THE CENTRAL AMERICAN SERIES PT12
LEON – GRANADA – LAKE NICARAGUA
Checked into Latina hostel, absolutely no Latina’s but the staff were super helpful. There’s only 4 people in the hostel so the fella who looks after it offered to take me for some traditional Nicaraguan food – banana leaves. Was the cheapest meal I’ve had and actually pretty good.
THE ASH GETS ABSOLUTELY EVERYWHERE
I promised myself I wouldn’t climb another volcano after Antigua but I’ve been told to sign up for the volcano boarding here, when in Rome and all that!
WHERE IS LEON?
Volcano boarding in Leon, Nicaragua
Thankfully it wasn’t much of a hike, 30 minutes would have you up there but there are plenty of spots to stop for a quick photo including at the crater which was cool before everyone got kitted up.
Great fun, just like bum boarding on snow but the ash is a little less forgiving. Ended up everywhere but worth it 100% and wouldn’t think twice about doing it again!! Probably the only downside was not being able to race up for another go.
WHERE IS IT
Cerro Negro is around an 1 hour from Leon the town you will depart from. Leon is one of 3 towns I enjoyed while in Nicaragua and found it to be one of my favourite places. It is definitely worth hanging around for a few days .
Obviously it depends on who you book through but all the reputable agents are a similar price. Anything between $30 – $40 is a good deal and considering you are away for 5 hours is great value!
WHEN TO GO
Its important like anywhere to go in the dry season which is between December and April. Outside of these months Nicaragua can get very wet and humid which aren’t ideal conditions for travelling in.
As for the time of day I would suggest the earlier the better. It was very hot when I was there and the sun can be hard on the old Irish skin for me, not to mention it makes the walk up that little bit easier.
HOW TO BOOK
There are plenty of operators and agents available in the town but I always opt to book with the hostel I am staying at. This is for a number of reasons. It gives you the best chance of meeting other backpackers in your hostel. And also for peace of mind. Booking with your accommodation means they are likely to be working with a reliable operator which can both guarantee your safety and your money. After all it’s in their interest to make sure you have a positive experience.
WHAT DO YOU NEED
It’s very important to bring all the right gear with you but boiler suits and goggles will be supplied by the guide.. A camera is not essential as the guides will be taking photos during your descent.
WHAT TO BRING:
- Old trainers
- 2L water
- T shirt
- Gopro but not handheld
Obviously the transport will be taken care of but the drive takes around 1 hour from Leon, just enough time to get to know to rest of the group. I was fortunate this time as our group was pretty good. I met another pair of travelers who are coming up to their 100th country.
HOW LONG IS THE HIKE?
We arrived at the foot of Cerro Negro and began our almost 2500ft ascent with our boards strapped to our back which proved troublesome with the wind the closer we got to the top. I wouldn’t let this put you off however as the walk is fairly basic.
The heat at the bottom was intense but fortunately as we made our way up the breeze really helped. The hike took little under an hour at a slow and steady pace, stopping for photos as and when we wanted.
IS IT HARD?
The hike itself is no problem, our group had people of all fitness levels and no one really had problems. As before the guides stop fairly often and if you need to stop again then it’s never an issue.
The trip down is nothing but fun and can be taken as slowly or as quickly as you want. Two people go at the same time for added competition but its easy to go at a speed that suits you.
At the top we were given an introduction on what to do and what not to do. It is recommended to use your heels to keep you slow at the start to get your confidence up. I’m quite (extremely) competitive so I wasn’t planning on digging in my heels anytime soon. They also suggested you don’t board down the mountain as its next to impossible and would probably ruin your experience – you only get one go. One of the people on our trip couldn’t be told and lets just say it didn’t work out for him.
Volcano boarding in Leon, Nicaragua
As we only get one go at it I wasn’t dying to use my feet from the beginning, but rather just go and see what happened. Of course I should have listened to the advice as it was no time before I was completely out of control. But at this stage the heels technique did nothing but direct volcanic ash into my face.
I quickly gained momentum and knew that my life was in the hands of the mountain. With the speed I was going all it would take was one small bump which would send me flying. And because everything was so black you couldn’t make out the lie of the land. It was one of my best experiences of Central America and before I knew it I was down at the bottom asking if we had time to make the trip up again!!
Beware if you going at speed and dig your heels in your trainers will likely suffer from it.
- PEOPLE – 7.5/10
- BACKPACKING – 8.5/10
- WEATHER – 8/10
- THINGS TO DO – 7.5/10
- VALUE – 8/10
If you ever planning on visiting Nicaragua then Volcano boarding has to go right to the top of your list! Yes it sounds completely nuts but its fit for literally anyone. So if you are reading this and still unsure you are capable just remember this will probably be your only opportunity.
After a trip to yet another volcano spitting out lava (Masaya Volcano National Park, Granada) it was time to move on. Click here to see the last of my photos of the Central America Series. Click to read.
SAFE TRAVELS, DS x
- Have you been volcano boarding, what was your experience like?
- Did you enjoy Leon, what else did you do?
Let me know in the comments below . . .