I had arrived in the cultural city of Leon in Nicaragua just at the right time. I was still high on adrenaline from completing my Advanced Open Water Diving Course in Honduras and just felt like I wanted to do something crazy. We'd had such a long bus journey from the island of Utila and had been looking forward to Nicaragua for so long that it was time to enter the country with a bang.
When Stu mentioned about volcano boarding, I was shocked I had never even heard about it. How is this a thing? Who made this up? I simply couldn't imagine it being done. I knew one thing for sure though, it was exactly the activity we were in the mood for.
THE LAND OF LAKES AND VOLCANOES
Nicaragua is known for it's stunning lakes, warm lagoons and impressive volcanoes. Home to 19 volcanoes (many of those still active) - it's one of the best places in the world to experience these natural fiery wonders. Eight of these reside near Leon (two of which last erupted only in 2015!) making it the perfect city to jot down to your bucket list.
One of the most interesting volcanoes in the area is Cerro Negro. Last erupting in 1999, this ashy 'Black Hill' is the youngest of all volcanoes in Central America. This is the place where dozens of travellers get to hike to the summit and then make their own (very thrilling) way down -- by board!
CHOOSING THE COMPANY: VOLCANO DAY
Multiple companies can be found on the streets of Leon but I strongly recommend the company I went for -- Volcano Day.
Not only do they offer volcano boarding day trips but also other volcano experiences from sunset hiking to overnight camping trips! Their shop is located on one of the main streets next to Via Via Hostel and Big Foot Hostel.
1 Morning Trip (8am-1pm) Volcano Boarding: $30
Included: Transport - Entrance Fee - English Speaking Tour Guide - Snacks - Protection Clothing / Gear (Jumpsuit, Goggles, Gloves plus a Bag to carry it in) - Board - 1 free (very cold) beer - 1 free t-shirt
What to Bring: WATER - Bandana (to cover your face) - Appropriate Shoes / Hiking Boots - Sunscreen - Sunglasses - Action Camera (GoPro)
Do Not Take: Your main / proper Camera (it will only get damaged)
These guys know what they're doing and I can guarantee you will have a fantastic trip with them. Not only is there a guide to explain about the volcano itself and 'train' you on how to board down properly but there are also volunteers there to help out and answer questions. Take any belongings you wish but be prepared you will most likely be asked to leave your rucksack in the vehicle that's taken everyone to the starting point of the hike (we were told there's been no known theft taken place).
This is because what goes up must come down. Anything you take up to the summit must travel back down again with you so there is no point taking your passport, large camera, phone etc unless you want to risk damaging it or breaking it altogether. GoPro's are built to survive this type of stuff so it's fine to take and I actually kept my phone in my bra which ended up ok but the choice is yours. The company capture brilliant photos throughout the day of everyone and upload them to Facebook so you can save them from there for free!