In truth one of the main reasons we were excited to come to Vietnam was for the canyoning, mentioned by almost everyone who has visited as some of the best in the world. We made a beeline on our bikes into the central Highlands of Vietnam and towards the beautiful mountain town of Dalat to give it a go! Having experienced some of the best and most thrilling examples of this extreme sport in Switzerland and Slovenia, Dalat had a lot to live up to, but here in this stunning and surprising region we came across a world class course and a day to remember: Dalat Canyoning!
Coming to Dalat after hearing rumours of this amazing adventure location: Dalat Canyoning
We knew nothing much of Da Lat other than canyoning before we headed over to Vietnam, in fact we only had a rather haphazard list of places scrawled down in haste on a piece of paper as to where we would actually visit over here. For such a large, or should I say long, country once we got our bikes we knew we would be making regular pit stops to experience the best it had to offer. But too tempted by the Dalat Canyoning rumours we stopped to check it out!
So no sooner had we got to grips with the bikes we headed up from the coast and into the beautiful mountainous central highlands region of Vietnam. This area totally blew our minds and shook to the core our visual impressions and expectations of what South East Asia looks and feels like! Up here you would be forgiven for thinking you are voyaging through an Alpine forest, covered in pine trees and ferns this is a far cry from the palm tree covered beaches we had come to expect…but we weren’t complaining, this change in altitude means only one thing for us: Adventure!
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Choosing the right company and tour!
One of the first things we discovered when we arrived in Dalat what the dizzying amount of companies all advertising “amazing” canyoning trips alongside other adventure tours. Of course, we knew we had to use a guide in order to stay safe, we have done canyoning many times before and know the importance of having the correct gear, a read on the weather and a knowledge of the route. But tour companies also often raise our suspicions, we avoid them at all costs and seeing how many were vying for our trade made us even more wary. Dalat Canyoning is on offer from a wide range of places but here we found the best!
We were keen for a REAL Dalat Canyoning experience rather than a gimmicky backpackers “lads on tour” trip surrounded by jocks who had no idea about this actual sport we are part of. So searching around we came across “Dalat Adventure Tours”. What stood out to us mostly was the fact that they take you to a a different canyon than every other company. Instead of queuing with hundreds of others on the same track, having an audience of raucous lads as you build up your courage and being rushed through we had the entire place to ourselves and came away with a much more authentic and adventure filled Dalat Canyoning experience as a result.
The most thorough safety briefing we’ve ever had!
Canyoning is inherently dangerous, it is an extreme sport made up of cliff jumping, abseiling, climbing, wild swimming and trekking. It takes you to the most remote, inaccessible and stunning areas of the world, but it is not to be taken lightly. Even with bags of experience ourselves you still often need a guide who knows the canyons well, which parts are too dangerous, where to set up the ropes, how to read the weather conditions and water level. All these require local knowledge and experience of the canyon itself in particular.
So when it comes to a safety briefing, no matter how many times we have abseiled ourselves we always make sure to pay attention. Each canyon is different and requires of you different skills and techniques, but this also makes it so much fun! Dalat Adventure Tours gave us one of the most in-depth inductions we could have hoped for, giving everyone practice with the ropes on some dirt banks and going through everything until even the most inexperienced was confidence. They also assess everyone’s level of ability and can tailor parts of the course, encouraging you to push yourself but at the same time recognising the limits of safety, making Dalat Canyoning something for everyone!
Diving straight in at the deep end: Abseiling 100ft into a torrent of a waterfall!
There was no messing about here with this Dalat Canyoning route, after a picturesque trek through the forest and after clambering up a steep rock bank clinging only to a rope we were thrown in at the deep end: Just how we like it! Instead of easing you in the guys here like to start with a heart racing 100ft abseil right into a powerful waterfall.
If you weren’t already awake then this would surely get your eyes wide open! Peering over the edge the angle is so sharp you can’t even see the bottom of the canyon, the overhanging cliff allows you to jump, mission impossible style, into the torrent of water as it batters you!
Trekking through the jungle and across the amazing canyons of Dalat
Another thing we really loved about this Dalat Canyoning tour was the trekking too, after the adrenaline boost of the first large abseil we were all in need of the peaceful trek through the forest. This route takes you along the steep banks of thick jungle, leaping across the rocks of the canyon in its shallower parts, wading through the water above knee high and even swimming in the refreshing water. It is in these parts where you can really take a step back and appreciate the stunning scenery this amazing adventure is taking place in!
Practising our jumping abseil skill on the dry rappel!
Another abseil was on the cards and after we had all dried off walking through the forest we were happy to find out it wasn’t down a waterfall this time! This gave even the most unconfident of the group to try out their jumping skills whilst abseiling, though Shorty was a bit over confident, jumped too high and slipped!! But of course, we were still safe and it was only his pride and maybe his elbow that was bruised!
Getting thrashed around in the “washing machine”
One of the most memorable and infamous sections of the Dalat Canyoning is the “Washing Machine”, named because of the waterfalls ferocious power that whips you up in the narrow canyon and spits you out at the other end. The 50ft abseil required more precision than the others, this time the space was much narrower and you had to squeeze through the tight but slippy wet rock.
Once inside the tiny opening the water roared off every surface, splashing with such power you were blinded and deafened at the same time! Eventually you had to let go of the rope around 10ft above the surface of the water, being dropped below the powerful cascade before fighting your way out of its powerful grasp! What an adventure Dalat Canyoning turned out to be!
Leap of faith, working up from 2m, 7m and finally 11m (36ft) into a narrow cavern!
Now came for my favourite parts of the Dalat Canyoning adventure: The jumps! We were able to build up and for those new to canyoning it really allowed everyone to experience this exciting element of the sport to the level they were comfortable with! We began with an entry level 2m / 6.ft jump into the chilly water to begin with, everyone taking their turn to make the jump.
Next up was a more tricky proposition, a 7m / 23ft leap out over a bulge in the rock from a specially built platform on the sloping cliff face. This required a little more power and push to make sure you clear the rock and make it into the turquoise lake below. Almost all of the group made this jump apart from 2 of the other girls!
Next up was the big one, the one I had been most excited for and also the most nervous, the 11m / 36ft leap into the narrow canyon opposite the washing machine abseil. As each of the group peered over the edge and thought better of the prospect I was psyching myself up. I knew I had to do it, that is why I had been so nervous in the days leading up to this trip. For me it was a case of do it or regret it for a long time, I know, I torture myself with these things but I know when I will regret not doing something…and this was it.
So there I was, heart racing, staring down into the impossibly high canyon, the walls seeming to close in on me. I had to do it now or I would be stood up here forever and talk myself out of it. Everyone else was standing there watching and wondering if I would have the courage. So, with a deep breath, I went for it and leapt into the water, falling for what felt like an eternity! But I did it, coming up to the surface beaming ear to ear! This is what Dalat Canyoning is all about!
Flying down the zipline 3 ways over the pure waters of this amazing region
Now after I have conquered my highest leap yet it was time for some more relaxed fun and to tackle the zipline…3 ways, each a little more extreme than the last! The first was a more casual affair, being attached at the front and running off the edge of the cliff before sliding into the water.
After this it was time for our superman impressions as the line was attached behind us, this required a little more balance and core strength… or you might end up upside down like some of the group!!
The last one was only for the brave and maybe a little stupid amongst the group, which of course was just us two! It involved holding on tight to some handlebars and running off the edge once again. This time it was essential you kept hold until you were clear of the rock face, and then when you did let go, well, lets just say your forward momentum didn’t stop until you hit the water face first at quite some speed!
Chilling out with a roadside picnic and a beer after a day of amazing adventure!
After all this excitement and adventure on the Dalat Canyoning trip we had built up quite an appetite! The guys at Dalat Adventure Tours set up an amazing picnic for us as we got dry and changed. Cracking open a celebratory beer we ate as much delicious cheese, bread, tofu, fresh mango, dragon fruit and pineapple as we could. Really one of the nicest meals we have had, sometimes, especially for us being vegetarian, the simplest things are the most satisfying!
Check out Dalat Adventure Tours here: How to do the Dalat Canyoning trip.
Cost of the tour is $30 each for the “Extreme Dalat Canyoning“, they also offer white water rafting, trekking, easy rider tours, mountain biking and a whole host of other adventure tours too! Thanks to Dragon and Cow for one of the most thrilling days ever!
Keep an eye out for a full video coming soon, here’s a little taster!
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Disclaimer: This post was in partnership with Dalat Adventure Tours, As always, all opinions are our own!