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Volcano Boarding in León – Travel Video Ep. 15

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Take a wild volcano boarding ride through an HD adventure travel video from 2 Backpackers, Jason and Aracely Castellani, while visiting León, Nicaragua.  In travel video episode #15, we put our adventure face on and surf down the black gravel rocks of Cerro Negro, maybe not the best idea. Enjoy the show!

After crossing 2 borders to get across Honduras, we entered Nicaragua for the first time and traveled to the city of León, Nicaragua. There is a lot of outdoor adventure to be had in León, especially the adrenaline rush of volcano boarding down Cerro Negro, the black volcanic hill. You can book this adventure tour through 2 outfits in town: Bigfoot Hostel and Quetzaltrekkers.

A Volcano Boarding Race

It had been a long travel day for us; we spent 9 hours on the road on six different buses and crossed two land borders.  Jason and I were relaxing over drinks at Big Foot Hostel Bar in León, Nicaragua when we noticed a sign that read, “Volcano Boarding Top Speeds.”  It had two lists of names.  One list of females and the other for men.  Each list had a speed associated with the name.  We asked our friendly bar tender and hostel attendant, Alberto, “What’s Volcano Boarding?”  He smiled and pointed to some pictures on the wall of people wearing orange jumpsuits, goggles and each were holding what looked like laminated wooden boards.  “Why don’t you guys sign up and find out,” he said, “You’ll love it.”  So we did.

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Volcano Boarding on Cerro Negro with Bigfoot Hostel

For $25 per person Big Foot Hostel offers Volcano Boarding trips any day of the week when they can get enough people to sign up.  The group got picked up at 9:00am in the morning and everyone piled into the back of a pickup truck for a bumpy 45 minute ride to the base of Volcano Cerro Negro.  Along the drive we passed several settlements and waved to the workers leading their cattle to the farms.

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Climbing Volcano Cerro Negro

We arrived to a small ranch styled building where each person paid another $100 Cordobas or $5 US dollars entrance fee to the volcano park.  Everyone was then handed an orange bag and a wooden board with a laminated piece on the bottom for speed.  The board was large and a bit awkward to carry so I gave mine to Jason and I offered to carry his light orange bag and our daypack.  Our guide, Danny from England, led us up a rocky path to the top of the volcano’s crater.  As we walked he educated us on Cerro Negro and about Nicaragua’s volcanic chain which we could see in the distance.  Once we reached the top, he instructed us to put on the jumpsuits and goggles.  After taking some group pictures in our silly outfits, he gathered us around for further instructions on how to make it down the mountain fast or safely.

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Crater of Volcano Cerro Negro

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Jason Surfing in the Wind

“There are two sections to this slope,” he began.  “You will start off at a slower speed and then half way down you hit a 45 degree angle where you will pick up a lot of speed.  You won’t see it approaching, but you will feel it.  To keep from being thrown off your board, you must keep it straight by taping your heels on the gravel one at a time.  Once you hit the 45 degree angle, if you want to go for gold, just hold your legs up and hope for the best. If you want to slow down, continue to tap your heels on the ground in an alternating rhythm.”  He also reminded us the top speeds were around 75km/h for females and 85km/h for males.  We were all a bit nervous, some more than others.  In groups of two we began to volcano board down the black volcanic gravel.

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Amy, a traveler from New Zealand, and I were ready to go.  My heart was racing.  When I heard Danny say, “Go!”  I gave myself a push by forcing my body forward and I began to tap my heels: left right, left right, left right.  Tiny bits of rock were pelting my face.  The sound of the board sliding against the gravel increased as I gained speed and descended further down the desolate volcano.  The board began to turn and gravel started to burry it.  I tried to remember Danny’s instructions and lifted one leg up to straighten my board, but there was no fixing it; I flew off.

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Aracely in Her Big Orange Jumpsuit

I can’t really describe what happened, I was completely disoriented.  I told myself, “Look for the board, get back on and keep moving.”  Once I found it I mounted the wooden plank and continued to slide down the volcano: left right, left right, left right. I felt myself picking up speed again.  I picked up my feet and began to feel the tiny rocks hitting my face quicker this time; my heart was racing even faster.  Again, gravel took over and pushed me sideways and off again I went!  This time I hit the ground a bit harder.  Completely disoriented I looked for my board and mounted it once again.  I made it all the way down the volcano.  I picked myself up and took a look around; I began to feel a sting on my leg.  I looked down and saw I had a descent size bloody scrape with gravel still in it.  I ignored it and began to watch the others fly down the mountain.  Amy had not made it down yet.  I could see her still on the slope trying to make her way to the bottom.  Two by two, the groups began to descend.  I watched everyone flip, tumble and crash.  Everyone had either scratches or bruises when they made it to the bottom, except for the super flier, Andreas from Germany.  He was 1km/h shy of making the fastest male list.

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Our Volcano Boarding Crew

A second tour operator stood at the bottom of the volcano operating a speed gun.  Everyone was eager to find out their speed.  My speed was 36km/h, the fastest girl of the day by a long shot and the girl with the biggest scrape too.  Still, I felt a little proud of that.

Volcano boarding is probably not for everyone, but it is definitely an adrenaline rush.  If you decide to go boarding down Cerro Negro, remember that not everyone enjoys it and you will end up with some scrapes and burns to show for it.  Regardless, you’ll have an exciting story to tell.

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Cole says:

What a crazy “sport”. Would love to give it a go!

Crazy and a bit dangerous. I guess better suits that the gravel won’t tear through would take some of the danger away, but possibly the excitement too. I was terrible at keeping my own balance on the board.

Great write up & video!

I did this as well (a few times), and crashed pretty hard. My whole head was cut up. I looked like a movie monster covered in ash & blood! 🙂

Yup, and we picked rocks out of our hair for a few days too.

Brendan Kane says:

Yo, you two! I did the volcano boarding in Leon as well. I went thru another company and I did it standing up! What a rush! Hope you guys are doing well! Hola from Bucamaranga, Colombia!

Hey Brendan! Standing up? That sounds crazy!

In Colombia now huh? That was one of our favorite countries to visit. Camped out in Tayrona and spotted a few monkeys early morning. Missed out on the Lost City trek, only big regret. How many months left of your travels?

Jade says:

I loved this video!

Thanks Jade, we have a few more release from Nicaragua, but this one is the most exciting.

Sonya says:

Volcano travel is so awesome. I haven’t tried volcano boarding but now I really want to!

Great video! I’m all for trying new things, but this is not something that looks appealing to me. I think I’ll stick to sandboarding since it’s much softer.

Jason says:

I haven’t tried sandboarding yet, but I have seen people do it. I suck at snowboarding, so I figured I would be bad at it.

Claire says:

Headed to Nicaragua next month and I don’t think I will try this. I am not very coordinated when it comes to these things. I had enough trouble dismounting a volcano in Guatemala just with my own two feet! Looks like you guys had a blast though. Orange is def your color.

Jason says:

Believe me Claire, this is definitely something I don’t run around telling everybody to do. It’s cool to have said, “I did that.” And it’s also cool for the video. But, besides that, I don’t think it’s something I would prefer to do. I am hoping they improve the boards / sleds to make it a bit safer, but I guess that would take away from much of the danger. We also hiked Cerro Negro on another day as part of a 2-day trek to Volcano El Hoyo with Quetzaltrekkers. It’s an easy trek up and there are some incredible views. So, maybe you don’t ride down, but I would definitely consider a day-hike up the volcano on a clear day. Have a great time in Nicaragua!

Claire says:

Awesome, and thanks for the info! I am always excited about incredible views that are somewhat easily accessible 😉 I will def check Cerro Negro out before I go.

Claire says:

Just letting you guys know that your site was the first place I had heard of volcano boarding and was intrigued, if not terrified. So I did it a few weeks ago on Cerro Negro! I wrote a post on it, but it was not as happy as yours 🙂 I was too scared! I did it, but at a snail’s pace.

That’s awesome Claire. I am going to read it now. I don’t blame you if you didn’t go fast, it’s crazy and dangerous. I had heard the boards got better, but I had seen some pretty nasty scrapes on people, even on one guy’s face that crashed rolling forward on his face. Not good.

This was awesome enough that I wanted to share the video in my Video Friday post.

I so want to do this!

Jason says:

Jack, thanks so much for sharing!

Brilliantly produced vid. Not sure I would do the volcano boarding… Love the speed, but not the loss of skin.

Jason says:

You and I both. I wouldn’t do it again. Even though we didn’t suffer the burns some of the others did, the risk is just too high.

megan says:

Looks crazy! I’m such a wimp, I don’t think I could do it…!! Loved the video.

Jason says:

Thanks Megan. Its not for everyone, but it does make an awesome video.

Anita says:

I’d heard of Sand boarding, but volcano boarding?

Wow- looks like you had a lot of fun… love your travel videos keep up the good work!

Jason says:

Thanks for watching Anita.

Abby says:

I had no idea you could even do that!! What will you come up with next?

Jason says:

I think tour agencies know that us visitors are willing to try anything we can’t do in our own home countries.

This looks fun. And scary.

Jason says:

Exactly. This looks fun, but IS scary.

DORIAN ZULETA says:

HOLY COW!!!!! ” I tried to remember Danny’s instructions and lifted one leg up to straighten my board, but there was no fixing it; I flew off.”..

Did it hurt falling off your board and hitting the gravel??

I have never ever heard of freakin volcano boarding.. How cool was it that you guys just came across such a crazy recreational activity..

-dafunny1-

Aracely says:

It hurt once I was at the bottom. While you’re on the hill all I focused on was getting down safely. The gravel is not forgiving, if you touch it, you are getting scraped and rocks will dig themselves into your skin. I still have tiny scars on my leg from this. I do think that they should have warned us a little more. If you volcano board, you will get hurt. Everyone did, some more than others.

DORIAN ZULETA says:

Aracely,

Wait, you’re saying that there is a great chance of someone getting hurt?? I think you guys might have found the next X GAMES event!!!

I can only imagine how painful it must have been…. I still don’t know how you got scratched, that overall looks like it’s bullet proof..lol

-dafunny1-

Randy says:

Love the video! That is pretty awesome! I’ve wanted to do this for a while. This is by far the most in depth account though I’ve seen. Nice work! And congrats on getting the highest speed of the day.

Jason says:

Thanks Randy, this is probably my new favorite video. It was a lot of editing to make it exciting. I have to admit though, the fastest run goes to Andreas from Germany. I didn’t do so well. 🙂

Leigh says:

Sounds wild but fun. It’s amazing what adventures people dream up.

DORIAN ZULETA says:

It’s a “bucket list” item..lol

Jason says:

I know, it’s sort of scary right?

Wow, very cool. I so want to go Volcano boarding!

Dave and Deb says:

This sounds amazing. I would love to know what it is like to hit 85km/hr! Probably have a little more than “volcano rash”. We will definitely add this one to the list of adventures!

Jason says:

It’s one of those “do once” type of things. The risk is pretty darn high to get some major burns. I didn’t get major burns because I kept falling off. the first fall was rough. Board went sideways and I went head over feet into the gravel at about 40km per hour and that was enough for me. I hurt and I was about 20 feet from my board. If they improve the boards, it could get really wild and fun.

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