source to its tumultuous mouth at the Atlantic.
“The River Gambia is one of Africa’s last major un-dammed rivers,” Jason explains. “It emerges in a remote village in the Fouta Djallon highlands of Guinea, growing along its course through Senegal and The Republic of The Gambia for 700 miles to the Atlantic Ocean, where the unassuming rivulet widens to over 8 miles.”
“Communities along its length rely on it for their very existence, and with plans afoot to dam the river, we wanted to create a modern day account of the people who live and work along it’s banks before construction begins and their lives change.”
The source of the River Gambia emerging from under a rock in the Fouta Djallon highlands of Guinea.
Young boys pose for a portrait on the banks of River Gambia in Senegal. They said they had painted their faces like skulls and their chests with soccer team numbers for their own amusement.
Migrant workers from Guinea dig sand from the bed of River Gambia in Senegal in search of gold.
A village elder relaxes outside an abandoned colonial era warehouse in Kuntuar village in The Gambia. The village was once an important commercial hub in the peanut trade, but since the processing plant was moved to Banjul, the capital, Kuntuar has gone into decline.
A small ferry called a “barra” lands on the south bank of the river in eastern Gambia surrounded by cattle owned by Fula tribesmen.
Young Gambian boys head home after an afternoon of swimming near the village of Fatta Tenda.
The son of Bakary Dabo, the Alkalo (village chief) of Diagabu Tenda, The Gambia wearing a ‘fur’ coat on a cool morning.
Female migrants from Guinea Bissau work along the shores of a tributary of River Gambia, in The Gambia, collecting oysters that hang from the mangroves.
A mother and daughter lay cous out to dry on the rocks in the Fouta Djallon highlands of Guinea – source of the Niger, Senegal and Gambia rivers. In the background is the Dame de Mali, a rock formation in the profile of a woman – purportedly turned to stone for infidelity.
Amadou Djallow, a tailor by day and hunter by night photographed in his home village, Horé Dimma, Guinea where the source of River Gambia is located.
Musa Jallow with his pet patas monkey who he rescued after hunters killed its mother.
Captain Betran Jatta, one of the last few remaining full-time sailors on the River Gambia, sits aboard his tugboat waiting for the cargo of peanuts to be loaded onto the barges that he will pull down river to the captial Banjul for processing.
At the dock at Basse Santa Su in The Gambia, young boys wash motorcycles for pocket money.
See these people and places come to life in this video from the trip:
To see more details from the expedition and more work from the Florios, visit their website.