Last updated on March 24th, 2022
Volcano boarding, aka, speeding down a volcano on a “toboggan” at speeds over 20 mph is thrilling and definitely something you won’t want to miss on your Nicaragua itinerary.
Would you try it?
Have you heard of volcano boarding?
When I first found about volcano boarding at my local adventure show, I was like “WHAATT?!?!?! This exists, I need to try this!”
So off I went planning a trip to Costa Rica and Nicaragua entirely based upon experiencing volcano boarding.
And of course, what better day to try it, than on my birthday! Woot! I still haven’t been able to top that birthday!
If you haven’t heard about volcano boarding, or even if you have, keep reading to find out everything you need to know about volcano boarding, as well as what it’s like to try it.
What is Volcano Boarding?
You may be wondering what in the world is volcano boarding?
Well simply put, volcano boarding is an extreme sport where you hike up a volcano and ride down using a “toboggan” like piece of wood on the volcanic ash.
And oh, is it ever fun!
Where Can You Try It – about Cerro Negro
Cerro Negro, aka Black Hill, is a 728 m volcano located just outside of Leon, Nicaragua.
Cerro Negro is the largest single cylindrical volcano in the world as well as the youngest volcano in Central America, born in 1850.
And did I mention that it is active?
Although Cerro Negro has not erupted since 1999, it often emits gas and smoke, and you can feel the warm heat when you brush back the surface ash with your hands.
Why Should You Go Volcano Boarding in Nicaragua?
Nicaragua is the best place to go volcano boarding for thrill-seekers.
Cerro Negro in Leon, Nicaragua was the first place where you could try volcano boarding. It’s always exciting to try something where it was created.
Cerro Negro is one of the only active volcanos that you can ride down, and the only active one in all of Central America.
Talk about a unique experience!
The only other active volcano you can volcano board is in the South Pacific island of Vanuatu and it is much more dangerous, with frequent eruptions.
If that was not enough, volcano boarding is listed #2 on CNN’s most thrilling experiences.
Now, I know you wanna try it!
Hiking Cerro Negro
The hardest part begins now.
To have fun riding down the volcano, you must somehow get to the top. Sounds easy, right?
It is about 45-60 minutes of constant steep uphill hiking to get up the 728 m volcano, as you slowly spiral around on the loose volcanic rocks that cover the outside to reach the top.
I’m a slow walker and not in the best physical shape, so I quickly fell to the back of the group, but I was still able to make it up to the top.
As you ascend the volcano, you will feel the wind getting slightly stronger.
Tip: If you have long hair, tie it up. Your hair will end up quite a tangled mess from the wind if you don’t.
Tip: Sometimes you can hire someone to carry up your board for you, if you wish, I chose to carry my own.
Volcano Boarding Cerro Negro
The most important information they give you is: if you fall off your board to not lose it.
If the board continued down the volcano on its own, then you would be stuck walking down the rest of the volcano.
I didn’t imagine walking down the volcano to be as fun as riding down, so I was determined not to fall off, or so I hoped not to.
There is no built-in track, though, there are three lines relatively defined from people riding down at those spots, and these are where you sit and follow during your ride down the volcanic ash.
It takes about 5 minutes to ride down the volcano, so sit back and enjoy.
You have a few options when it comes to controlling your speed. If you lean back and keep your feet up, you will go faster.
If you sit more forward and keep your feet more down, you will go slower.
Speed can vary between 20 – 60 mph depending on how you control your board.
Tip: Start sitting back a bit with your feet up, and put them down and lean forward if you feel like you are going too fast.
I leaned forward with my feet down the entire time so I only went about 20 mph, but people who went faster had even more fun.
I would definitely start with my feet up next time.
Tip: If you fall off your board, don’t let go of it. Slowly wiggle around a bit until you can place the board under your bottom, and get moving again.
What To Pack
- Hiking shoes or old running shoes that you can destroy
- A mask or piece of clothing to cover your face from dust
- Comfortable clothing
- A hair tie for long hair
- Camera or GoPro – preferably adventure camera – or your smartphone – do not bring an expensive camera
Note: Bigfoot Hostel has a photographer who will take photos and post them on Facebook.
They took the group photo of everyone on top of the volcano, as well as the pictures of us riding down the volcano, even though we had our own camera also.
How Can I Go Volcano Boarding?
Bigfoot Hostel is the only place that provides the opportunity to try volcano boarding in Nicaragua, and they are amazing.
Bigfoot Hostel includes roundtrip transportation from Leon, entry to the park, a shirt, a snack and a beverage.
All for around $30USD.
Plus, you get to wear bright orange jumpsuits, which keep your own clothes clean, keep you from scraping your skin if you fall off your board and make you super visible.
What It’s Like – Volcano Boarding in Leon, Nicaragua
I was excited to be going volcano boarding. I knew the hike up Cerro Negro was going to challenge me as I am out of shape, but I knew that slow and steady works for me to conquer obstacles.
When I reached the top, I looked out in awe and admired the beauty of the volcano. I couldn’t believe I just hiked up a volcano! I was so happy to be here.
Patrick had informed the group that it was my birthday and the next thing I knew, everyone was singing me happy birthday at the top of a volcano. Talk about a memorable birthday celebration!
Now it was time to get the volcano boarding started.
Ordinarily, I never like to try anything first, partly to being too scared and partly as I require seeing how to do things first.
As it was my birthday, everyone cheered me on to be part of the first group of three. So, I chose to break away my regular decision-making and go for it. I was gonna go first.
I sat down and prepared to start.
Next thing I heard: Go! And I was off!
Speeding down the volcano, I was having fun. I was so excited to try volcano boarding, and what a thrill it was.
A few moments later is when it happened… The one thing I had been fearing… I fell off my board.
Oh no, oh no, what do I do now? I don’t want to lose my board and have to walk down.
I clung onto my board tightly, thinking about what to do next.
They tell you not to fall off the board, but they don’t tell you how to get back on.
And I’m still barely down the volcano. I have a long way to go. Think, think, think. How can I manage to get back on this thing?
I yelled out “HOW CAN I GET BACK ON?” but no one heard, as I was too far away from the photographer below, or anyone else at the top or bottom of the volcano. I was on my own. Stuck.
I acknowledged I would have to be cautious in attempting to get back onto the board, as I recognized it would start moving when it could, and I needed to be in a stable position to ride the rest of the way down.
I tried wiggling one way, and that didn’t quite work. I tried wiggling another way, and that didn’t work either.
After a few minutes of thinking and wiggling, I managed to get the board under me and down the volcano, I began to move. Woohoo! I was having so much fun again. What a relief.
When I reached the bottom of the volcano, I was relieved that I didn’t wipe out badly and that I managed to get back on the board to enjoy my ride. I really didn’t want to walk all that way down the volcano and miss out on riding all the way down.
Volcano boarding was everything that I had hoped, and I really wanted to try it again. Too bad the tour was only for one ride and that P and I had to move on from Leon.
It was over now, but I was happy to have had the opportunity to experience volcano boarding. I will definitely go volcano boarding again sometime, and next time, I want to bring friends to share the experience with.
Hope this information helped you with volcano boarding in Nicaragua.
Related Posts – Central America
- Costa Rica and Nicaragua Itinerary
- Surfing – San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua
- Ziplining the Cloud Forest in Costa Rica
- Fun Things to Do in Monteverde
- Panama 7 Day Itinerary
- Getting Around Panama
- Beautiful Places to Visit in Panama
Have you been volcano boarding? I’d love to hear all about your experience.
Not tried volcano boarding? I would love to hear whether you would go volcano boarding or not in the comments below.