After sightseeing the previous day, we decided to sign up for something a bit more active – Canyoning.
We had never heard of canyoning before getting to Dalat. Essentially the term covers a mixture of abseiling down waterfalls, water slides and free jumps into water.
After a tedious pickup schedule all around Dalat, we made our way to the place where we would be starting, which surprisingly turned out to be Datanla Falls which we had visited the day before. At this point I was a bit sceptical since it didn’t seem that great the day previous. We made our way past the main fall to a small rockface, where the guides setup some ropes to teach us how to abseil, before getting onto anything complicated like waterfalls. It looked really easy but was surprisingly difficult (the last time I had abseiled was in Cub Scouts!), however after a second attempt we had got the hang of jumping down rather than just walking, which would be necessary sometimes.
From here it was a short hike to the first proper descent of the day. This one was quite easy, being next to a waterfall rather than in one, but at the bottom it was an unceremonious plunge into the cold water which certainly woke us up! It was obvious that we were going to be damp for the majority of the day!
The next descent was again down a dry rock face, but this one could be done as a pair, so me and Katy went together. There was fast moving water at the bottom so there was no jumping allowed, and we safely lowered ourselves in then followed the rope out. At this point we were really enjoying ourselves, this canyoning lark was pretty easy!
We stopped for lunch after this, where the team of guides somehow produced a massive Banh Mi picnic with tons of baguettes, meat and vegetable fillings, followed by loads of fruit. It certainly set us up for the afternoon ahead…
In between all this, I can’t remember the exact order, there were several ‘water slides’ down shallow waterfalls. The first was simple and fun enough, the second we had to go backwards! Even with helmets it was pretty scary but we survived.
After lunch we moved onto the next descent, which was horrible. Considering we’d been down quite easy drops before, we now had to descend down a very fast moving waterfall, after a third of which you were pretty much unable to see and after two thirds you were supposed to jump backwards, blind. We held back and let others go first, which perhaps wasn’t the best idea as we were utterly terrified when it came to our turn. To make it worse, there was an easier side and a harder side, and as there were more girls than boys in the group I was ‘volunteered’ to take the hard side.
After a very slow first section in which I have never held a rope so tightly in my life and was convinced I was about to fall to my death, I discovered why this was the hard side – I was total submerged by the waterfall. Eventually after struggling for a while I worked out it was easier to look down and slowly continued the descent, until I got to the final third. I was more than happy to let go, quite honestly I couldn’t wait! The difficulty was trying to hear the guide shouting jump when it was safe, with water running all around you. After shouting and confirming about 3 times I let go and was suddenly deep underwater – minus my helmet and GoPro as it happens (you can see in the video below). It was literally the most terrifying thing I’ve ever done and I can’t even say it would be easier a second time – however I’m glad I did it! Katy had a similarly scary experience though she made it down more gracefully than I did!
Check out videos of both of us below:
After this it was time for a free jump off a cliff, in which the nerves finally got the better of me. Most people did the 7 metre jump, which was scary but you could see the water and it was fairly straightforward. However a couple of the guys, including me, held back for the 10 metre jump, which involved a running jump over a blind cliff edge. It took a while but some of the others finally did it and loved it, unfortunately I made the fatal mistake of stopping and looking over the side, at which point my brain obviously tried to calculate that it was too dangerous (even though it was fine) and I just couldn’t do it. So after a while I sheepishly just did the 7 metre jump, looking a bit stupid after all that build up. All I can say is I am even more determined I will do a proper cliff jump before we get home!
The final ‘event’ of the day was supposed to be the hardest, partly because you couldn’t see any of the waterfall before you started, and also because there was only rock for half of the descent, after which you had to dangle and repel down in mid air, while going through a waterfall. It was intriguingly named ‘The Washing Machine’.
It was scary but not as bad as the one before, more just exciting. The most scary bit was letting go towards the end because you landed in fast flowing water going down some rocks and didn’t appear again until 5 metres downstream. However we both completed it perfectly ok, and as we had gone towards the start, had the pleasure of watching all the others do it – some of which didn’t repel quickly enough, leading the water to start spinning them around like a washing machine – hence the name.
Video of me doing it below:
Now all that was left was a tough hike back up to the top and the day was over. We were absolutely exhausted but it was such great fun it was definitely worth it. If you’re in Dalat and fancy doing the same thing, the tours are run by a company called Groovy Gecko who have an office in the centre of Dalat or offer their tours through various hostels. The guides running it are really good fun, and to top it off it only cost £20 each for the day! Highly recommended.