Volcano boarding? Never heard of it yet had to try it.
Researching León, Nicaragua, I came across ‘volcano boarding’ on Cerro Negro. Several tour operators run these jaunts, Moon Travel Guides has a list of several, from which I contacted a few and Julio of Julio Tours stood out for his responsiveness and flexibility in building a custom tour to accommodate my end-of-day timing.
Cerro Negro is a hour journey from León along a very bumpy, unpaved road that requires 4WD. Julio Tours had a comfortable 4WD vehicle; another operator I saw had a backpacker tour with an open back truck with benches that held over a dozen merry, jostled travelers.
The hike up Cerro Negro takes 30-60 minutes and is medium strenuous. You need to carry your own board, which is easy when slid behind shoulder straps of a backpack. The volcano still bubbles underneath, dig a few inches in the sandy, black gravel and you can cook an egg.
Peering down from the top the volcano is steep. So steep that it was the stage for the world bicycle speed record by Frenchman Éric Barone in 2001, his second run then nearly killing him. See him back in 2009:
The challenge for the boarding, though, is how to go fast and not get stuck. The key is too keep the board front pulled up and lean back. I did not have the greatest success, getting stuck in the middle, then getting the hang of it. Regardless of performance, by the bottom you are covered in soot.
Though the slide down was anticlimactic, the hike and anticipation, plus the views, were great.
And watch the guides go ‘volcano running’ down.
There are numerous other volcanoes in the region for hikes of one to many days.