I’ve never been one for the traditional, I like to do things out of the ordinary, so when I had the opportunity to ride a board down the side of a volcano I jumped at the chance. Normal people go snowboarding, or even sandboarding, but how many people can say they’ve boarded down an active volcano.
First of all you have to hike your way up Cerro Negro with your boarding gear on your back, which is really quite heavy. By the time I had reached Nicaragua I had been backpacking for nearly six months, and moving around every few days with a 20kg bag on my back, so when I say it was heavy, I mean it. But there is something about hiking your way up to the top that makes it all that more special on your way down the other side.
Once you reach the top, there is time to take photos of this stunning volcano before you get your gear on and get ready to board down to the bottom. Before you make your way up Cerro Negro, you’re given the choice of a sit down or stand up board. Anyone with a sit down board has to go before those with a stand up board as they would reach the bottom much quicker.
Being the stubborn person that I am, I opted for the stand up board, which is really a lot more difficult than it sounds. Unlike traditional snowboarding it’s near impossible to turn once the gravel starts to get on your board and we were warned not to pick up to much speed, as that’s how you break bones volcano boarding. Getting going down the side of the volcano wasn’t the issue, it was the not picking up too much speed part that was hard, and every time I found myself going too fast, with no idea how to stop I ended up on my ass each and every time. And getting back up again with a board on your feet is really quite difficult. But I did, and then picked up too much speed, and then ended up back on my ass, again and again and again. But despite this, I had one of the most amazing times of my life and highly recommend you give volcano boarding a go.
Having not done the sit down board myself I can’t vouch for it, but everyone else that did, loved every minute of it, so my only suggestion is maybe don’t be stubborn and insist on using the stand up board, unless like me you love a challenge.
Volcan Cerro Negro or Black Hill Volcano, is located less than an hour’s drive from Leòn. Your hostel should be able to organise Volcano Boarding for you, otherwise it’s really simple to organise yourself online.