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.
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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!