Canyoning in Dalat definitely goes down as one of the most scary yet exhilarating days of my life. Our sore muscles and battle wounds remain a constant reminder of how good of a day it really was.
We started the day oblivious to what was coming. Task 1 was descending down to the waterfalls, which was a fairly easy stroll. So far, so good.
Task 2 was our first abseil. A sheer drop in the midst of the forest, with a guide waiting at the bottom, no doubt with a first aid kit and a shot of whisky just in case. It’s not abseiling down that’s the scariest part; with your ropes steadied between your hands, your helmet tight and the guide carefully watching you up above, the likelihood that you’ll fall is next to nil. The scariest part is when you’re stood at the top, shuffling down onto the rock face, your legs at 90 degrees, your back parallel to the ground below, resisting the temptation to look down, and knowing in your mind that you’ve got to make it to the bottom.
2 dry abseils later, and shoes and shorts flooded with sand, leaves and water, we settled for a spot of lunch by the waterfall. We climbed some more and made our way to the first waterfall abseil. With a sheer drop of 30m, and water flowing down the waterfall faster than you can imagine, my stomach dropped every time I peered over the side.
Gripping the ropes so tightly, Matt and I shuffled our way down the side of the waterfall, water battering our faces whilst we were trying our best not to slip and fall. Exhilarating? Yes. Petrifying? Absolutely. As we reached 10m from the water, we had to let go of all ropes, lunge back and drop into the water. This was a task in itself; letting go of all ties, all ropes, being careful to dodge the rocks on the way down. Needless to say my stomach was in my mouth as we clambered onto dry land, but we made it. Waterfall abseil number 1, done.
A few cliff jumps and a spot of swimming later, we embarked on our last hike to the final waterfall. A cliff face so sheer that we weren’t allowed to peer over the side. Water flowing so fast that we couldn’t see the end point. As a hung off the side of the cliff, daring to look down, I assured myself that the quicker I got down, the quicker it would be over. I abseiled down the rocks with my heart pounding and hands clutching harder than ever before. It was then time to drop down, feed the line through my hands and drop vertically through the waterfall.
I now realise why it’s called the ‘Washing Machine’ – if you don’t feed the line quickly enough, the sheer power of the waterfall whirls and knocks you around like a 20-degree spin cycle. The end of the line quickly came and I dropped underneath the water, the waterfall pushing me under but my life jacket pushing me to the surface. This is a moment that I’ll never forget; fighting to find the surface, submerged in water with the waterfall battering my helmet, pounding my body against the rocks. Finally, I surfaced to find safety, calm waters and a few friendly faces.
Needless to say, it was one of the most frightening experiences of my life, but definitely the most thrilling. I’d recommend this day to anyone, but I suggest you leave any nerves or hesitations back at the van!