Invented by a crazy Aussie (of course) who decided he wanted to snowboard down a volcano. Volcano boarding in Nicaragua is an epic way to spend a morning in Leon and one of the coolest things I did in Central America. Cerro Negro (Black Hill) an active volcano just outside of Leon is the site of this madness and due to its tiny grains of volcanic rock is the perfect spot for beginner volcano boarders. Thinking about volcano boarding in Nicaragua? Here’s absolutely everything you need to know before you tackle the crazy black sand of Cerro Negro Volcano at speeds of up to 90km.

how to book

Volcano boarding in Nicaragua is currently run by two companies – BigFoot Hostels and Quetzaltrekkers. And it’s easy as pie to book. Either head straight to their offices or jump on their websites. Make sure you book 24 hours in advance as they can book out.

what it costs

Boarding with BigFoot Hostels will set you back $35 USD, but you receive a free t-shirt and a beer. While Quetzaltrekkers will cost you $30 USD and includes a snack, lunch, and water.

what you’ll need

  • Pants you don’t mind getting really, really dirty and potentially ripped. Because while taking on Nicaragua volcano boarding you’ll definitely come off with a few scratches. I went with a pair of leggings.
  • Your custom volcano boarding Nicaragua singlet (given to you when you book).
  • A backpack for your valuables. If you want to take your phone or camera make sure you have a sturdy case as they may break.
  • Runners and socks (you’re going to end up with them filled with dust).
  • 1 litre of water
  • A little cash to buy yourself a cerveza (Spanish for beer) on the way up

What to expect

Volcano boarding Nicaragua - beers
Pre-boarding cervezas

We kicked the day off with a briefing at 8 am. And by 9 the whole group was piling into the back of the huge open air bus BigFoot use to transport their guests around. Everyone looked a little nervous, but soon we were all sharing rumours we’d heard along the Gringo Trail of people breaking bones while hitting speeds of up to 80km down the volcano. After driving for about an hour we stopped at the park entrance, paid our entry fee ($5USD) and bought a beer to raise some ‘Dutch Courage’.

Volcano boarding Nicaragua - the start
The view from the top of Cerro Negro

Next, we all jumped back on the bus and took the 10-minute drive to the foot of Cerro Negro Volcano. Where we threw on our orange jumpsuits and embarked upon an easy 45-minute hike to the top. You could either carry your board up or pay $5USD to have one of the locals carry it up for you. This was an excellent option seeing as you could hide your laziness by saying it was good for the local economy. Once there, our awesome guide recapped the safety instructions and gave us a step by directions on how to steer and brake our boards. And for those crazy enough, how to get the board to go as fast as possible. Unlike snowboarding, volcano boarding in Nicaragua is done sitting down, holding onto a rope attached to the board while using your feet on the gravel for balance.

Then, we were off…

Volcano boarding in Nicaragua - the descent
People screaming down the volcano – Photo by Alamy

The slope down was so much steeper than I expected, you might start off relatively slow, but all of a sudden it feels like you’re speeding out of control. Turns out I was, as I accidentally reached a speed of 51km! But luckily I was able to maintain my cool and ride safely to the bottom. While a few people came off their boards, there we no serious injuries, and most people were able to control their speed pretty well. Our group ranged from 20km – 90km.

At the bottom, we walked back to the truck and enjoyed a well-earned cerveza while discussing what the hell had just happened. All in all volcano boarding Nicaragua was an experience I won’t be forgetting any time soon.


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