The one thing we’d heard from many people about Da Lat, was that we had to do Canyoning whilst we were there. It was a must! The first thing we had to do was decide on a place to stay in Da Lat. The majority of accommodation had such good reviews, however we finally decided on a place called ‘Alan Hostel’ and it didn’t disappoint. We paid $5 night for a 10 bed dorm, breakfast AND a family dinner in the evening.
When we say dinner, it was more like a banquet! First of all, the 10 bed dorm was huge, with big comfy beds and so much space it didn’t actually feel like 10 people. The breakfast was the usual Vietnamese choice of bread with eggs or pancakes and a cup of tea or ice coffee, which was very enjoyable. And finally, the family dinner which was amazing! Everyone in the hostel sat down, whilst people kept bringing out plates and plates of food. It was all help yourself and the amount of food was crazy. On the first evening we had; chicken soup, stir fried beef with veg, stir fried chicken with veg, fried rice, roast potatoes, green beans, chips and I’ve probably forgotten a few things! And each night we had completely different dishes to the last. Go top this off, the beers also cheap, costing around a 80p per bottle. Safe to say we both were loving Da Lat already, before we’d even done any activities!
From reading reviews and going by what people had told us, there were loads of companies that offered canyoning all over Da Lat. A couple of girls had gone with the company our hostel works with the day before, and they’d really enjoyed their day, so we thought why not just stick to our hostel. About 8 other people staying at ‘Alan’s’ had booked on to the same day as us, so there was going to be a good group of us heading out.
What is canyoning?! Well we weren’t too sure either, but as it turned out, we were going to be essentially throwing our selves down cliffs and waterfalls for the next 6 hours! We set off at around 8am and by 9am we were all set and ready to go with all our equipment in tact; harness – check, helmet – check, life jacket – check, big boy pants – check! With a few more people booking onto the trip, there was about 15 of us, some looking more scared than others. The instructors gave us a quick demonstration, by abseiling down a little muddy bank whilst being harnessed to a tree at the top. By looking at it this tiny slope, about 3 metres in length seemed pretty easy to be fair, but I have to admit it still got my heart racing with everyone watching on! After this vigorous training exercise we were all deemed safe enough to descend 10 metres plus down slippery, vertical rocks – the beauty of South East Asia health and safety!
There was probably about 10 other groups also Canyoning and as we ended up being the last group to go, there was quite abit of waiting around on the first bit of abseiling. But on the plus side, it meant we could take our time for the rest of the day as no other group would be hot on our tails.
The first challenge was a 16m abseil down a vertical cliff face, and at about 3m from the bottom the rope you were using to abseil ran out,which meant letting go of everything and just letting yourself fall into water. Cue feeling like James Bond or Wonder Woman, this is one of the moments in your life where you really think you would benefit from having your own personal theme tune follow you around like in all the action films! It was really fun and just the right amount of ‘extreme’ for the first to start with, as everyone felt confident after this! Once finished, we were encouraged to do a backwards jump into the water, which I did and of course ended up swallowing and breathing in loads of gross water!
After all of the 25-30 minutes that it took to get us all down, the instructors obviously decided we’d worked so hard by this point (or it was the tactic to lose the other groups) so we sat down and had lunch, which consisted of basically all you can eat bread, cheese, meats and fruit. To make the most of the ‘included lunch’ I think Tom managed to have about 4 sandwiches! After re-fuelling we were ready to go onto the next challenges. This included a ‘water slide’, which was a rock formation that had been eroded by the river in a certain way so the rapids threw you down and whipped you around like a water park slide!. Most of the lads did this a few times, going down forwards and backwards, but once going forwards was good enough for me!
We did another abseil down some cliff faces, which was around 12m high, which we were all pros at since our first go. Another plus to this trip was that the scenery which was simply stunning. So when you got the bottom of each abseil you’d always have something to look at with waterfalls all around being flanked by cliffs and dense jungle!
On to our next ‘challenge’ and we had a ‘choice’ of doing a 7 metre cliff jump or the more extreme 11m. Those extra 4 metres may not sound very much more, however, the cliff face for the 11m jump stuck slightly outwards. Not only did you have to jump from a ridiculously high height, you also had to have a run up and channel your inner Greg Rutherford to make sure you cleared the cliff face too! Tom was feeling brave and went for it! He managed to clear the rocky ledge, but he must have put to much effort in to the distance as he started to over rotate before hitting the water landing on his face at the end, but that didn’t put him off doing more jumps!
I stuck to the 7m jump which was fun enough for me! Some people were better jumping than others.There was one woman who insisted on taking on the 11metre jump first, ran up to the cliff edge but for some unknown reason she didn’t actually jump?! Instead sort of walked over the edge of this 11m cliff and slid down all of the rocks below! Everyone just stood there in silence not knowing what to do, but thankfully she came up breathing with nothing more that a few bruises to her legs.
Our final abseil was called the ‘washing machine’. It consisted of abseiling about 10m down a cliff face and about half way down you start to descend through a waterfall itself. This was not a little trickle either, this was full blown rapids pounding you in the face! The water is hitting you so hard you could barely see and it was actually difficult to even breathe, all whilst still trying to abseil to the bottom of your rope. You basically just have to keep feeding your rope through and hoping you reach the bottom of it at some point. When you do finally reach the end of your rope, you’re thrown into the bottom of the water, which pulls you under, spins you around and shoots you out at the other end, and that’s why it’s called the ‘washing machine’!
Suitably ‘clean’, by 5pm we were all knackered, wet, and ready to go back and shower! In the evening (after another amazing dinner!) we headed to a place called ‘Maze Bar’, which practically speaks for itself! It’s a bar with many staircases, passages, weird characters and many other things which confuse you even when sober. Picture yourself in Alice in Wonderland and your almost there! It was a fantastic end to one of our favourite days!