Boarding down Volcan Cerro Negro

We arrived in Leon, Nicaragua on Monday afternoon after a three hour chicken bus adventure. We got dropped off at our hostel, took some much needed showers, and then treated ourselves to a delicious meal at Patio El Padrino. It was some of the freshest tasting food I’ve had in awhile and the beers were ice cold. We walked around for a bit, through the Central Park, the main Cathedral and the local market before heading back to the hostel and calling it an early night. We needed a good night’s sleep because the next day we were going Volcano Boarding!

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Chicken bus riding on the way to Leon.

We got picked up at 8:00 in the morning by Tierra Tours and set out on the forty-five minute drive to Volcan Cerro Negro. It is the youngest volcano in Central America, having first appeared in April 1850. The name means ‘black hill.’ It makes sense because the volcano is covered in black, volcanic ash from it’s most recent eruption in 1999. It has erupted twenty-three times in it’s short existence.

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Cerro Negro [Black Hill]. This is the side that we slid down.

When we arrived at the base of the volcano, we were given bags with safety gear (goggles, gloves and a jumpsuit) as well the board we would slide down on. We carried the gear and equipment up 500 meters to the summit of the volcano. The hike took about an hour and it was rocky and difficult. We lucked out with a day that was overcast. The views while hiking up are incredible. The black ash of the volcano fades out into the lush green of the Nicaraguan countryside.

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We hiked up the more rounded side with wooden sleds laced through our packs.

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We got lucky [in my opinion] with an overcast day.

When we got to the top of the volcano, we set our gear down and walked uninhibited to the active crater of the volcano. You could feel the heat rising from the Earth. After exploring for a bit, we headed back to our gear and suited up and received directions on how to slide down the 40 degree side of the volcano. Looking over the edge, it seemed endless and I was a little nervous. Extreme sports are not my thing (most sports really aren’t my thing) but I had no choice. I wasn’t about to walk down.

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Cerro Negro has no trees or vegetation at the top so the vistas are expansive and beautiful.

It ended up being a lot easier and a lot less extreme than I thought it was going to be. I didn’t even fall off once. You control the direction and speed with your feet so it’s not very technical. I didn’t go as fast as other people but I enjoyed myself. The views at the top of the volcano were worth the hike and the slide down is just a fun extra, really.

After everyone in our group had made it safely down the guides passed out watermelon and bananas as a snack. Then they transported us into town for a free beer and some pizza, which tasted muy deliciosa after a strenuous morning. Volcano boarding was definitely the most “extreme” thing I’ve done in awhile. What’s the most extreme activity you’ve done traveling? Any suggestions for cool things to do around Nicaragua?

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