Never one to shy away from an adrenaline rush, once the idea took root of shooting down the side of a volcano on essentially a wood sled there was no doubt I had to make this happen. Many travelers seem to make a stop in Leon, Nicaragua specifically for volcano boarding. The popularity has generated an abundance of tour operators trying to remain competitive. One of them has created a race out of it, rewarding the top speedsters with free mojitos. Supposedly if an injury occurs, they move you from the hostel to a resort to keep you quiet! Rather than find out if this claim was accurate or not, I went with an operator I felt solid about. The $35 tour included transportation out to Cerro Negro volcano where a guide led us up the well worn trail. We carried our own boards and a backpack with gear. The hike up was less than an hour and before sliding down, we were able to drop our gear and trek to the summit. Disturbing some volcanic scree, the earth beneath was hot to the touch and steam slowly escaped. From this point the view north of the Maribios volcanic chain was stunning. Our guide was a photog pro at jump shots and don’t doubt that I was pumped for this touristy photo.
Donned in a coverall, gloves and goggles (the buff was my touch) our group was ready to go (and looking outstanding I might add). The sitters went before the stand-up boarders. Sitting down is definitely faster than standing. Those that boarded conveyed that it was nothing like snowboarding, more like surfing if anything. On my run I gained plenty of speed down the volcanic scree to have an amusing time during the minute or so it took to get to the bottom. No injuries or even scratches to report! The radar-gun operator went after our group and I watched a guy fly off his board mid way down, tumble over over before coming to a stop with a bloody forehead (he was lucky). That group undoubtably got more of an adrenaline rush than I did. Then again, my forehead is in tact so I’m not sure a comparison should be made.
This was definitely a hilarious adventure and one I’d recommend. Beyond the 60 seconds or so of sledding down a volcano, the other hour of scenic hiking and staring into Cerro Negro’s steamy crater brought the value to this excursion.