Canyoneering or Canyoning is a popular activity in Da Lat, Vietnam. In fact, visitors from all over the world are drawn to this small city that was once occupied by the French. Oui, c’est vrai. We happened to be the ignorant kind of tourists who had never even heard of such an activity. This quickly changed.
The amazing hostel, Lee Backpacker’s Hostel, sat us down during check in and gave us their activities book. It included various companies that offered Canyoning. The descriptions were brief, but the staff re-assured us that everyone did it and loved it. So we signed up without giving it much thought. The hostel staff even recommended which company to go with. Highland Sport was apparently not only the cheapest one, but had the best guides who also took lots of photos.
We woke up next morning and got on the bus still half asleep. The journey to the canyoning spot was short. The guides began their safety speech before we even arrived. We weren’t too worried until we got our waivers and helmets. Then, it was time to train us on descending cliffs.
I Almost Backed out of Canyoneering
Everyone in our medium-sized group seemed fearless and managed to lean backwards over a cliff, then do crazy looking jumps down without breaking a sweat. I was the only one who had a moment of weakness that led to tears and me almost backing out.
After managing to ascend the practice cliff, the tallest, manliest, big-bearded guy came over to me. He told me that he was terrified of heights which is why he kept doing these activities. I asked if it got easier and he laughed. He is terrified every single time. No matter how many times he does it. But he kept going. This was enough motivation for me to keep going.
Practice Over, Now What?
It was a long downhill journey to get to the beginning of the canyoneering course. You could pay extra to slide all the way down, but no one in our group was doing it. When we got to the starting point we had to wait for about 10 minutes for another group to go and then the fun began!
There were three total cliffs, one optional cliff jump and one head first, dangerous, back-breaking slide down a small waterfall. I managed to do everything and the jump was the easiest part for me. Isaac really hurt his back on the waterfall slide because he couldn’t make himself “limp like a noodle.” Yes, those were the instructions.
Near-Death (Kinda) Experiences
We all almost died on the last descend. It was through a waterfall that required perfect form and timing to literally not drown. I failed completely and had a mouthful of water when I let go to soon, so I fell over a meter backwards under the strong pounding of the waterfall. I honestly thought I would drown for a full minute but then emerged unscathed. If you don’t believe me, watch the video below and you’ll see:
All in all, it was a great experience and I’d do it again. I’d just avoid any waterfall descents as I am not taking a risk like that again. But hey, it’s good to learn your limits. I definitely recommend canoyining/canyoneering. It’s fun even if you’re terrified of heights like I am. If you survive, it’ll be a great story to tell the grandchildren (or your furbabies). My dogs loved it.
Oh, I almost forgot about our slogan: “don’t be lazy, be crazy!” Also, our guide described his manhood as a chili pepper. Small but spicy.