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.
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.
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.
“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.
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.
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.
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.