Have you ever wanted to jump off of a perfectly good cliff? Have you ever been inclined to hurl yourself into the churning base of an 80 foot waterfall? Have you ever seen a ledge and thought, gosh, I really want to hold on to a rope and lean backwards into the abyss?
Well, I can’t say those exact thoughts were ever on my mind either, yet these are precisely the things I found myself doing in Dalat, Vietnam. Because I apparently seem to have a death wish.
Dalat is a medium sized town nestled in the mountains in the southern half of Vietnam. I went there for the express purpose of canyoning, based on some incredible pictures and stories I’d heard from other travelers. I didn’t know much of what to expect other than waterfalls! jumping! swimming! and other vague explanations that—misleadingly—make it sound totally fun and not scary at all.
The day began with a hike down a steep hill to the base of a cliff overlooking a river. Our guide strapped us into a harness and instructed us on how to rappel down the face of the cliff. One by one we watched as our group disappeared over the edge and we were left to wonder their survival rate. I, of course, was last, which you’d think was a good thing but in the movies something bad always seems to happen to the last person. Thankfully my life isn’t a movie. Yet.
After the first cliff, we spent the remainder of the morning alternating between hikes, sliding down through natural waterslides in the rocks, rappelling down the center of powerful waterfalls, and jumping off of (what seemed to me) absurdly high cliffs.
Though a little nerve wracking, none of them truly terrified me until the final waterfall, affectionately known as The Washing Machine. Without being able to see the waterfall, we were told to rappel down a cliff until just above the powerful rush of water; once we felt the water at our toes we had to simply let go of the rope and let ourselves be sucked into the waterfall and tumbled through its roiling waters—something you would really only expect to see in an Indiana Jones movie.
Once I came out of it and realized I was alive and fully in tact, the adrenaline rush was unlike any other. It felt amazing! Then it started to pour and we had to hike an hour up a steep hill in the rain. Can’t win ‘em all, I guess.
Overall it was a super cool experience and I recommend everyone give it a try. While it can be scary, you can also surprise yourself with what you’re capable of doing! I went with Highland Sport Travel and their guides were wonderful and the equipment seemed new and of good quality. I especially loved that they made sure to take a bunch of great pictures! All pictures in this post are courtesy of Highland Sport Travel.