Canyoning in Da Lat, Vietnam
April 1, 2015|Posted in: Vietnam
If you know me, you’ll be aware of; 1) How clumsy I am, 2) How uncoordinated I am and 3) How balance is just not for me. So whenever I decide to do something that requires more than walking in a straight line, I am physically exerting myself. So, when I knew I was visiting Vietnam, I knew I wanted to get active. After spending a month in Cambodia eating way too much and drinking even more, I knew this was the place to do it. So, I had planned to head to the ‘French Alps’ of Vietnam: Da Lat (via an excruciating 5 hour bus journey from Mui Ne). The cool mountain air was the first thing I noticed when I got off the sauna, I mean, bus. Thank god! I like the warmth, don’t get me wrong, but after constantly changing my clothes at least 3 times a day was getting ridiculous!
People that I had met on my travels who had either taken different routes, or the same but faster, all suggested canyoning in Da Lat. So, I booked on a day trip through the hostel for $25 (or £15 to us English folk). We were picked up at 8.15am, kitted up then driven only about 10 minutes up the road to the start. We were taken to a tree to be shown the ropes – no pun intended. Then each given a practice go. Easy peasy. Kind of…
We started off with a short trek through the jungle – me constantly being aware that my feet kept slipping out from under me. Not a great start. About 10 minutes later, one minor stick to the back of the leg, we arrived at our first cliff face. 15m high. But a dry wall, no waterfall. Thank god!
I wasn’t particularly nervous. Until the guide kept telling me to lean further back on the rope. That’s not natural, and I’m pretty sure I thought my upper body strength would give up altogether. But I made it! I even jumped down a little! Phew! Next!
Another short trek, as well a brief stint of floating down the river, we came to our next task, a waterfall slide! Pretty easy. Except, you forget how powerful water can be, and I managed to swallow half of the river through my nose and think I was going to drown! But I didn’t. 3 seconds later, my life jacket pulled me up.
Next, we came across our hardest task – the big waterfall! 25 metres high, and the rope we had to abseil down it was not that long… Brilliant. We were told to take off our shoes, as socks have better grip, go down slow, stop half way for “PHOTO!” then carry on until the guide shouts “JUMP!” in which you just let go of the rope and fall back. I was 4th in line, as I knew I didn’t want to be last, and thankfully I wasn’t, as I managed to slip twice! *fail* But I got myself back up, and carried on… until I forgot about the rope ending, and then just fell off the wall. Yep. Graceful as ever.
After everyone had been, we stopped for a lovely picnic of fresh fruit, baguettes and cakes before setting off to the cliff jump! There were 2 options, the 11m or 7m. However, the 11 metre required quite the run up to get you past the rock face, so not for the faint hearted! I did the 7m no problem, remembering to hold my nose this time!
Flagging slightly now, we carried on up the river, sometimes in it, sometimes out!
And so we came to our last task. The ‘Washing Machine Waterfall’. The name itself induced terror into some of the girls, and with some rather complicated instructions, it took a while for some of them to pluck up the courage. The basic jist was to walk down the 1st bit, until the cliff drops off, then pause for PHOTO! and drop our legs down straight and ‘quickly’ drop. This is where the water would ‘wash’ you (i.e. spin you around) then when you get to the end of the rope, to let go of the rope.
I don’t even remember what happened after the first bit, all I know is I got more river water up my nose and two rather bashed up knees. Ah well, I’m alive! We all were!
It was a brilliant day, with some great adrenaline rushes for those adventure seekers and a great way to meet people. You are constantly helping each other, making sure everyone is okay and giving support and help when needed!
There you have it! Even an uncoordinated, weak, clumsy person can complete this challenge, and I definitely recommend it to anyone that visits Vietnam. Have you been canyoning in Da Lat or elsewhere? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below!
Amy is the founder of thewanderlustadventures.com. Currently residing in Reading, UK with a love of adventure travel, writing and photography - she pretty much writes about whatever the hell she wants!