Falling in Love with the Autumn Canyon Cruise

Written by Lindsey Cottle

Adventure Korea’s Autumn Canyon Cruise was a perfect weekend getaway from Seoul, and turned out to be the best Halloween celebration I’ve had in years. The drive to Pyeongchang was already scenic, as we were surrounded by stunning fall foliage on all sides. With many solo travelers, it was easy to make friends along the way!

We were a bit delayed due to traffic, so we were all excited to arrive at the Yellow Tree Cafe for lunch! I had a delicious latte and a butter and jam toasted sandwich, then napped in a cozy hammock among the vibrant Ginkgo trees with a full belly and happy heart. The golden leaves were floating down all around me and the dappled sunlight made the site feel like something out of a fairytale. Then we made our way to the boat departure point for our Donggang River cruise.

The Donggang River winds through the canyon lazily, occasionally interrupted by a few brief, thrilling rapids. Our boat was motorized, allowing us to relax during the 8 km ride, but we were allowed to help paddle at certain points… It was so fun, and I felt accomplished for having contributed to the paddling! And of course, the views left us speechless. With impressive rock walls on one side, gentle slopes covered with warm fall colors on the other, and an expansive clear blue sky above, we couldn’t have asked for a better experience (or better photos!). We felt very safe the entire time thanks to our awesome guides, and even got a few refreshing sprays of mountain water during the journey. Sadly, we couldn’t stay on the river forever, and soon had to say goodbye to the canyon and make our way to the accommodations.

Our comfortable rooms and a traditional dinner of Korean BBQ, local sides, and soju soon lifted our spirits. After the meal, we had some time to go buy drinks and snacks at a nearby convenience store. Then, while we all changed into our Halloween costumes, the Adventure Korea staff set up a bonfire outside the accommodation. We spent the next few hours listening to music, talking, dancing, and just generally enjoying our Halloween celebration! I didn’t think the night could get any better… And then Adventure Korea brought out the supplies for s’mores! Some of our fellow travelers had never eaten a s’more before, so we not only enjoyed the snack ourselves, but also reveled in their surprise at how yummy it was. The night ended with a friendly costume contest won by a little girl dressed as the Sanrio character Cinnamoroll… Cute!

After a good night’s sleep and a hearty breakfast, the group made our way across a majestic suspension bridge to a sunny, mountain-ringed field where we started our morning with a peaceful yoga session. Beautiful weather and the surrounding scenery were the perfect backdrop to an hour of deep stretching, self-empowerment, and restorative meditation. Some completed all the poses successfully and enjoyed challenging themselves, while others took the opportunity to find rest for their bodies and minds. No matter how you personalized the practice, everyone left feeling rejuvenated and ready for another exciting day!

Our next stop was the famous Baekryong Cave where we embarked on an underground adventure complete with caving suits, boots, helmets, and headlamps. Erosion of natural calcium deposits has created everchanging organic sculptures over the past 2 million years, and we were even lucky enough to spot some adorable bats fast asleep overhead! We learned all about the history and geology of the cave – and were even helped through a few crawl spaces in the rock – by our kind and knowledgeable guide. After a few group photos with the most impressive formations, we all sat and turned our lights off for a minute of total, pure darkness. It was ominous, but also somehow beautiful, and truly unlike anything I had experienced before.

After caving, we enjoyed a quick packed lunch and one last chance to soak in the scenery before our departure. As we were happily exhausted from the weekend, the long bus ride lulled most everyone to sleep, and we arrived in Seoul with plenty of good memories from the weekend to hold us over until next year’s Autumn Canyon Cruise!

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