Canyoning in Da Lat, Vietnam
The main reason we made our way to Da Lat, was to experience the canyoning. After seeing a few pictures beforehand and having never been abseiling before, we thought why not?!
Da Lat was the only place in Vietnam where I actually had to wear a jumper while walking around at night. The altitude of the town causes lower temperatures compared with the rest of Vietnam. There’s also contrast with Da Lat compared to the rest of the country in terms of the architecture of the buildings and look of the town, which isn’t quite the conventional Asian style and I would say more of a European style.
As the main selling point to bringing tourists to Da Lat, you won’t find it difficult to find somewhere to book your canyoning trip. We booked ours through our hostel for $23 each. The actual company who we did the canyoning with was Highland Sport Travel. I couldn’t recommend this company enough, they were fantastic. It’s fair to say I was shitting myself having never abseiled before, but I was extremely safe at all times. The company put health and safety at the forefront of everything.
We were picked up from our hostel at around 8am and made our way to the astounding Dantala Waterfalls, where we would get our first taste of abseiling. First thing was first, as soon as we arrived, we were fitted with all the necessary equipment. Following the fitting of the equipment, it was the tedious, but very important health and safety talk and demonstration. We also learnt the correct technique for abseiling on a small mud hill, including how to hold the rope, how to jump down and also how to get back up if we fell (luckily I didn’t need to use this technique, but a couple of others did).
Following the safety demonstration, it was time for a slightly nerve racking walk around the stunning falls, to the first dry cliff which we would abseil down. Now as I write about how nervous I was pre-abseil, I do feel like I was being slightly over-dramatic, but as I was waiting for my turn, I definitely didn’t. I was hardly in hysterics and I kept my nerves to myself, but I was definitely anxious as it approached my turn. However, as I was making my way down the cliff and the instructor was shouting ‘don’t be lazy, be crazy!’ (all the instructors said this as new people were ready to abseil) all my fears suddenly disappeared. Abseiling was brilliant! I absolutely loved it.
Next up was another and slightly more intimidating dry cliff to abseil down. I say slightly more intimidating, but I was more than ready for the descent this time. The second cliff was more difficult than the first abseil, however, it was nothing compared to what awaited us.
Right, so the first two abseils went by without any complications, ‘I’ve got this in the bag’ I thought.
On our way to the next location we made a slight detour, floating down the river with our life jackets on. This was a welcomed break from the adrenaline rushed abseils. On the way down the river we slid down two natural water slides, not the comfiest slides in the world, the rocks weren’t as smooth as a man made slide.
As we approached our next location, the roar of water became louder and louder. It then became apparent this was from the waterfall which we would be abseiling down. This was a different kettle of fish. Abseiling down a huge, fast, wet and slippery waterfall was totally different to a dry cliff. Before we tackled the waterfall, it was time for lunch, which we ate just by the falls.
Finally, it was time to descend down the 25 metre giant. We took our shoes off for more grip with our socks and made our way to the starting point. I was starting to feel the nerves again this time and rightly so, the waterfall seemed gigantic! As we were abseiling down, the water pummelled our down on our helmets. The noise was deafening. We kept our heads down, as to make sure we didn’t drown from the sheer amount of water falling on us. The second half of the waterfall starts to go inwards, so it becomes more and more difficult to walk/jump down. As we reached around 4 metres from the lake below, the instructor shouted ‘JUMP!’ Without a glance backwards, we pushed ourselves from the cliff and made a leap of faith backwards into the lake.
Absolutely unreal, that was 10x better than the other abseils!!
As we made our way to the final abseil, it was time for some cliff jumping. There was the choice of two jumps, a 7 metre standing jump or an 11 metre jump which needed a run up. Not wanting to look like a let down, I went for the 11 metre jump as well as the 7 metre jump. I slightly panicked on my run up and almost didn’t jump far enough into the lake below. Luckily I didn’t and I survived to tell the story.
It was finally time for the last abseil of an amazing, much better than I expected day. This cliff/waterfall was nicknamed ‘The Washing Machine’. However, having given you all the details of the other three abseils, I’ll leave it up to you to find out just exactly why it’s gotten that nickname.