White water rafting in Dalat
I am petrified of heights.
I don't like the thought of standing on a precipice with a long drop and I certainly don't like the actuality of standing on the edge of a cliff followed by a heart stopping jump off it.
I do, however, enjoy adrenaline. And although, as many would think, the two, heights and adrenaline, go perfectly hand in hand. So faced with the dilemma of wanting the rush of an exciting morning of white water rafting, and the necessity of having to jump off a 12 metre waterfall - I chose to push past my fear of heights in favour of the adrenaline rush.
As soon as I became aware of Dalat, the adventure capital of Vietnam, I knew I had to go. We decided to make Dalat the last stop of our trip, to have a little craziness followed by relaxation in the Southern Highlands, before our return to South Korea.
There are a few different options for adventure sports in Dalat, including; white water rafting, canyoning, cycling and spelunking. The most popular is canyoning which includes repelling down a series of rock faces whilst being doused in water - not my idea of fun, like I said before, I hate heights and the thought of being tethered to a rope and scaling a slippery surface filled me with dread.
So we decided on white water rafting and a company called Phat Tyre Ventures, because of their awesome reviews, safety rating and professionalism. Dean and I have both rafted before, I cut my teeth on a grade 5 raft, including the worlds highest commercially rafted waterfall in the world on the mighty Kaituna, in Rotorua, New Zealand, so we wanted an exciting experience.
The rapids are generally grade 2 - 3 but owing to the wet season, and the recent 3 day downpour, the course had a new grading of 4, with some parts being 5.
The initial 30 minutes of the rafting was intense, with high grade rapids, fast turns and fast flowing water. After a little jump off a 6 metre waterfall we continued onto some lower grade rapids before coming face to face with the monster.
A 12 metre waterfall stood in front of me. The scariest part at this point was the speed with which the water was flowing over the craggy surface of rocks I had to pass in order to stand on a stable rock to jump into the water below. I grabbed onto tufts of grass as I made my way to the edge concerned that if I put one foot wrong I would fall over and swept over the edge to certain death, so dramatic!
Finally, I found myself standing on the edge surveying the water below, which now seemed to be 100 metres away. I was not sure if I could muster the courage to jump when the guide counted me down. It took two countdowns for me to push away from solid ground and hurl myself into the air, a sufficient distance away from the rocks in order to land safely into the water.
In the end what made my mind was the dangerous journey through that fast flowing water to reach the water below if I didn't jump. I told myself 'I came to raft, not hike' and I jumped, and it was fine. I am sure people who love jumping off things into water will love it. The only part of the jump I enjoyed was the adrenaline that followed.
The rest of the rafting journey was awesome, full of fast water, tight corners and extreme banking. I was starving by the time the 2 - 2.5 hour raft was complete. We were provided with a picnic lunch, which consisted of bread, fruit and some stuff to make sandwiches with, all in ample quantities. It was a great experience to sit down with the guides after the raft and debrief, their English is great!
Rafting in Dalat was exciting, it's a long raft and well worth the journey because you get to see many things along the way that you otherwise would not; fishermen going about their daily life, and life in the countryside.
The insanely tall and ridiculously fast flowing Elephant falls, standing at an impressive 30 metres tall, or more if the water is high, is part of the same Da Don river system. I couldn't help but think of the possibility of accidentally coming across this in a raft if you didn't know what you were doing. Obviously that would lead to a macerating death at the hands of pounding water upon immovable rock. Yeah, that got pretty dark. Sorry.
If you are interested in the raft and the waterfall jump, you crazy crazy person, check out PTV (Phat Tyre Ventures) here, I as impressed with their professionalism and their approach to safety. Despite everything I have written above I felt incredibly safe and well looked after.