April 3, 2022

The Complete Guide to Waterfall Rappelling

by Bernice

Table of Contents

When you rappel, you don’t just get down from a climb. This unique activity can also take you to exciting places globally and sometimes where no one has ever gone.

What is waterfall rappelling? Waterfall rappelling is the process of lowering yourself through a waterfall while rappelling. Rappelling down waterfalls also provides an adrenaline rush that many people enjoy.

Waterfall rappelling activities can be experienced in places like Hawaii or Costa Rica. It is almost essential for a canyoneering trip. Waterfall rappelling is popular because it allows people to view waterfalls from a perspective that they would not be able to see otherwise. 

Waterfall rappelling can be a standalone experience or very often part of activities such as ziplining and canyoneering. We will dip you in the world of waterfall rappelling and all the things you need to know before going on a water rappel adventure.

What You Should Know about Waterfall Rappelling: the Complete Guide

You know by now what it means to rappel in or around waterfalls. But you can argue about what is the point of even trying it. In usual rappelling, we descend as a part of other activities, e.g., rappelling is an extension of caving or climbing. 

But, waterfall rappel is an activity in itself. Such activity can take an entire day and can create life-long memories. First of all, waterfall rappelling is much more difficult than usual rappelling. 

Mostly, you will be required to hike through some difficult, wet, and slippery terrains. For instance, you can appreciate nature at its best in the rain forests of Costa Rica on the way to waterfall rappelling.

Along the way, you might get several opportunities to climb, socialize, and scramble. You will see the terrain from different viewpoints: from the bottom or the top of it. You will also get to set up the rappel in a safe way.

Besides, you can combine waterfall rappel with other activities, such as cave rappelling, ziplining, and canyoneering, where you may get the opportunity to experience waterfall rappelling several times. 

Canyoneering involves weaving your way across the canyon’s length, crossing rivers, and lowering from cliffs to reach the bottom. At this point, you may ask me about the best places to do waterfall rappelling. 

After all, you will not need an exotic gateway to start a waterfall rappel. If you have got the proper gear, excellent anchors, and of course, a waterfall, you are good to go. 

Most Popular Waterfall Rappelling Destinations

What is the Difference Between Waterfall Rappelling and the other Rappelling Techniques?

Waterfall rappelling is a type of rappelling. Your generic rappelling skills will also be used for waterfall rappelling.

However, a waterfall rappel brings with it quite a few unique challenges. Before attempting waterfall rappelling, you have to be aware of these challenges and be familiar with emergency rappelling.

The first challenge is the water itself. However, it is quite evident that you will get wet during the waterfall rappelling. Wet is an understatement; you will be drenched to the extreme. Getting thoroughly wet is part of the fun, but water rappels bring the challenges listed below.

1) It gets cold during waterfall rappelling

Based on the environment, If you are drenched head to toe, it can pose serious health risks. It will not be an issue in the Caribbean waterfalls.

However, if you plan to do this activity in Jasper, Albert, the water will be just above the freezing point. In such a scenario, you will need proper clothing, suitable for waterfall rappelling.

2) The terrain leading to the waterfalls could be slippery 

Water makes the terrain challenging to navigate. In some cases, if you are lowered mid-air, it is not much of a problem.

But in other cases, you may be stepping on walls that are bound to be slippery and slimy. You will need suitable waterfall rappelling footwear with excellent traction. The proper footwear will prevent you from falling.

3) Rope control during waterfall rappelling could be challenging

It is generally tricky to hold on to wet ropes. Both the string and the palm of your brake hand will be soaked with water. Furthermore, freezing water can add to the difficulty of handling wet ropes during waterfall rappels. All this can slow down your drop.

You can use either a static rope or a dynamic one in dry conditions based on availability, however, the static rope is the best choice when rappelling. The elastic fibers of dynamic ropes can soak up water. The rope will become heavier and might get damaged.

It can lose almost 70% of its dynamic catching power when it is wet. Since you are making static movements, it is not much of a concern. But the rope life will get reduced as a long-term effect. We always recommend using the static rope for waterfall rappelling and any type of rappelling in general.

4) Prepare a specific belay device for waterfall rappelling

You will need a specific belay device for waterfall rappelling to help you with the smooth lowering. Belay devices like Black Diamond ATC are a good option.

Black Diamond Equipment - ATC - Black
172 Reviews
Black Diamond Equipment - ATC - Black
  • Unique, smooth-handling geometry
  • Minimalist design is durable in all conditions
  • Large surface area dissipates heat when lowering or rappelling

Last update on 2022-08-09 // Source: Amazon Affiliates

However, using canyoneering belay equipment can provide specific advantages in waterfall rappelling. Firstly, you will have a better grip to resolve the issue of wet hands. Secondly, you can usually adjust the friction levels. Canyoneering belaying devices can be handy while crossing over the cliff ledge.

Sterling ATS Device - Green
41 Reviews
Sterling ATS Device - Green
  • Weight: 3.5 oz
  • Length: 5 in.
  • Width: 2 in.

Last update on 2022-08-09 // Source: Amazon Affiliates

What to Wear for Waterfall Rappelling?

Like other activities, you will have to wear suitable gear and clothing for waterfall rappelling. We have already touched upon this topic above.

Let us get into a little more detail to explain the waterfall rappelling clothing you need to bring for the waterfall rappelling activity.

1) Waterfall Rappelling Clothing

You will need suitable clothing for waterfall rappelling according to the place of rappelling. If you are visiting Australia, you may wear t-shirts and shorts. However, in a cold place, you need to invest in a proper wetsuit. It will keep you warm.

Please ensure to keep your clothing comfortable. Also, it is better if the material is a quick-dry type because, in any case, you are going to get wet.

2) Waterfall Rappelling Footwear

Proper footwear for waterfall rappelling enables an excellent grip to increase your safety. Ensure to have ideal rubber soles irrespective of the terrain. You will be able to have better traction on rocky and slippery surfaces.

3) Waterfall Rappelling Gear

We have already covered two essential points above. Firstly, use static rope instead of dynamic ropes. Secondly, it is worth choosing a belay device designed for canyoneering environments to help you quickly go down.

It is not an all-inclusive list at all. The idea of telling these things was to provide you with a few necessary insights. You will be in a better position to choose what to bring for waterfall rappelling.

Finally, you can now imagine that waterfall rappel lets you get closer to nature to experience it differently. If it is done correctly, you will never forget such an exciting experience.

This is a list of the waterfall rappelling equipment you can carry with you.

Last update on 2022-08-09 // Source: Amazon Affiliates

General Guidelines before Attempting a Water Rappelling

The guidelines listed below will help keep you safe when you are attempting waterfall rappelling. 

  • You must wear grippy shoes. Wearing appropriate footwear will come in handy when treading slippery slopes.
  • Ensure that you use a wide stance to maintain proper balance.
  • When slowing your descent, you should place your hands on your hip area.
  • Ensure that your hips are at the same vertical height as your legs. You should also lean back as if you are leaning on the wall.
  • You should not try this exercise without professional guidance. 
  • Although this is a recreational sport, the exercise is quite strenuous. 

Now that you are familiar with the most important guidelines for waterfall rappelling, we can explore some exciting waterfall rappelling destinations in greater detail.

Which are the Best Places for Waterfall Rappelling?

Most people would prefer to go to warm and exotic places. You will enjoy the tour and make excellent memories. The areas that best fit this scenario are locations like Costa Rica, India, Kauai, Puerto Rico, Zion National Park, Maui, and the list of waterfall destinations explained in detail below.

They make for the best waterfall rappelling destination because they are warm as well as exotic. This is a list of the best places for waterfall rappelling and proper guidelines to keep you safe during the entire rappelling adventure.

1) Costa Rica Water Rappelling

Costa Rica is an excellent destination for waterfall rappelling. The country is known for water sports. Whether you are a thrill-seeker or a nature lover, you will always find something exciting in Costa Rica such as waterfall rappelling.

The Victoria Waterfall, in Guanacaste and the North Pacific, is a great water rappelling destination. You can enjoy riding on a horse for an hour before reaching the site. Rappelling on the rocky cliff is a breathtaking experience.

Alternatively, you could also try the Indian Falls and rappel on a 95-foot fall. There is also the Arenal and its canyons, which offer a 200-foot waterfall for rappelling. This will provide you with the adrenaline-pumping experience that you are looking for. 

2) Kundalika Waterfalls and Jogini Waterfall, India

India has superb rappelling destinations, so you might consider taking your journey there. There are plenty of waterfall rappelling places in India, but the most popular is the Kundalika Waterfalls and Jogini Waterfall. 

The Jogini Waterfall is easily accessible, and you also get to enjoy a picturesque ride through the pine forests and beautiful apple orchards. Located in Manali, Jogini is a magnificent sight to behold once you reach it. However, it is among the most challenging sites for rappelling in India. 

The Kundalika Waterfall provides a more forgiving experience. Standing at 150-feet, these falls are ideal for individuals who want to challenge themselves in a safer environment for rappelling. The Kundalika River is ideal for sports activities when it comes to river rafting.

3) Ripley Falls, New Hampshire, USA

New Hampshire is a splendid holiday destination for water rappelling in the US. The Ripley Falls in the Northeast Mountaineering offers a hiking trip and thrilling rappelling.

The surrounding sceneries boast of wide waterfalls standing at 150 feet in height. You should not be scared of this height as professionals will handle the tour. 

4) Santa Rosa Waterfall, Guatemala

The Republic of Guatemala in Central America relies heavily on tourism. There are various waterfalls in Guatemala that are popular with rappelling fanatics. One of these unique landmarks is the Santa Rosa Waterfall. 

Most waterfalls in Guatemala are tall and thin, but Santa Rosa is surrounded by plains and is also wide. There is also a natural pool down the fall to cool you off since temperatures are pretty high around Santa Rosa.

5) Avocat Waterfalls, Tobago and Trinidad

The Avocat Waterfall offers a spectacular waterfall rappelling opportunity that you cannot afford to miss out on. The tour is a fun hike that eventually leads you to the 72-foot tall waterfall. You can also swim in the natural pool down the falls.

For the hike, you should wear light long pants or short pants. You should also bring a swimming suit with you when you are visiting this site.

6) Canyoning in Almanchares cliff, Spain

One of the most amazing places to go rappelling is Almanchares Canyon, located in the Sierra Tejeda National Park of Spain.

This place has some of the most beautiful and tallest waterfalls that can provide you with a perfect place for rappelling. Most people, from all corners of the world, love to come here and enjoy rappelling here. 

The best part is the beautiful and astonishing backdrop, which can add fun to your overall experience. This place is full of great luxury hotels and beautiful resorts to make your stay super funny and exciting at the same time.

7) Maui Waterfalls, Hawaii

Like Europe, the USA is also quite ahead when hosting some of the best places for rappelling. One of the best and most exciting places to go for rappelling is Hawaii in the United States of America. This is the place for more advanced and experienced climbers.

If you are new to the idea of rappelling, it can be pretty tricky for you then as it has a lot of canyon rappelling. You can plan a proper and organized tour for having a super fun rappelling experience which is mainly supported by some professional rappelling guides.

Here, you will be able to choose one of the three different levels. These are 30-feet waterfall slope, 50-feet waterfall slope, or 60-feet slope for a practice run.

8) Tijuca National Park, Rio de Janeiro

Being located in Brazil’s South American country, Tijuca National Park is one of the best places for waterfall rappelling. This place looks scintillating, unique, and just 30 minutes away from the city center.

The Tijuca National Park is quite famous for its mountainous terrain and lush green forest. This can provide you with a beautiful and fantastic rappel experience. This can be a perfect place where you can enjoy a great vacation and continue your passion for adventure.

9) Vallee Bras-du-Nord, Quebec, Canada

Canada has some of the best and most exciting places for canyoning and water rappelling. One of the best places to do so is Vallee Bras-du-Nord which is located in Quebec of Canada. The exact spot of rappelling is located 37 miles to the north of Quebec City.

Here, you also have to hike for about 45 minutes through a lush forest towards the waterfall. You will surely love every bit of this journey. The cost of the entire tour per person, from hiking to rappelling, including all the essential equipment, is quite reasonable.

However, the challenges are too much, and you have to be well-prepared for them. We have prepared a guide to what you may need to start rappelling.

10) Tirol, Austria

How about enjoying an excellent canyoneering and waterfall rappelling experience with beautiful scenic beauty? Well, if you are a complete sucker for a beautiful backdrop and panoramic beauty, then this is the right place for you. 

The Tirol has some tremendous mountainous spots with fantastic rappelling opportunities. One of the best and most exciting areas for rappelling is Kronburg in Tirol of Austria. It is also, undoubtedly, an exceptionally difficult one.

Hence, this spot is perfect for experienced rappelling experts. It features a very narrow canyon with a length of about 40 meters and has many waterfalls.

What Is Canyoneering?

Canyoneering involves movements along the canyon’s top to the bottom. Along the way, you will experience activities like hiking, scrambling, swimming, and waterfall rappelling. Canyoneering is fast gaining popularity and offers an entire day full of unforgettable memories.

How does water pressure affect waterfall rappelling?

Water pressure affects waterfall rappelling because it could affect how fast you will descend when you are rappelling down a waterfall.

Water pressure is the force exerted by a column of water. It can be expressed in units of pounds per square inch (psi) or kilograms per square centimeter (kg/cm2).

Waterfall rappelling is a type of rappelling where the climber descends a vertical cliff or slope, usually with the use of an anchored rope to control speed. The climber will usually descend with two ropes at once, one for safety and one for the descent. Rappelling devices are used to control the descent speed and position.

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About the author 

Bernice

Bernice often jokes that she is better at climbing than walking. With avid parents of climbing, her first encounter with the high vertical rock walls was at the age of one. Her favorite style of climbing is bouldering.

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