Canyoning is the term used for traveling through a canyon. But, this sounds much easier than it is because in the canyon you have to navigate rough, and steep, terrain that may require you to climb, swim, jump, or repel over several meters. To make things a little worse is the fact that I have a mild fear of heights, so jumping of a 20-meter cliff face isn’t a normal thing that I would do. However, I wanted to out grow my fears and do something adventurous and different during my stay in Vietnam.
I was nervous when they picked me up from my hotel and drove me, and a group of my friends, to a spot, seemingly in the middle of nowhere, off the side of the road. To ease my worries, the tour group we used showed our group the quality of the equipment we were using to traverse the canyon. After a demonstration and a quick practice session we were ready to try the real thing.
Our first challenge was to repel down a 15-metre cliff, which was much steeper than our two-meter practice hill. Since heights make me nervous, I thought it would be best for me to go first in my group. That way, if anyone slipped or did something scary I wouldn’t lose my nerve! Being the first cliff I had ever repelled down, I took my time but I reached the bottom safely! It wasn’t even that hard because although I was high on the cliff, with nothing below me but the ground, I didn’t really have to look down! I just focused on the wall and walked myself down!
After the first wall, we headed to the biggest challenge of the day, a 25-metre waterfall that we were to repel down. The challenge, besides the height, is that the rock is slippery from the water, making it difficult to gain a foothold. Although you are tied to the rock above, preventing you from falling to the ground, losing your footing on the face of a cliff is a frightening thing! Plus, you can still get injured when you slam into the side of the cliff. Again I went first, and I was the first of the day to slip and hit the wall! It didn’t hurt too badly though, and again I made it to the bottom alive!
Once we all made it down the waterfall we hiked along the river until we reached a ledge where we were to jump into the water below. It was over 13 meters high! Making myself jump was definitely the most difficult part of the journey. My guide and my friends counted down from five and I jumped! If I had hesitated for even a second I think I would have stopped myself. It was exhilarating falling so far into the water below.
At this point I felt my fear evaporating, and I was becoming much more comfortable, and safe, with the climbing gear we were using. On our final repel, at a place nicknamed the Washing Machine, I was feeling very brave! So brave that when I made it down the first time I climbed back up to do it again, and this time I got to go upside down!
This was by far the most exciting thing I had done in Vietnam. Not only did I beat my fear, I also got to see experience some of Vietnam’s natural beauty first hand! I’m now more courageous than ever before and I can’t wait until my next adventure in Vietnam!