You’ve arrived in Nicaragua and let’s face it, there is one thing that you want to do – volcano boarding in León! Here is the lowdown and tips to help make the most of your rapid, heart racing, ride.
Fancy hiking up an active volcano?
What about boarding down one?
Well you can, welcome to volcano boarding in León,
Volcano Boarding Companies in Leon
First thing first, you need to choose a reputable company. There are over seven volcano boarding companies in León, choose wisely.
- Ensure that the company offers quality gear such as a jumpsuit, goggles, gloves, and a board. Be sure to take a bandana to cover your mouth and nose, volcanic dust is effectively small shards of glass! The board itself is like a sledge used for well, sledging in the snow, but this board is going to help you reach speeds of 55mph (if you want it to). I’d expect the chosen company to provide a bag for all of this gear which you can slip your board into the back of, you don’t want to hike carrying it by hand
- The company should offer transport to and from the volcano, Cerro Negro. We always try to select a native company and an English speaking local guide. Many of the eight companies don’t actually offer an actual guide (instead, sending whoever is volunteering at the hostel), but it’s down to personal choice
- Small groups would be wise, safety first! The larger the group, the less chance the leader is watching out for your safety. Screw getting burns from that volcano ash!
- Photographs, do they take photos while you board? They should do!
- Avoid snowboarding, it is impossible. We watched a guy attempt this and after ten minutes and double-figure falls, we were bored and walked away. We heard the same story from countless other groups. Don’t try and be cool, just enjoy the rush of the volcano boarding!
Volcano Boarding Equipment
- A jumpsuit
- Nifty bag to carry above in
- A volcano board (which you place through bag while hiking)
Leon to Cerro Negro
After a short ride (one hour) out of the city of León through the farms which produce potatoes, te de jamaica, peanuts, and sugar canes, you will arrive at Cerro Negro. The roads are pretty bumpy, you can make your own way there and hire boards at the entrance apparently but I wouldn’t put a hire car (or your bank balance!) through that punishment.
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Hiking Cerro Negro
Next ,you will sign up at the registry office, you can use the toilets and buy some snacks, water, and juice too.
Naturally to board down the volcano you need to get up there so it’s hike time. Make sure you have plenty of water for the easy to medium one hour hike ahead. The views are spectacular, especially the contrasting green vegetation and black ash rocks.
Don’t worry, you are not expected to wear the gear whilst hiking Central America’s youngest volcano!
During the hike, you’ll get to see the effects of the last eruption in 1999 (1995 before that, 1992 before that, etc). It’s also cool to think that you are in the Ring of Fire!
Volcano Boarding in León
Then it’s butterflies in the your belly time! Get kitted up and ready for the ride. Your company should inform you of the following to ensure volcano boarding safety
- Sit at the back of the board with your weight evenly distributed
- Hold on to the rope with both hands (GoProers, don’t let go = fall!)
- Need for speed? Lie back, feel your core muscles work to prevent horizontal lying
- Want to slow down? Sit up straight and dig your heels into the ash rock
- Going to fall? Fall backwards, away from the board
- Do expect ash rock, everywhere (in my teeth!)
I was going faster than Craig at the beginning…claims he waited behind to get a shot of me on the action cam. Judge for yourself on the video.
Then he took over, naturally! Estimated speed 55mph, some companies will test your speed and put you up against each other if that’s your bag!
On the Big Screen!
Volcano Boarding – What to Wear
- Hiking boots / trainers (ones with good soles!)
- Bandana to cover face
- Lots of suntan lotion
Volcano Boarding – What to Pack
- Water, one litre per person
- A snack
Three weeks later Cerro Negro was closed to volcano boarding in Leon due to the adjacent volcano waking from its 100 year sleep. It apparently ejected rocks and ash 7000ft into the sky! Pretty exciting eh?…but kind of glad we missed it!