Cerro Negro- Volcano Boarding (Nicaragua)

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Cerro Negro (Black Hill) is a volcano in Nicaragua, that is very unique because it is the only active volcano in the world that you can volcano board down. People started boarding down Cerro Negro in 2004, and it has gained a lot of popularity with travellers. There are no lifts or gondolas, so you have to hike to the top to start your board down.

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Info

  • Difficulty: easy/moderate
  • Elevation: 796 meters
  • Elevation gain: 500 meters
  • Distance: ~2.5 km one way

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Volcano History

Cerro Negro is close to the city of Leon, and it is the youngest volcano in Central America. The first eruption was in 1850, and since then it has erupted 23 times. The last eruption was in 1990, and it is still monitored frequently because it is still active! When we were climbing up we could see smoke coming from one of the two craters and you could smell a bit of sulfur.

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Volcanic Crater
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Crater up close

At about 800 meters above sea level the views from the top captured the Nicaraguan countryside, the Pacific Ocean, and the Maribios volcano range.  The hardened lava that lies around the cone of the volcano stretches for 4 km and looks really pretty against the contrasting greenery of the jungle.

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Volcano Boarding

I was very hesitant on signing up for this because I had heard of many people crashing and hurting themselves, but I am really glad that I tried it. When you are sitting at the top it is very intimidating because you are so high up, the rocks are sharp, and the slope is really steep, but I did not regret doing it, it was really fun.  People can get up to crazy speeds on the board, but it is pretty easy to control your speed by using your feet as brakes. The highest recorded speed was 95km/hr. You will definitely get covered in ash when you get to the bottom, but you have a big jumpsuit on and goggles to protect your eyes.

The cost is about $30-40 USD depending where you sign up. One of the main places to book the ride is with Bigfoot Hostel, and they provide transportation and everything. If you just want to rent the boards they are $10 USD. We decided to book our boards seperately because it was part of an overnight hiking excursion to Volcan El Hoyo. This whole trip cost us $60 USD, which included the volcano boarding for an extra $10.

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View sitting on the board and looking down
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Pat boarding down
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After the board down

Hiking The Volcano

To start this Journey up the volcano, we tied our boards to our backs and began to climb up. The hike was super windy, making it very hard to carry the boards, but if you carried them a certain way you could work with the wind. The trail is pretty narrow on the way up, so you have to go in single file.

Cerro Negro Volcano Nicaragua

Volcanic Crater

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By the time we hiked and boarded down the sun was starting to set, and the sky became a kaleidoscope of colours.

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Getting There

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There are many ways to get to Cerro Negro, and the easiest way is to sign up with a tour company in Leon. However, you could get there by other cities in Nicaragua, it will just cost more you more for transportation. The tour companies drop you off and pick you up at the base of the mountain where the ranger station and a small store is located.

Our group decided to take local transportation from Leon instead of a shuttle. We took the bus from the Central bus station in Leon for about 50 cents, so we saved around $15USD. The bus station was crazy busy and hectic, and it left every 4 hours. You have to ask around for times because we could not find an exact schedule. We left around 11:30am, but I would recommend leaving earlier in the morning because it was really hot when we got there. However, we did catch the sunset by the time we got to the top of the volcano, so that was a bonus.

We did not know at the time, but we got dropped off on a desolate road about 7km away from the base of the mountain. We had to walk along a gravel road, and pass over a couple kilometers of black sand in the heat to get to the ranger station where you rent your boards.

This was a grueling and sweaty walk in loose black sand, so I would definitely go with a company instead of doing it yourself.

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Start of the road where the local bus from Leon dropped us off
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View of Cerro Negro from our drop off spot
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The start of the long black sand walk
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Walk along the black sand

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Struggling

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