The Mekong basin is one of the richest areas of biodiversity in the world. More than 1200 species of fish have been identified and there could be possibly as many as 1700. Fishing is a very important part of the economic activities in the area and a vital source of protein in the local diet. Estimates indicate that some 120 fish species are commercially traded but most of the fishery is based on 10–20 species.
In the Upper Mekong, the northern part of the river down to the Burma-Thai-Laos border, the river is relatively clear and fast flowing with the influx snow melt guaranteeing a relatively uniform circumstantial flow in the river. The water tends to be neutral, with a pH of 6.9 ranging to 8.2 and the nutrient level is low. In the Lower Mekong area the river is turbid, especially during the rainy season. Due to bank erosion the water gets a rusty-tan colour from the soil. The river temperature in the Lower Mekong varies between 21.1 to 27.8 °C (70–82 °F) and the pH fluctuates between 6.2 to 6.5. The two main biotopic areas in the river follow the division between the Upper and Lower Mekong. The fish in the fast-flowing upper reaches are dominated by different loaches (Cobitidae), sucker catfish (Sisoridae), hillstream loach (Homalopteridae) and carp (Garrinae). The slower middle and lower parts of the river are dominated by species of carp (Cyprinidae), catfish (Siluridae, Clariidae, Schilbeidae, Bagridae, Sisoridae and Akysidae) and murrels (Chanidae and Ophicephalidae).
No other river is home to so many species of very large fish. The biggest include the giant river carp (Probarbus jullieni), which can grow up to 1.5 metres (4 ft 11 in) and weigh 70 kilograms (150 lb), the Mekong Freshwater Stingray (Himantura chaophraya), www.easyindochinatravel.com which can have a wingspan of up to 14 feet, the giant pangasius (Pangasius sanitwongsei), Siamese giant carp (Catlocarpio siamensis) and the endemic Mekong giant catfish (Pangasianodon gigas), all three of which can grow up to about 3 metres (9 ft 10 in) in length and weigh 300 kilograms (660 lb). All of these are in serious decline, both because of dams and flood control and overfishing.
One species of freshwater dolphin, the Irrawaddy dolphin (Orcaella brevirostris), was once common in the whole of the Lower Mekong but is now very rare.
Among other wetland mammals that have been living in and around the river are the smooth-coated otter (Lutra perspicillata) and fishing cat (Felis viverrina).
The endangered Siamese crocodile (Crocodylus siamensis) is reported to occur along the Mekong but is very rare.
Click itinerary day to expand
In the morning we’ll transfer a couple of hours out of Ho Chi Minh City to Ben Tre – the gateway of the Mekong delta. Today’s ride will lead you right into the heart of the rural Mekong. Easy Indochina Bike Tours’ll begin cycling after a ferry ride across the Tien River at Mytho. The route will take you down narrow roads and lanes, past banana plantations, fields of sugar cane, and the lush green landscape of the delta. A section of biking even cuts off road onto gravel and dirt lanes, and weaves around hamlets, across water channels, and through quiet dense vegetation. This makes for superb biking. We’ll stay overnight on An Binh island
After breakfast, we’ll cruise up the Mekong River to visit a nursery garden where hundreds of young trees are waiting to be moved to the gardens. Then, we’ll keep boating across the river to bustling Cai Be floating market. We’ll visit a family-run business for producing rice paper - a key ingredient in Vietnamese cuisine, pop rice, popcorn making and coconut candy. After the boat trip, we’ll cycle to Cai Lay. There, we’ll stop for a brief rest and then continue riding to My Tho for lunch. We’ll also take some time to visit the ornamental Khmer pagoda of Vinh Trang before continuing to Tam Vu through lush gardens of seasonal fruits. In the late afternoon, we’ll drive back to Ho Chi Minh City to end the trip.
- Air-conditioned bus
- Support vehicle to carry gear, luggage, first aid
- English speaking tour guide
- Entrance fees
- Boat trips and ferries
- Pick up & drop off at your hotel
- Meals as mentioned (B = Breakfast, L = Lunch, D = Dinner)
- All biking gear (bike, helmet, tool kit, water cage)
- Water, snacks, soft drinks, and fresh fruit on cycling days
- Travel insurance
- Airport transfer in/out
- Personal expenses