We were getting picked up from our hostel at 8am so we had to be ready by 7:30. We got up and went for breakfast at the bakery and got some kind of pastries with chicken, cheese, and vegetables on top.
The bus came and got us along with about 10 other backpackers destined for a canyoning (aka wet rappelling/abseiling) adventure at the Datanla Waterfall. It was the first thing we wanted to do in Dalat and we had never done it before, so we were beyond excited!
When we finally arrived, our guide gave us a brief lesson on the basics of rappelling, and we each had to practice walking and jumping backward down a small hill. After two practices each, we headed toward the falls for our first attempt at dry rappelling.
After feeding the rope through and leaning back until we were at a 90 degree angle with the rock face, we began inching our way down the 60ft wall. About 1/3 of the way down, the guide would yell, “1,2,3…JUUUUUUUUMP!!!” at which point we would loosen our grip and jump down the wall, then tighten our grip on the rope each time we made contact with the rock.
Once we got to the end of the rope, it was a gentle drop into the water, where we swam to the steps to move on to the next stop: a 10 foot free jump and a natural waterslide. We laid down on our backs and slid head first down the falls and were dumped into the water at the end. We had to hold our elbows in tightly and relax our bodies so we didn’t get banged up too badly, though it was still a little painful and we got choked out by all the rushing water!
Then it was time for our second attempt at dry rappelling. This one was a little over 50 feet, but a little more challenging than the first one. We had gotten more comfortable with the jumping so we tried some bigger ones this time. Once we got over the ledge, everyone started shouting “KIIIIISSSSSSS!” So we have this dorky picture now. 😛
Then we were off to the next waterslide. We got to go feet first this time, but it was really fast! And kind of painful again! But really fun, also. 🙂 We were advised to hold our noses this time which was a good thing because we were under pretty intense rushing water for most of the slide.
Now it was time for the real challenge: wet rappelling down an 82 foot waterfall. We were feeling lucky and decided to volunteer to go first. The rocks were really slick and it was easy to lose your footing because of the rushing water. I actually fell down near the top, but I was able to get back on my feet and continue the descent unscathed.
We didn’t realize how well we did until we watched the rest of the group make their way down. An Aussie girl was reduced to sobs, an Israeli guy fell and smacked his face on the rock, and an English girl was paralyzed with fear about half way through and ended up slipping and falling from about 30 feet up. Luckily there were no serious injuries, but I don’t think anyone was expecting this level of difficulty for their first time canyoning!
The face of the rock ended about 15 feet from the bottom, so once we got down to that point, we had to let go of the rope and fall on our backs into the water!
Once everyone stopped crying and shaking in fear, we moved on to the next free jump. This one had two options, a 36-foot jump or a 23-foot jump. Jojo jumped at the opportunity to be the first one off the 36-footer. This one was even more intense because you had to get a running start in order to clear the rocks.
Then we did the 23-footer together! Hitting the water was a little bit painful and I think it was my first time experiencing the “which way is up” sensation while struggling to get back to the surface.
Our last destination was the 53-foot rappel, affectionately called “The Washing Machine.” After about half way down, the rock face ends and we had to descend, on the rope alone, into the rushing falls that violently spun us around (hence the name) before being dumped into the water. One girl lost a shoe!
Our first time canyoning was a great success and will probably end up being a big highlight of the trip. Just another reason why we loved Dalat so much! We also met some great people which is always a bonus.
We got back to the hostel around 3pm and spent the rest of the evening hanging out in the city, getting dinner at the Night Market, and enjoying a couple Bia Saigons. This was definitely our favorite activity in Vietnam (and a great deal!) and we were glad to have added another adventure sport to our list of hobbies. Definitely a must-try if the chance arises!
Pastries: 37,000vnd ($1.73 USD)
Canyoning: 840,000vnd ($39.28 USD)
Dinner: 50,000vnd ($2.34 USD)
2 Beers: 28,000vnd ($1.31 USD)
Water: 10,000vnd ($0.47 USD)
Accommodation: 210,000vnd ($9.82 USD)
Total Spent: 1,175,000 ($54.94 USD)