Mekong Expedition 2005


The majorcan Company “RIB Expedition & Adventure S. L.” again tries something completely new. After several expeditions and having successfully participated in the longest and toughest powerboat race in the world, the Rally Orinoco 2004, the Mekong expedition will now take place in November 2005. Rib Expedition & Adventure was founded at the beginning of 2004 by the Swiss Andy Leemann, who has for the past 10 years been operating several outlets for yacht accessories with his wife Brigitte Leemann. Even as a little boy, Andy Leemann learned how to handle boats. As a result, he added the love for water sports to his already favourite pastimes of skiing and climbing. Hardly of age, had the longing to discover the world taken him from Switzerland to South Africa in an old Volkswagen bus. Over the decades he collected global experiences by land and by sea in South Africa, South and North America, South East Asia, South Sea/Pacific and many other parts of the world. Everything changed when friends took him on his first Rib tour in a six meter long dinghy along the Pacific coast from Costa Rica to Panama in 1996. “After that I had caught the bug” says Andy L. today. “For me, a cosmos of unimagined possibilities opened up. Whatever type of map I got hold of, everything seemed to circle around rivers and river systems and the idea of taking the Rib beyond the beaten tracks deep into unknown areas, which I wanted to explore. In the end, exploring these gigantic river systems, whether in Asia, in Africa or in Latin America is one of the last big adventures of the earth.”

Searching for the last of these adventures, Andy L. followed Humboldt’s tracks in 2003, covering 2,600 km through the Rain Forest along the Amazonas using two dinghies with a crew of four each. The particular attraction of these expeditions is exploring the junglescapes, landscapes and animal paradises, which have hardly changed since the pioneers of the 19th century discovered them.

Rib Expedition & Adventure S.L., which has been set up for this kind of expedition, has the aim to use Ribs – these are dinghies with a firm hull – which are well suited to the purpose of exploring river courses and areas, which due to their special nature cannot be reached by normal boats.

Initial explorations during these global river expeditions are carried out by a team possessing significant experiences in expeditions (primarily journalists, who report extensively about the expedition) as well as a small number of guest participants, who have the opportunity of experiencing an expedition adventure at first hand.

Together with Impulse Tourism Co Ltd, Andy Leemann now probably faces one of his toughest challenges – an expedition to the Mekong River, South Asia’s lifeline, at 4,500 km one of the longest rivers in the world, which has hardly been explored to this date.

Andy Leemann and colleagues; amongst others Armin Schorch, the Southeast Asia expert of the team, who not only knows the Mekong River and the area surrounding it like the back of his own hand but has also smoothes the way through the governmental and administrative jungle.

The Company RIB EXPEDITION & ADVENTURE S.L. ready to start.

Having covered ca. 100,000 nautical miles so far, Andy Leemann is the perfect example of a sportsman and traveller.

China, Myanmar (Burma), Thailand, Laos, Kambodscha and Vietnam

The expedition route leads through six Asian countries: China, Myanmar (Burma), Thailand, Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam and can roughly be divided into 3 sections.

  • The upper course, from the sources in the Tibetan Highlands up to Golden triangle, where the frontiers of Burma, Laos und Thailand meet. Here the river cuts deep into the mountain landscape and is littered with waterfalls.
  • The lower reach begins at the Khone waterfalls. Here the river plunges 10 kilometres deep into huge cascades down to Cambodia. In South Vietnam, the Mekong River finally flows into the South China Sea through many distributaries in the vast Mekong delta.

  • The central section, which runs from the province of Ubon (Thailand) to Champasak (Laos), where the Mekong slowly reaches more shallow terrain.

The expedition is scheduled for 16 days and starts this November as soon as the rain season is over. This is important because the river needs to carry enough water for the boats to pass through even the most difficult and shallow sections.

The Ribs, without which such an expedition would not be possible, are produced by AB Inflatables. Rib stands for Rigid Inflatable Boat, which are extremely stable dinghies, consisting of glass fibre reinforced plastic hulls. Robust, fast, safe (unsinkable) and manoeuvrable they can also be used in the most challenging of waters.

In the meantime, the triumphal march of the Ribs has not only reached the race of Orinoco but also captured the leisure time market. Being relatively inexpensive and light they are not only easy to transport but also provide absolute safety. Here on Mallorca they are on offer in the Yacht Centre Palma and in the Marine Superstore.

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Anybody who wants to join in, either by sponsoring or by participating in the expedition or other follow-up expeditions can get more information from Andy Leemann under: 971 715 612 Yacht Center Palma

Mekong River Tour

In 2004, Andy Leemann and his team came first at the Oricono Rally.