Guest blog post from Water-to-Go ambassador, Dave Love
I knew that circumnavigating The Gambia in the height of Summer was going to be HOT! While holiday-makers bask in the midday sun at their coastal resorts, with a refreshing Atlantic breeze keeping temperatures in their low 30s, up country, in the remote and rarely-visited villages, it was going to be a completely different ball game!
When preparing for any expedition, stay suitably hydrated is one of the most fundamental planning considerations. Yet there’ll always be a limit on how much water you can carry with you. So having a reliable and sustainable means of obtaining safe, clean drinking water is key.
Having used Water-to-Go bottles on all of my expeditions over the past 3 years, I knew they were more than up to the task of keeping me safe on this one. However, I was keen to see just how Gambia’s isolated village communities faired in the baking 45-degree heat of upper Gambia.
Starting in Banjul, The Gambia’s capital city, we began our journey south. There are two main roads in the Gambia; the aptly named South Bank Road, and the North Bank Road, both of which run from east to west, along the course of the Gambia River. Even at the country’s widest point, you’re no more than 10-15 km from the Gambia River itself or one of its principal tributaries. But that doesn’t always guarantee clean fresh water, and most villages rely heavily on a small number of wells and boreholes that are severely affected by seasonal drought.
Our first stop was Soma, a small town 5 miles inland on the south bank. Also being a passionate youth development champion, I had heard of a thriving Scout centre here. We arrived at a small walled compound and were immediately greeted with the laughs and bustle of young boys and girls playing football and all manner of games inside.
Knowing that the centre was keen to develop its ability to offer hikes, camps and expeditions to its scouts I was keen to support this however I could and Water-to-Go kindly agreed to providing 20 bottles to do just this. We spent the whole morning explaining to the scouts and staff the filter technology, demonstrating how they can turn filthy well water into pure, safe, crystal clear, drinking water. The sheer amazement of the kids and their eagerness to give it a go themselves was unbelievable. The centre will now be using these bottles to enable their very first scout expedition. Awesome!
As we travelled further up country, the temperatures started to become unbearable. Having just flown in from the UK into 30 degree costal temperatures to rapidly finding ourselves in excess of 40 degrees, it was clear to see we needed to acclimatise fast. We were consuming around a litre of water an hour, most of the time filling up from local wells, boreholes and irrigation ditches – thankfully with no adverse effects for the entire trip.
It just goes to show the effectiveness of Water-to-Go’s filter technology, the value of which cannot be underestimated when you are in desperate need of hydration without a clean, reliable water source.
Altogether, the expedition took just over a week, stopping at as many remote communities as we could to dish out medical aid and stationery supplies that we had brought over from the UK. We experienced flat tyres, close encounters with lions, river crossings, tribal celebrations, dodgy meals, big smiles, friendly faces, and memories to last a lifetime. All the ingredients of a successful expedition.
Thankfully, staying hydrated was simply one problem that I didn’t need to worry about.
You can read the full expedition blog at: www.loveadventures.co.uk/around-the-gambia-blog/