I do everything at 100mph, it takes a lot to actually stop me in my tracks and go ‘woah this is actually awesome’. Being the adventure/adrenaline traveller I am, believe it or not, I’m not always satisfied with just the ‘3D image’ of scenery. I sometimes need the 4D element to really appreciate it. I need to feel it, be part of it, truly experience it. Fresh water swimming makes a change from the burning salt water of the sea! Here are my 3 favourite waterfall swims.
Kosjak Waterfall – Slovenia
The Kosjak Waterfall in Slovenia feels like it’s come from some woodland fairy tale. It isn’t a million miles away from civilisation, it’s located on the edge of the Triglav National Park not far from the town of Kobarid. At the start of the hiking trail, there’s a car park and even a camp site. From there, you cross the bright blue Soca River over a rather long bridge. Although people that aren’t bridge fans, should be aware that not only is it long, it’s high up, VERY bouncy and only has cables as walls. If you’re not walking in time with the ‘bounce’ it feels like it might catapult you right over the edge! (I found it hilarious)
The 20 minute woodland trail is a fairly easy walk with only a bit of mud and tree roots to contend with…flip flops aren’t really suitable! As you near the falls, the footpath crosses back and forth over the stream using narrow planks of wood attached to little staircases made from rocks and stone which I found really cute and added to the adventure!
You hear the waterfall before you can see it. It’s in its own little cave/cavern. More stone steps and a board-walk clinging to the rock face (similar to those at the more touristy Vintgar Gorge, just outside Bled) lead to a viewing platform so the falls can be seen in all its glory! The drop is 15 metres high, the rock walls around it are even higher and the pool at the bottom is bright green! (See image above)
The day I visited, it was cold and rainy but it didn’t stop my tour group from wanting to swim and what a swim it was! I don’t think I’ve ever been so cold in my life (and I’m used to surfing in England!) I thought my arms and legs were going to drop off but I wouldn’t have changed it for the world! Someone in my tour group said they had recently had an Ice Bath in Turkey and the bath was warmer! The only real way to reach the pool, was upstream, scaling the rock face, it’s sharp and slippery but worth it! Word of warning though…our guides told us not to get too close to the waterfall, as the closer you get, the current gets stronger and can suck you under the water…needless to say, none of us got too close to find out how true this was!!
Dunn’s River Falls – Jamaica
Technically you don’t swim in Dunn’s River, it’s a waterfall climb! It’s very touristy and crowded but I found it fun! Located just outside of Ocho Rios, the 180 metre long waterfall runs down over a limestone rock formation, similar to a natural staircase! The climb starts from on the beach at the bottom…this waterfall actually ends up in the sea! Ugly water shoes are a must to improve grip during the climb. You follow a guide and while linking hands with complete strangers, zig zag up the falls, relying on the people in front of you to help drag you up the steeper sections! (Most of the people in my climb group were staying at my hotel and after this trip would speak to me whenever they saw me around…quite nice when you’re a solo traveller!)
The guides are very fun and cheeky and automatically film the climb (which can be bought at the end) which is SO embarrassing to watch back! They will take you to certain areas of the falls where you can slide down the rocks or encourage you to fall off backwards into the water! All these parts are optional and can be avoided if not confident with going underwater. As you reach the top you are greeted by this sign…mission complete!
The only negative, is that as part of a hotel excursion, there’s not much time to explore the rest of the area, you rock up, almost start the 1 hour 30 climb straight away and then when you finish, it’s pretty much time to get back onto the bus. I would have liked to have wandered back down to the beach to take some more photos and spend a little more time looking round the craft market…although the traders can be a bit pushy, you just have to politely say no and walk on.
Waihi (Waimea) Falls – Oahu, Hawaii
Back to the swimming falls! Waihi Falls is at the end of a 3/4 mile trail leading through the botanical gardens of Waimea Valley. I arrived quite late in the day so missed out on the cultural activities that were on offer during the day but it was nice not having many people around so the walk through the gardens was quite peaceful (and eucalyptus bark is so pretty! It’s rainbow coloured!)
The 45ft tall waterfall may not look that impressive compared to others, but the water in the pool at the bottom is surprisingly warm! The lake is watched over by a lifeguard and swimmers are expected to wear life jackets, even if you are a strong swimmer. The pool is 30ft deep, so the last thing you want is to get cramp and drown in something that deep!! It’s really relaxing to just float about in the water in the sunshine! There are rules on climbing the rocks and jumping in. However, they do allow you to climb onto the rock at the very bottom of the waterfall, stand under the spray and then jump in, with a big fat lifejacket on, it’s easier said than done, i’ve only got little arms! And here’s the proof…
Have you ever swum in a waterfall?