After 18 months of continuous travel it has become hard to find new experiences, things that we haven’t done already or places that are truly unique. Although cultures, architecture, religions and ways of life vary massively across the world, the ‘touristy’ activities often remain quite similar. For example most places we go, whether it be in Asia or Central America, usually have ‘must see’ waterfalls, caves, lakes, beaches, hikes and jungle treks. In fact, the last ‘new’ thing we did was snorkelling in a cenote 3 weeks ago. So when we got to Leon in Nicaragua and discovered one of the top things to do here was Volcano boarding our ears pricked, that’s new to us!
Volcano boarding as you can probably guess involves sitting on a board and hurtling yourself off the top of a volcano. At £20 each it’s quite expensive but so is everything in Central America, which is another reason why we’re having to be quite selective about what we see and do. The problem with Central America is the flight prices are ridiculous which means buses are the only option. And as you can imagine, travelling between countries by bus is long, cramped and not fun at all. Each countries highlights are usually dotted around the country which means we’re usually having to decide whether a 10 hour round trip is really worth it to see another famous lake?
Anyway back to the volcano boarding, it was a 30 minute bus (which is bearable) to the Cerro Negro Volcano. This is actually the newest volcano in all of Central America and was only formed in 1850. The Volcano is surrounded by a number of other volcanoes and some very beautiful scenery. When we got there we were given a board, which was basically a beaten up bit of wood. It had a small ridge to sit behind and a handle to hold. We were also handed a drawstring bag that held a denim jumpsuit, gloves and goggles that we were to wear en route down, apparently it get’s very dusty!
The hike up the volcano took about 45 minutes, it was steep and quite hard work in places. It probably didn’t help that we were trying to keep up with kids who were probably 10 years younger than us. Our guide stopped us a few times to take in the stunning views. When we finally got to the top it was noticeable how hot it was, the heat given off by the volcano was crazy, and a little scary! You just had to dig the gravel a few inches with your feet for steam to emerge.
After getting our breath back at the top and changing into our attractive jumpsuits we were all ready. From up there, the drop looked really steep but apparently it was 40-45 degrees. We lined up one by one and watched as people pushed off. Some people were struggling to get going and others didn’t look like they were going that fast, we’ll be fine we thought!
Unlike some of the others, Nick and I made it down without getting stuck. It actually felt really fast and at points I wanted to slow down but remembered the guide said if you put your put down when you’re going too fast your pretty much guaranteed to flip. So with the cost of a visit to hospital in mind, I held on tight and let it run its cause. At the end there is a little bump in the surface which caught me by surprised and sent me jumping into the air. It was a lot of fun and I’d recommend it if you ever have the opportunity.
You can watch Nick go down here:
We were back in Leon by 1pm and instead of having free beers with the rest of the group we left to go and get food. Unsociable I know, but we were starving. As we’re in an Air BnB with a kitchen, we popped to the supermarket for Spaghetti Bolognese ingredients mmmm.
For the rest of the afternoon we did a walking tour around Leon that we found in a Lonely Planet book. The owners of our apartment had left the book in our room and after reading bits of it I was regretting not using these books for the last 18 months, their full of useful info. Anyway, as I can never remember any history about places or the names of sights, here’s the highlights of our little walk around Leon in pictures: