Volcano Boarding In Nicaragua

By Laura Caldera
In World
Jul 10th, 2014


Nicaragua is a country that is rich with history and culture. Matched with it’s distinct flora and geography, one will find life blooming all around them. Despite being a third-world country, it has so much to offer to those who dare travel into its beautiful territory. You can visit one of its various islands, like Corn and Little Corn Islands, enjoy the beautiful beaches brimming with sea life, or tour around the cities that are bursting with culture. One of Nicaragua’s best tourist attractions, aside from their beaches, is their volcanoes. The plethora of volcanoes that are housed on Nicaraguan land gives tourists the unique choices of either swimming, gliding, hiking, or touring in some of the most beautiful landscapes above sea level.

Today I want to share with you the amazing adventure of going Volcano Boarding on Cerro Negro (Black Hill) volcano in León, Nicaragua.

Cerro Negro is one of Central America’s youngest volcanoes, clocking in at 161 years old. Since its birth around 1850 it has had 23 eruptions, with its last being in 1999. The volcano itself is about 500 meters high with a 41 degree slope, being Nicaragua’s steepest. It has no vegetation growing on it but that does not make it any less beautiful. Those who decide to venture to the top of Cerro Negro are presented with a wonderful 360 degree view of the land surrounding it. Cerro Negro is still active today, so if you plan to hike it in preparation to board down it’s slopes, remember to bring water so you don’t sizzle to death, and be sure to have a good pair of hiking boots to assure that your feet won’t suffer the consequences of rocks lodging in the crevices.

Volcano boarding was invented on the same mountain it is performed on today; by an Australian man by the name of Darryn Webb, in 2005 when he visited Cerro Negro. This thrill seeker tested picnic tables and even mattresses to see what suited boarding down the volcano until he found that a piece of plywood reinforced with metal was the best way to go. This fairly new sport has since then been tested out by over 25,000 brave hearts. Volcano boarding really is a very fun sport to participate in. You get the thrilling ride of a lifetime when you decide to make the trek all the way up the mountain and then down on the board they provide you (unless, of course, you brought you own). After hitting rock bottom, pun intended, you get the pleasure of walking all the way up again. While you walk up, you can look around you to see the beautiful and clear view that Cerro Negro offers you. At the top, not only do you get this 360 degree view of Nicaragua, but you also get to see the crater inside the volcano. The crater is not churning with burning hot lava, like one can see in the movies, but nonetheless it is quite an experience to see it.

Can you walk inside the harmless crater?

Yes, but mostly to test run your volcano boarding skills before taking on the mountain itself. It is strongly suggested by the employees there that you have some kind of experience with snowboarding or the like due to the dangers of volcano boarding, but you can still practice inside the volcano until you feel equipped to take on the mountain. Which is pretty awesome because how many people can say they volcano boarded inside the volcano?

The only danger you have to worry about if you do decide to take on the mountain are the tiny rocks flying at you as you descend. When you are heading down a 41 degree steep slope at 30-40 mph, something so small can be incredibly painful. These tiny rocks will cut into your clothes and skin if you decide to go at it without the protective gear. I’m a safety junkie when it comes to this because volcano boarding is certainly a unique sport. There is also a lot of friction going on when you are going down, so you have to make sure you keep a steady balance. This is why many volcano boarders have suggested you go down the slope sitting down on the board rather than standing up.

So how much does this all really cost?

Honestly, it should never surpass $30-40 per person. Darryn Webb’s hotel, Bigfoot is the original hotel in León, Nicaragua to provide volcano boarders with rooms for as low as $7-$8.50 for dorms, $20-$35 for private rooms, and volcano boarding equipment for $29 a person. Agencies like Tierra Tour also provide tourists with lodging and equipment for volcano boarding but they charge around $35 per person, depending on whether you are a couple or a group of 3 or more. Despite what the agency or hotel asks you to pay for equipment and rooming, you will always have to pay a $5 entrance fee to the mountain.

If you would like to know more about volcano boarding you can always contact the agencies I have mentioned above. If volcano boarding isn’t for you and you’re not sure if you’re ready for the adrenaline rush but you still want to visit Cerro Negro and climb it without having to board down the slope, then remember that there are also hiking tours that can be reserved.

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