The Most Scared I’ve Ever Been – Canyoning in Da Lat, Vietnam

“But people die canyoning!” Dad protested over the phone.

. . .

Perched way up in the central highlands, the town of Da Lat is a lovely little escape from the madness of Vietnam’s larger cities, and a welcome break from the heat and humidity of the south. The city is surrounded by dense green woodlands, and hosts a stunning view of mountains in every direction.

Canyoning (or abseiling, whatever you want to call it) is the big thing to do in Da Lat. With a bit of haggling, for $25 you can attempt to walk down a slippery waterfall protected by nothing but a stringy piece of rope and the all too relaxed grip of a cheerful little Vietnamese man.


Ever since I missed out at year eight camp, I’d always wanted to try abseiling. The possibility of it being a bit scary hadn’t even crossed my mind when I booked my tour, and on the morning of, I enthusiastically hopped in the Highland Holidays mini-van without even a flutter of nerves.

I’ve never considered myself a person who is afraid of heights, but as I stood at the top of the first course, an 18m waterfall, I was absolutely terrified.

“This can’t be right,” I say to the adventurous Dutch girl beside me, as I gaze down at the mess of sharp rocks below. “They can’t be serious. I can’t go down there!”

Oh dear.

"omg I have totally got dis"
“Omg please don’t let me die now. I haven’t been to South America yet.”

I actually managed to (almost) keep it together for that first descent. It was all good until I lost my footing and slammed into the hard wall of rock. Naturally, panic ensued.

“Give more rope, more rope!” my guide happily bellows down at me, without any trace of worry.

“But people die canyoning!” is all I can manage to shout back at him, repeating my Dad’s ever so encouraging words.

“No! No die! You fall into water!”

Oh dear.


It only got worse after that. There were five descents in the course, and I managed to complete a grand total of… two. I was so afraid of these stupid rocks and ropes and waterfalls that even on the descents that I scaled successfully, I was scared to the point where I wasn’t having any fun at all. All I could do was try to forget where I was, and just stay focused on not becoming paralysed with fear. Seriously! I don’t know what came over me! I (very embarrassingly) instantly burst into tears at the mere site of the 25m one! What the hell?!! Adventurous YOLO spirit where art thou?!?!


I’m not going to call this day a failure, because I at least got to see what canyoning was all about. I can now tell you for sure that you won’t catch me giving it another go. Noooo thank you.

They say you should do one thing every day that scares you though, so I think I’m covered for a fair while.

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