Cerro Negro (Black Hill), is one of Central America’s youngest volcanos located in Nicaragua. Over the years, this volcano has become a popular tourist destination for a couple of reasons. Once here, you will have the privilege of hiking to its peak, which is more than 2300 feet (78 meters) above sea level. But your journey also involves going back down at some point. And going down can always be done the traditional way or the more exhilarating, adrenaline-pumping way, which is volcano boarding!
So what is volcano boarding? It basically refers to an exciting ride that brings you down the slope of the volcano at a fast speed. To achieve this, you will need a relatively large piece of wood that will act as your board. How do you go about volcano boarding? First, you will need to engage one of the several organized tour companies that conduct volcano boarding at Cerro Negro area.
Next, you will need to trek to the top of the volcano which takes about one hour. From here, you can enjoy amazing view of the volcanic landscape. Then, with your wooden board, your guide will bring you over to a specific spot to slide down. And finally, you will need to get on that board and go down Cerro Negro’s slope, which is made up of small grains of volcanic rock over which you glide at a speed of 30 mph! Although the acceleration only takes a couple of minutes, volcano boarding is definitely an unforgettable and adventurous experience. This is the reason this activity is so popular among visitors and especially to backpackers.
There are two methods of riding the board. The first one is the safer one, which involves sitting down on the wooden plank as you would on a sled or toboggan. The second one is the more daring one, as it involves standing up similar to a riding a snowboard. The snowboard position proves to be slower and makes it more difficult for you to turn in different directions. What is guaranteed is that you will get more speed when sitting down as the center of gravity is lower. But don’t expect volcano boarding to be as smooth snowboarding as snowflakes are more slippery than volcanic rocks, which create more friction with the board.
The volcano boards are usually equipped with a rope, which your hands can hold for stability. And when you lean back and pull this rope, it will allow you to get maximum speed. Safety of course is a huge priority while doing this fun activity. Make sure to choose a tour operator that offers you the right equipment such as one-piece protective suit, goggles and leather gloves. Volcano boarding is of course not for everyone, and is ideal for physically fit people who have a good sense of balance. There’s always the risk of crashing into the sharp volcanic rocks, so make sure you have travel health insurance before attempting this challenging activity and that it covers you for adventures like this.
After this crazy experience, why not cool down and try one of those Volcano Burritos, which were cooked inside the volcano, making it a little more special than your regular burrito. And if you want a reminder of your volcano boarding experience, grab one of those “I went volcano boarding” t-shirts! The gateway to Cerro Negro is the city of Leon. From here, you can easily book a volcano tour from a travel agency or tour operator.