Volcano Boarding in Cerro Negro
Guest post by Claudia Tavani *
I had never seen a volcano before until I travelled to Central America for the first time. Yes, there are many in southern Italy – but none in Sardinia, where I live.
As you could imagine, I was really excited to find myself in Nicaragua, internationally known as “the land of lakes and volcanoes”. Indeed, there are 19 volcanoes in Nicaragua, most of them active. There are many incredible things to do in Nicaragua, but something that I really did not want to miss was hiking a volcano, so I just had to pick one.
When I enquired about hiking Cerro Negro near León, I found out that it was also possible to go volcano boarding. I had never even heard of that, and that is possibly why I was so interested in it and immediately said I wanted to do it.
So, on a very hot afternoon, I was picked up from my hostel in León to take part on a guided hike of volcano Cerro Negro. The drive to reach the base of the volcano took us about 45 minutes on a dirt road. When we all got there, we were each given a very rustic wooden sled (whose bottom is layered in metal) to carry to the top of the volcano: this is what we were to use to go volcano boarding.
We carried that sled all the way hiking up the volcano. The hike to the top wasn’t too long (around one hour) nor difficult, except the wind was so strong that it threatened to blow me away, especially as the sled almost acted like a sail! I hardly like wind, but on that occasion I enjoyed it as it provided relief from the terrible heat I had been experiencing in León.
Once we got to the top, the guide provided us with orange overalls and goggles. We looked like prisoners in a high security prison, really. But the outfit was intended to block at least some of the dust and to provide a minimum protection in case we fell while volcano boarding in Cerro Negro.
I was the first one in my group to slide down. I am not sure why I was assigned this task, but it became pretty clear that the first person sliding would pave the runway for the rest of the group. Since I was the smallest in the group, it was pretty obvious that I would never go down fast enough (it’s a simple law of physics).
So, while I desperately tried to speed up a bit (what happened to the stories of people who went down at 60 km per hour, fell and got bruised, scratched, etc?) and constantly had to get off my sled to get the sand off it, eventually the others overtook me as they sped to the bottom.
Regardless of how slow I slid down, it was fun. My hair was covered in dust by the time I made it to the bottom, and it took a good, long shower to properly clean it.
The best part of the tour however was getting to experience a fantastic sunset, just as a thunderstorm was starting in the distance.