British Adventurers Trek the Length of the Gambia River

British adventurers Chaz Powell and Tim Roberts have finished their expedition along the Gambia River. Starting from the river’s source in the Fouta Djallon highlands of central Guinea, they finished in the coastal Gambian city of Banjul. The pair covered 1,120km in 46 days.

Powell and Roberts followed the Gambia River through three countries, Guinea, Senegal and the Gambia. Photo: Tim Roberts

Powell and Roberts set off on January 24 and used local SIM cards to post regular updates on their progress. They set a solid early pace, despite the heat and humidity, but deep gorges and steep tracks slowed them somewhat as they approached the Senegalese border. In Senegal, their progress was further impeded by the Niokolo-Koba National Park, a sprawling tract of protected woodland, savannah and wetland. Powell and Roberts had not secured a permit to cross the area in advance of their expedition, and it looked like they would have to follow the river from outside the park. Such a detour would have forced them to abandon any claims to have trekked the full length of the river.

Fighting through the mangroves of West Africa. Photo: Tim Roberts

Fortunately, at the eleventh hour, they were granted a reprieve and allowed to cross the reserve with a park ranger escort. In the company of rangers Solly and Abdou, they traversed the park in four days, avoiding any close encounters with the more dangerous residents of this biodiverse area.

Powell and Roberts with their ranger escort, Solly and Abdou. Photo: Tim Roberts

From Senegal, Powell and Roberts entered the Gambia, the final country of their expedition. The pair put in some hefty 40km days as they approached the finish line, despite temperatures above 40ºC. On March 10, they reached the ocean, becoming the first people to have documented a full source-to-sea trek of the Gambia River.

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Chaz Powell to Trek the Gambia River