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Yes you did read that right, Volcano Boarding on the Cerro Negro Volcano! Speeding down the side of an active volcano may not be everybody’s idea of fun, but it was the only reason we were in Léon, Nicaragua. Sorry mum.
Picture this: sliding down a 45 degree slope covered in volcano rock and ash, clinging on to a rope attached to a piece of plywood whilst accelerating faster than a small car. Yes, it was as awesome as it sounds!
The time had finally come, we were in the minivan, bumping and jolting our way down the dirt track roads towards the looming black beast that we would conquer today. The closer we got, the bigger this thing looked. It was intimidating, imposing, MASSIVE.
We parked up, grabbed a board and started the steep 45 minute hike up over black volcanic rock and gravel. Whenever I travel, there are moments when I just think “wow, I’m a long way from home”. I love that feeling, and it’s one of the main things that makes me want to travel more!
Stood on the side of the huge Cerro Negro, the contrast of the black volcano, surrounding green fields and trees and orange colour at the top of the craters is impressive. The green fields seem to go on forever and ever as the horizon is almost invisible in the distance.
Arriving at the rio of the volcano we see steam rising from various points, and crouching down we feel the heat coming off the volcano. Probably a good idea to head back down then; perhaps not such a good idea to go down the way we’re about to though.
We pull on the delightful aqua jumpsuits and “protective” goggles which I’m pretty sure are less protective than my sunglasses and two by two make our way to the edge. A 45 degree slope sounds steep, but looks much much steeper than I had imagined.
I strap my GoPro to my head, sit on my board, grip the piece of rope and lean back. The more you lean back, the faster you go so I try to lean right back! It takes a while to pick up speed over the rough, gravelly surface of the volcano but I accelerate and accelerate until about half way down I realise I’m completely out if control and there’s no stopping… it’s either wobble and crash or keep as straight as possible in hope of making it to the end!
The slope levelled out and the board slumped to a halt. I’d survived! At my peak I was going about 60/kmh which, with rocks smashing me in the face and dust filling my eyes, felt like I was breaking the land speed record! The one tip that was particularly useful was to keep our mouths shut; I didn’t really want to taste this volcano as well.
Taking my goggles off reminded me of skiing, with the only difference being that instead of sunburn creating “panda marks” around the eyes, it was the black dirt of the volcano. Time for a shower.
Would you try volcano boarding? What’s the most extreme thing you’ve done?