It’s been quite awhile since our last post, so we’re going to try and catch up on our Nicaragua writings! In our last post, we reviewed our time in Leon (aka Granada’s Ugly Stepsister). Leon has tons more to offer outside its city center than what we got to see, including some nearby beaches that we unfortunately did not have time to make it to. The most popular excursion from Leon, however, is volcano boarding down Cerro Negro. This was definitely Richmander’s highlight of our entire trip, and yes, it’s called volcano boarding. Apparently, it’s an actual sport.
It first started when some Aussie thought it would be fun to board down the youngest volcano in Central America: Cerro Negro . He tried everything from mattresses to boogie boards. He even attempted going down with a minibar fridge! Eventually, he settled on the current board / toboggan design which is actually a simple thin reinforced plywood with formica on the underside to increase speed, and of course a rope to hold on to.
There are two groups that do the daily trip: Quetzaltrekkers and Big Foot Hostel. We chose the latter since we stayed at their hostel the previous night. The excursion is $23 + $5 for the national park entrance fee.
After touring the city and lunch, we went back to our hostel and jumped into the bed of the truck waiting for us. After a bumpy hour or so ride, we arrived at the national park entrance.
Next came the arduous 45 minute hike. I can walk for hours, but hiking is definitely a weakness, particularly on rocky gravel. There were a few girls, including myself, who felt the burn as we went up the volcano. Eventually, Richard offered to carry my board. I felt really lucky since our guide had to hold a few extra boards for some others, and I’m sure that wasn’t easy. The hardest part was holding the board and walking against the wind. Not only were we walking against the wind with boards that could have helped push us off, we also had to walk low to the ground. Our guide warned us that winds usually aren’t that rough up there so we had to take a different path and be extra cautious not to get blown over. At one point, Richard almost lost his glasses! It’s a bit scarier when your guide is a little weary for your safety….but we pressed on.
We don’t have a picture of my ride down the volcano since we only had one camera, but I didn’t follow the safety rules as well as I should have. My board eventually flipped as I sped down and I crashed my face into gravel. It left a pretty gnarly bruise that received many “Miss….did you get into a fight during Spring Break? You can tell us Miss…” from my students even a week after the fall. The battle scar was well worth it!
Our guide chose not to tell us the numerous injuries and accidents that could have – and recently have – occurred until the ride back to the hostel. The day before we took the ride, he guided a group and a guy broke his collar bone. In our group, someone broke their ankle. I’m really glad I didn’t know all of the possible catastrophes, otherwise I would have gone much slower down the volcano. Richard and I didn’t come near to breaking any records like some others in our group who went close to 50 mph, but we did have an amazing and fast ride with the grit in our teeth to prove it. Richard made me promise to include adventurous excursions like this on our future trips whenever possible!
I definitely recommend the experience as a must-do for anyone in Leon, but please me careful. It is definitely not as sturdy or safe as I expected. Are there any other unique adventures you have heard of or done that you suggest?