Boarding down an Active Volcano? Hell Yeah!

Volcano boarding in Leon Nicaragua
The Cerro Negro Volcano in Nicaragua

When I fist arrived to the Cerro Negro volcano in Nicaragua, little did I know that I would end up falling four times while trying to do some volcano boarding. The best part? I absolutely loved every second of it!

Don’t know what volcano boarding is? To put it bluntly: It is one of the most awesome extreme adventures ever. If you’re ever in Nicaragua, a good day of volcano boarding is definitely a must. Here’s a run-down of how to make it happen. Can I get a hell yeah?

Understanding Volcano Boarding

Volcano boarding is a relatively new thrill-seeking activity that started a couple of decades ago and it has been ranked by CNN as the second most fun but terrifying activity (number 1 is becoming a jet fighter pilot for a day!). In Nicaragua, the best place to do it is at the Cerro Negro (Black Hill) volcano, located mere minutes away from the city of Leon.

There are quite a few non-profit organizations in Leon that make the Volcano Boarding tour, this time I went with Quetzaltrekkers since they leave one hour earlier than the rest of the companies AND also offer you the chance of attempting to do the volcano boarding twice after your first attempt. For 30 USD you get a t-shirt, lunch, transportation and entrance fee to the volcano. All profits are donated to local charities in Leon.

I first heard about volcano boarding thanks to a Mexican friend who did it a few years ago and according to her, it totally changed her life.

Sure, to this day I cannot understand how sliding down an active volcano at insane speeds can make you a better person but I definitely agree that the near-death experience at the bottom sure leaves you thinking about what have you been doing with your life.

I have to admit that before this year I wasn’t a really adventurous person. I prefered city breaks over hiking mountains and party hostels over camping in the wilderness. This last couple of months have really changed my travel styles as I push myself to new things that I haven’t tried before.

So come on, OF COURSE I had to try volcano boarding even though I had no experience whatsoever in hiking, boarding or just extreme sports in general. Yes, as you can see in my photo, I wore a dress shirt and a pair of white trousers.

That was mistake number 1.

Hiking Cerro Negro for Volcano Boarding

The hike up to the top of the volcano was significantly hard for me and I sincerely apologize for dragging the group behind because of my fascination with taking selfies all the way to the top. I meant it when I said that the art of taking selfies is a real one! The hike is a very steep one and it should take you about one hour to reach the volcano boarding area.

And yes, you’ll have to carry a slightly heavy metal board all the way to the top.I seriously wonder how come business-savvy people haven’t started to actually rent them at the top instead of doing so at the bottom.

You’ll also have to carry a backpack with your gear. I’ll be lying if I said that my outfit didn’t remind me of Walter White in Breaking Bad. For a moment I truly believed that we were about to cook meth at the top of the volcano!

As the guide explained, the process is a very straight-forward one. You have to sit at the back of the board, slide yourself down a little bit and use both of your legs AND hands in order to balance your weight. “Is it alright if I use my left hand to film my way down with my camera?” I asked.

“No, people have broken their arms and wrists while down volcano boarding thanks to reckless behavior” the guide said. One of the other members of the tour then talked about a guy she met in Granada that had permanent scars on his face thanks to falling from his boards and getting scratched by the volcanic rocks.

Of course, I’m sort of a travel lunatic so I decided that it was worth risking it in order to get the perfect GoPro footage.

That was mistake number 2.

“Remember to place your legs in the back for slow speed and at the front for high-speed” the guide said before climbing down in order to signal us with the flag whether if it was safe or not to board down at a particular time. The first person went down, no problem. Then the second and the third one. It was my turn now.

“Hmmmm this is not fast enough” I thought “I wanna go fast, I wanna go fast, I wanna go fast.” What followed was a train wreck. An awesome train wreck I should say. You see, I didn’t have the cash to buy a GoPro strap-on for the chest or head so my filming method consisted of using a baton and trying to take a selfie video of me going down.

That was mistake number 3.

The first fall is always the hardest. The second one even less so. By the third one I was actually laughing because of the adrenaline rush and when it was time of the last and fourth fall I was actually disappointed because I couldn’t fall once more and the descent was finished.

Flipping your board and rolling down is painful but that’s the kind of pain you’ll actually enjoy and talk about in the years to come. I survived volcano boarding and it was TOTALLY awesome!

Once the adrenaline rush was over, we headed back to the ranger base where we had an amazing vegetarian taco lunch and the guide asked us if we wanted to climb up again to do another round of volcano boarding. To nobody’s surprise, only one Polish girl wanted to give it a second go. Polish travelers are beyond awesome!

The rest of us, already crushed and tired of our volcano experience, decided to hang back at the base, sharing life stories and wondering if our grandchildren will one day believe that we boarded down an active volcano and lived to tell the tale. To be honest, they probably won’t. At least until I show them the amazing GoPro vide of my four falls.

Last but not least, don’t forget to use our Booking.com Affiliate Link of Wonders for making hotel reservations.

Same price for you and a small pocket money commission for this website of yours.

Sweet deal, uh?

Have you ever felt such an intense adrenaline rush? Would you dare to try volcano boarding? What’s your favorite thrill-seeking adventure? Share your thoughts and let me know what you think!

Volcano boarding in Leon Nicaragua
The Cerro Negro Volcano in Nicaragua

19 Comments

  • Stunning stuff as always Raphael, you do man! I’ve heard the volcanoes and scenery are quite amazing. Thanks!

  • Such a unique and cool experience. I was pretty interested after a couple of paragraphs, but the taco lunch clinched it for me. How long were you in pain for following the ride?

  • Wooowww!! I wonder if I would have the courage to go through with it!! The only vaguely thrill seeking activity I did was cliff jumping, and it took me AGES to finally jump (also I fell on my face, so ow :P ). Would love to give this a go though!! Looks awesome!!!

  • Queztal Trekkers is a great company to go with – I went with them on my overnight camping hike to the base of a volcano. Unfortunately I missed volcano boarding during my trip (looks like I will have to return to Leon). Looks like you had a great time! :D

  • I remember doing this a couple of years ago, nearly made it all the way but axed myself at the end. Great fun though.

  • I love snowboarding so I would absolutely try volcano boarding as well. Although I am a bit skeptical… Is it really fast? can you drive curves and the like? Or do you get stuck in the ash? I tried sand boarding once and found it really boring because ist was soooo slow…

  • I’d love to try this one day! So far I’ve attempted to climb a volcano in Chile (but failed because there was too much ice on the glacier) and gone sandboarding in Australia so this would be the perfect adventure for me!

  • Wow that sounds incredible! Thank you for sharing all of your “mistakes” with us – it sounds like a super memorable and very thrilling time! I would really like to try this sometime. And I love that they served you a vegetarian lunch, too!

  • Sounds awesome! We did sandboarding in Huacachina and I loved it – but I SUCKED at it! Can’t imagine I’d be any better at volcano boarding, but I’d love to give it a whirl!

  • This is something I’ll have to try when I return to Nicaragua. I was there several times in the early 1990s, and volcano surfing wasn’t ever on the agenda. :)

  • This is just bringing back the memories there in Leon. Reading your words is just like bringing me back there. Wish I could go back and do it once again!

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