Dec 22 2011
When you’re travelling in Vietnam, taking tours can become a common theme of your trip. Tours can be great, but after you’ve done a few they can get a little repetitive. Lately I’ve been looking for a little more adventure in my travels around Saigon so when my friend recommended I take a quick weekend trip to the city of Da Lat, a six-hour bus ride or one-hour plane trip away, and give the extreme sport of canyoning a try, I jumped at the chance.
Canyoning is the term used for hiking through a canyon, which involves navigating rough and steep terrain. This may require you to climb, swim, jump or repel. Canyoning in Da Lat gives you several opportunities to repel — even a couple of chances to repel down a waterfall. Canyoning tours are offered by several companies in Da Lat, all of which have their own guides and gear to get you in, and out, of the canyon.
At 08:00 my tour picked me up from my hotel and we took a 15-minute drive before pulling off to the side of the road, seemingly in the middle of nowhere, to gear up. The quality of the equipment we were using was one of my major concerns, but it looked like it was in good shape; our guide assured me it was of the highest quality, and purchased from Singapore.
A quick hike into the forest brought us to our practice hill. Here we learned how to use the equipment and move along the rope. A short walk from the practice hill brought us to our first challenge, a 15-metre cliff. Being the first cliff I had ever repelled down, I took my time and reached the bottom, a metre-deep pool of water, unharmed.
Next we made our way to the slides: a small waterfall with somewhat smooth grooves that you could slide down into the deep water underneath. We slid down front-ways, backwards, and as a group and, although it was a little rough, it was a ton of fun.
After the slides we headed to the biggest challenge of the day: a 25-metre waterfall that we were to repel down. Here we had to walk slowly because the cliff face was slick from the water, plus once we hit the halfway point the falling water prevented us from being able to look at the guide on top. Also, at the very bottom, the rope was about three metres too short so we had to let go and fall in.
We triumphed and were rewarded with a lunch of bahn mi sandwiches and fruit, which tasted all the better because it was so hard-earned. Once lunch was finished we jumped off a 13-metre cliff into deep water below before we finished with our final repel down a waterfall they somewhat ominously call the Washing Machine. Here, after a few metres you are no longer able to touch the wall with your feet and you have to lower yourself into rushing water, which starts to spin you around, hence the name. It’s crazy because you’re hanging on a rope but, with the waterfall rushing over your body, you’re technically under water. And once you’re in the water, you have to quickly lower yourself or you’ll spin like crazy. It feels like you’re in the water for a few minutes, but it’s actually just four seconds.
Once we finished we took the long hike back to the road and got dropped off at our starting point at around 15:00.
If this is something you want to do, at least give yourself a weekend here, as Da Lat is a little too far for a day trip. At $30 for the day, the price is pretty reasonable, as it includes equipment, education, guiding and support; they also provide you with a very waterproof bag so you can bring a camera along to get pictures of you being super adventurous.
Pine Track Adventures
72B Truong Cong Dinh, Da Lat
(06) 3383 1916
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