If you are planning to travel to Vietnam, you have to make it to Da Lat, to go canyoning with Viet Challenge Tours. I’d heard it was a cool experience, but nothing prepared me for just how good it was!
We were collected from the hostel at around 9am, and set off for a ten minute drive down the road. We were introduced by Alex, our main guide, to the rest of our team. The other instructors were Dom, and Cacoon. They got us equipped, in wetsuits, helmets, life jackets, and harnesses. Once set, the abseiling practice began.
We learnt how to lean back, low in a squat, so you have plenty of control over your movements. Starting with a walk, then a run, then a jump down the hill. Passing the test, we set off for the real deal!
Walking down through the park, I admired the forest rollercoaster that seemed to go on forever. You control your own cart, and it was cool watching people zip through the trees. Crossing a few bridges, we made it to our first challenge.
Clambering over the fence designed to keep the tourists out, we were attached to the ropes, and then abseiled down a rock face, next to a waterfall. The rock gets more vertical as you descend, and I managed a few jumps, as instructed by Alex’s shouts. The final test was to lean back, and let go of all the ropes, falling backwards into the pool at the bottom! After the hike, the water felt so good.
Walking through the forest, we saw dragonflies in so many incredible colours, iridescent greens and blues. We had a river crossing, aided by a rope across the river. This came in handy, as the current was strong, and I slipped a few times!
Our next stop was another rock face. Alex instructed us that there was to be no falling at the bottom this time, as the water was shallow. He also said we needed to stand up and stay up in the water, or we would be carried off to Saigon. Noted.
Confident from my first abseil, I bounced my way down the rock easily. The real challenge came in standing up at the bottom! I got hold of the rope, and made my way across the river. The others waiting told me to hold on tight, and they weren’t kidding. The bottom was slippery! I nearly got a free trip to Saigon.
Further downstream, we got in the river, and floated along, feet bobbing out of the water. Climbing over a tree, I got carried along, and Alex was yelling “one at a time!” I wasn’t sure one at a time for what, and he grabbed my life jacket, as I was next to another girl. We had arrived at the rock water slide without realising. He helped me get set, and then down I slid! It was fun until I hit the bottom, when it took a second to right myself. It was so good I did it twice more, backwards!
Reaching the cliff jumps, I was keen to do the eleven metre one, but wasn’t sure how confident I was that I could clear the rocks jutting out below. I settled for the seven metre jump, and managed that fine. I climbed back up, and figured why not. So I ran off the cliff with all I could manage, and jumped perfectly!
We stopped for lunch, which was amazing. The guides had set up a picnic, and we made our own Banh mi, which were so delicious. They also had plenty of fresh fruit; juicy mango, bananas, pineapple, and watermelon.
Content, and so grateful for the lifejacket after a big meal, we reached our final challenge: the washing machine! We had to abseil down into a waterfall, lower ourselves into it, and then trust we would pop back up. Alex warned us that once we were in the waterfall, the force of the water would be strong, but to keep lowering yourself in.
I went first, and once I began to step backwards off the cliff, I saw how strong the waterfall was, and began to question my judgement! Alex wasn’t wrong, the second the water hit me, it was like a high pressure hose. I let myself down quickly, and then the rope ended! Letting go, I tumbled into the water. Backwards and upside down, I surfaced, and was rescued by Dom, who pulled me out of the water. The challenge definitely earned its name! It was terrifying but invigorating, I would have done it again if we could!
We trekked back to the van, through forest, and then fields. Extremely happy, we pulled off our wet gear, and piled back into the van. Alex passed around his phone to get our details, and promised us the photos would be on Facebook in a few hours, and we would have the good quality ones emailed that evening. Talk about service!
I had the best time canyoning with Viet Challenge Tours. I wasn’t sure what to expect, but they exceeded all expectations. Our guides were so much fun, and really helpful. If your inner adrenaline junkie is screaming to be let out, this is the place to do it! Plenty of the hostels will book the tour for you. We stayed at Da Lat Family hostel, and they offer canyoning with Viet Challenge Tours. You even get a free tshirt! If you’re in doubt, you can email them to get it booked in. Whatever you do, don’t miss out!