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Volcano Boarding in Nicaragua

Volcano boarding is a sport all its own –and the board's optional, as this foot-slider on Cerro Negro demonstrates.
Volcano boarding is a sport all its own –and the board's optional, as this foot-slider on Cerro Negro demonstrates.

Ever been volcano boarding? Consider adding it to your bucket list – especially if you're in Nicaragua.

Volcan Cerro Negro is 25 kilometers from the colonial city of León, Nicaragua. The country is populated with volcanoes, and Cerro Negro is one of the younger formations (less than 200 years old). Due to a 1999 eruption, this volcano has no vegetation and is almost entirely covered with black volcanic ash.

The smooth volcanic ash and rock make for an incredibly smooth ride. At the base of the volcano there are snowboards for rent, or you can slide down the volcano in your shoes. The volcano is only 400 meters high, but since there is no paved path to the rim the 60-minute hike up can be challenging.

As you hike up to the rim (left), you pass small craters billowing out gas and sometimes-unbearable sulfuric fumes.

But once you make it to the top, you’ll be rewarded with spectacular 360-degree views, including of nearby volcanoes El Hoyo, Momotombo, San Cristobal and Telica.

We strapped in, and immediately I realized this wasn’t sandboarding – volcano boarding involves a mix of smooth volcanic gravel and some sand. You quickly realize that stand-up boarding will bog you down, while sitting down can result in some serious speed. One of the hostels told me they’ve clocked clients at over 80 kilometers per hour.

Experienced snowboards will discover that making turns is not easy and will need to perform kick turns instead. Carving is impossible; you will definitely bite the dust. Some people in our group descended the volcano by skiing with only their shoes dug into the smooth rock.

There are a number of tour companies operating out of the once-Sandinista town of León that provide a tour to Cerro Negro. I used Quetzaltrekkers, as 100% of profits from the trips go to an organization that cares for León street children.

Plan on a 60-minute climb and a 45-second descent in a hot, rugged landscape resembling the surface of the moon. Wear sturdy hiking shoes, long pants and long sleeves, and bring sunscreen as the sun beating on the black lava rock intensifies the heat. The trip is $30 per person.

Afterwards, I picked ash and rocks out of my ears for several days.

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Volcano boarding is a sport all its own –and the board's optional, as this foot-slider on Cerro Negro demonstrates.
Volcano boarding is a sport all its own –and the board's optional, as this foot-slider on Cerro Negro demonstrates.

Ever been volcano boarding? Consider adding it to your bucket list – especially if you're in Nicaragua.

Volcan Cerro Negro is 25 kilometers from the colonial city of León, Nicaragua. The country is populated with volcanoes, and Cerro Negro is one of the younger formations (less than 200 years old). Due to a 1999 eruption, this volcano has no vegetation and is almost entirely covered with black volcanic ash.

The smooth volcanic ash and rock make for an incredibly smooth ride. At the base of the volcano there are snowboards for rent, or you can slide down the volcano in your shoes. The volcano is only 400 meters high, but since there is no paved path to the rim the 60-minute hike up can be challenging.

As you hike up to the rim (left), you pass small craters billowing out gas and sometimes-unbearable sulfuric fumes.

But once you make it to the top, you’ll be rewarded with spectacular 360-degree views, including of nearby volcanoes El Hoyo, Momotombo, San Cristobal and Telica.

We strapped in, and immediately I realized this wasn’t sandboarding – volcano boarding involves a mix of smooth volcanic gravel and some sand. You quickly realize that stand-up boarding will bog you down, while sitting down can result in some serious speed. One of the hostels told me they’ve clocked clients at over 80 kilometers per hour.

Experienced snowboards will discover that making turns is not easy and will need to perform kick turns instead. Carving is impossible; you will definitely bite the dust. Some people in our group descended the volcano by skiing with only their shoes dug into the smooth rock.

There are a number of tour companies operating out of the once-Sandinista town of León that provide a tour to Cerro Negro. I used Quetzaltrekkers, as 100% of profits from the trips go to an organization that cares for León street children.

Plan on a 60-minute climb and a 45-second descent in a hot, rugged landscape resembling the surface of the moon. Wear sturdy hiking shoes, long pants and long sleeves, and bring sunscreen as the sun beating on the black lava rock intensifies the heat. The trip is $30 per person.

Afterwards, I picked ash and rocks out of my ears for several days.

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4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs
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