The River Rider
Andy Leemann was born to be a traveller and adventurer. Starting off with extended ski and climbing tours, he discovered water sports at an early age and soon learnt how to handle boats under challenging conditions.
In his early 20s he bought himself an old Volkswagen van and travelled from Switzerland all the way down to South Africa where he worked and lived for a year. Another year he spent travelling in South America – Patagonia, the Andes, and the Amazon and Napo rivers were just a few of the places he visited and explored. Extended travels in South East Asia, Polynesia and the Pacific and trips through northern America followed – from west to east and from the Mississippi upwards to the Canadian border. As well as land travelling he has many years of experience as a professional cruising and racing skipper on both traditional and modern sailing vessels, and has covered more than 100,000 nautical miles.
In 1996 friends introduced him to his first RIB tour, using a 6-metre inflatable. They travelled along the Pacific coast from Costa Rica to Panama, dipping into all the little rivers and creeks along the way. ‘That trip got me infected,’ Andy says today. ‘Even for somebody like me, who had been exploring the world for years on land and on water, this trip was a revelation. Suddenly a whole new world of possibilities opened up.
From then on I have been concentrating on rivers and their systems, on the idea of taking one or two RIBs and exploring places well off the beaten track, on the possibility of entering into nearly unknown or almost forgotten territories.’
Andy’s passion for what he does is beyond question… He is a man in love, and like most men in love he’s on a mission and is packed with the energy, determination and desire to achieve his goals. Barely a few days after completing the first ever expedition tracing the mighty Brahmaputra from its source in Tibet to the Bay of Bengal, far from being exhausted, Andy spoke excitably and passionately about his big plan to create awareness about rivers and save them.
‘Roads have sounded the death knell for rivers and river folk in many parts of the world. It is sad that we do not take care of our most important source, ”WATER”, he says. The 55-day expedition down the Brahmaputra, which Andy and his team completed on 24th November 2010, was his sixth full expedition, having previously led Expeditions down the Orinoco, Rio Negro (South America), the Mekong (South East Asia), the Zambezi (Africa) and the Ganga (India), Brahmaputra (Tibet/China, India, Bangladesh), Gomati and Kaladan (India, Myanmar).
Andy’s Company: Ribexpedition and Adventure
The exploration of the giant river systems of Asia, Africa and Latin America is one of the last big adventures on earth. In a world that is running out of “classical” adventures, river expeditions are the response to the individual`s desire to find uniqueness, unlimited horizons and special and lasting experiences.
The objective of Rib Expedition & Adventure is the worldwide organization and realization of river expeditions with inflatable boats.
The expeditions lead into regions and rivers where navigation with regular vessels is impossible.
The initial expeditions will be carried out by a small and experienced core team including some journalists (film, photo, print) who will document the trip. Subsequently their accounts will be published through all appropriate media channels. In addition to the core team of professionals, NGO partners, sponsors and guests may join this trips.
The trips planned have their roots in historical undertakings. They mirror the expeditions dared by 18th century explorers and lead into the deep jungle and untouched regions which have remained almost unchanged since the days of pioneering.
RIB Expedition and Adventure, is trying to bring back the focus on the forgotten rivers of the world, and most importantly, the forgotten people, who live on and along the rivers.
Not till very far back in times; Rivers were the main source of transport, till the roads were made and extensively used. Slowly rivers, our natural highway were forgotten and so were the people living on it. A whole life style along the rivers was left behind.
The Expedition boats travell to places that can’t be reached by car and that have therefore not been served or visited. The expeditions demonstrate that the rivers could be used as a gateway for help.