Our DWS experience
A big thank you to Cat Ba Ventures for making deep water soling possible in Ha Long Bay. Having heard many tales of dubious tour operator in Cat Ba, we were surprise when every local we spoke to pointed us in one direction; Tung and Cat Ba Ventures. So we took the plunge and booked a three day excursion. Our crew not only had great knowledge of the climbing areas, tides and water depths but also an excellent chef, who bought fresh fish from fisherman on the bay as we sailed and prepared this for our meals. Taking on board our desire to climb the crew took us to areas of deep water and then left us to direct them to the line we wanted.
When in the late afternoon we asked for shade we were taken to a beautiful secluded beach. I can honesty say that I think there is no batter way to explore Ha Long Bay than on a small boat with local people. On return Cat Ba town we rested a few days then went out again, it was that good.
Graham Turner & Paul Belshaw – England
Our Ha Long Bay Climbing adventures.
We just got back into Hanoi after a few remarkable days in Cat Ba and Halong Bay. We met up with our friend Flint from Australia and cruised to the bus station early Saturday morning. We arrived just in time to catch the bus to Hai Phong, the third largest city in Vietnam and the main shipping port for this country. We got dropped off in some random place in Hai Phong and managed to find our way to the ferry terminal with a little help from our lonely planet and a smiley motorbike driver who really wanted us to ride on the back of his bike…he led the way and constantly pointed towards the terminal whenever we looked like we were going to change direction. We all thought he might want some $$ for his help, but he drove off into the city after we made it to the terminal and we never saw him again. The slow boat took 2 1/2 hours and we arrived at Cat Ba Adventures a little too late to take a boat out on the bay but Mr. Tung, the owner of the tour company who specializes in taking climbers to the good rock climbing areas (www.catbaventures.com), got us excited about the next two days of climbing in the bay. We handed over a million plus dongs for the trip and cruised out to the beach for some bouldering. We found some interesting limestone boulders and played for a little while before wandering on the scary rusting walkway over the bay. Back to our rooms after a not so satisfying meal (Flint and I are vegetarian which sometimes makes it tricky to eat out in this country) and early to bed.
Our boat crew were Chen, the captain and Lao, the cook. We were a little worried when we pulled away from Cat Ba without a little boat to get to the rocks with (trying to imagine getting onto the rocks from the big boat was a little disconcerting), but we stopped along the way and picked up our bamboo woven, tar covered, basket-like boat from a floating house boat in the bay. The guys dropped us off on an island to do a little sport climbing before taking us to the deep water soloing area (DWS). The first sport climb we got on was difficult but solid and interesting (not sure what grade it was) and Flint made it pretty far before the run-out factor was too high (like 15-20 feet till the next piece of protection, yikes!). We got back on the boat and had a delicious fresh fish, tofu and tomatoes, rice and cucumber salad lunch. We hopped into our little bamboo bathtub and were on the rocks in minutes. The tide was out, so the first few moves to get to the holds was on oyster shells…ouch! We all managed to get on the cliff unscathed a few times and had a blast dropping off into the warm water. One would climb while the others maneuvered the boat against the wind and the tide and the other took photos. We paddled into the cave we were climbing on; it was deep, dark and dripping wet but we saw some kayakers come out so we knew it lead to a secluded pool. Before we knew it, the sun was setting (it’s hard to tell because this is smog season and it appears foggy all the time) and we headed towards the village of Viet Hai where we spent the night. Apparently, it’s not safe to sleep on the little boats right now unless they are docked in the busy harbor where the police are hanging out because they’ve had some trouble with pirates, so we slept in this small and beautiful village set in a rice filled valley between huge limestone cliffs. We got motorbikes from the boat and I had an ear-to-ear grin as we flew through the darkness on hilly roads.
In the morning, Lao served us a delicious breakfast and we were off to the next DWS area. This time the tide was high and the cliff we played on had huge jugs to grab onto right out of the boat. As the tide went out, getting on the rock became more difficult but once on the rock, we could traverse, climb up, down and anywhere we liked…it was awesome! We used Flint’s kick-ass camera so you will have to check his web-site in a few weeks to see more photos from our adventures. After flopping into the boat, we would scope another place to get on and before we knew it, we were getting pumped, so we took a little break and the guys brought us to the next sport climbing area. We have no idea what the grades of the climbs were but this area had small spaces between the bolts so I was more eager to lead the 25 mt route. It was steep, juggy and fun! My type of climbing! We were all pretty shattered by the time lunch rolled around and once again, Lao whipped up another tofu and fresh fish meal for us. It was time to head back to Cat Ba because Flint is flying to Laos today and we are off to China to meet up with our buddy Andy (also from Australia), and it only took 4 1/2 hours to get back into the city. Hanoi is a very easy city to get around in because all the street corners have signs (I know that might sound strange, but we’ve been to lots of places where there aren’t any street markers) and I was pretty happy to be back.
Hank and Marla-USA
Our two days trip climbing & Kayaking in Ha Long Bay.
So I just got back from Cat Ba Ventures’ two day Deep Water Soloing trip and it was by FAR the best two days I’ve had in Southeast Asia! The trip was everything that Mr. Tung said it was going to be and more. I was a solo traveler and was approached by another couple who were looking for some people to get a tour together, and so we asked around for a minute and got a group of five together and booked the tour and set out the next morning. The trip started out with a great scenic ride on our way to the climbs through parts of the bay that were completely tourist free. We picked up some kayaks and went and anchored off while we were waiting for the tide to rise, and kayaked onto some remote beaches and bays and lied around for the afternoon resting up. Once the tide was high enough we got onto the wall and our guide just paddled us up to the wall for 4 hours while we climbed and fell into the water. It was SUCH a blast! We spent the night on a floating house in a beautiful bay without anyone else around. The cook made excellent food both days and there was always cold beer waiting in the cooler. The next morning we went and kayaked through some beautiful caves that dumped out into some gorgeous lagoons while we once again were waiting for the tide to rise. We climbed on two different walls that afternoon and finally had to give up because all of our fingers were completely raw. Like I said, this was the best two days of my trip and I would easily book another two days if I had the time! Don’t miss out on this adventure!
Source : Cat ba ventures