Volcano Boarding Nicaragua

Sand boarding down an active volcano is the ultimate adrenaline rush-

“This is safe right?  These jumpsuits are as tattered as a buzzard stalking a sick cow.  Is this a blood stain around the hole in my leg?” I ask as my boots sink into the scorched earth at the top of the active volcano, trying to see the bottom through the sulfurous gasses and my watering eyes.  “Yess… is safe,” the guide says with a forced grin.  “Listo?”

I’d find out later that’s the only bit of English Pablo knows…

I used to flight test experimental aircraft and orange jumpsuits served one main purpose – to find the bodies, so I have a healthy skepticism when I see a line of gringos marching in mangled orange suits to the top of a smoldering volcano carrying frayed plywood boards to try to break the speed record for sandboarding to the bottom.  The thought of breaking a record is a pleasant distraction, but we’d soon learn the meaning behind the forced grin.




The Ultimate Adrenaline Rush

If you are looking for the ultimate adrenaline rush, look no further than sandboarding down the Cerro Negro volcano in Nicaragua.  This is the youngest volcano in Central America and one of the most active.  Consistent eruptions and favorable winds have created a steep slope of black sand perfect for this activity.  Just imagine what the locals thought when this 2100 ft volcano began sprouting out of a cornfield barely more than a century ago.




The Death March

After a grueling 5-hour hike over sharp volcanic rock, we stare over the crater’s edge and cannot even see the bottom.  Only half of our group made it this far.  The guides ask us to snap a few ‘before’ pictures – this will make sense later.  We push off.  The top part of the volcano is relatively tame, allowing a controlled slide and a sense of control.  But then it gets steeper.  And much faster.  The 70-degree incline that defies physics actually increases as you go down!




The Crash and Burn

The nervousness grows with your speed, and just then you’ll see the guy with the radar gun.  Intoxicated with dreams of seeing your name on the wall of the hostel, sensibility fades away.  But then you hit a bump the ‘death wobble’ starts. (as we used to say on skateboards right before smacking face-first into a curb)  There’s no recovering at that point.  Next thing you know, you’re tumbling down the black sand slope, disoriented in a cloud of dust.  The sand is actually pretty soft, so the impact doesn’t hurt.

The guides are laughing hysterically – this is better than a paycheck for them.  The black sand is covering everything, except for where our goggles had slid down your face.  The ‘after’ pictures are priceless, as if we’d just emerged from being trapped in a mine collapse, parched and exhausted but happy to be alive.  We would be cleaning this sand out of every orifice for weeks, but it’s totally worth it.


Leon, Nicaragua

Cerro Negro is near Leon, the ideal hub for exploring the rugged north of Nicaragua. It was colonial Nicaragua’s rowdy second city with a scarred past. Historically it’s been in the shadow of spectacular Granada, The city built by the Spanish to showcase a colonial utopia and demonstrate the power of the Spanish Empire. But beneath Leon’s cracking facades, bullet holes and faded Che graffiti, Leon is where traditional culture bumps elbows with modern ideas over shots of the finest cheap rum you can buy. A little bit nutty, a little bit artsy, little bit edgy at times, the city attracts creative types from all over the region to the colleges. The adventurous activities here take on a creative edginess all their own.


To see a few ridiculous things I have planned, see my Extreme Bucket List

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About the author: Brad Bernard


Brad Bernard has traveled through 92 countries to find off-the-map experiences and authentic adventure travel. He pushes his own personal boundaries by travelling experimentally. Brad’s personal quest to find the most extreme and unique in travel has bred misadventures and moments of enlightenment alike. You can read his craziest stories on his adventure travel blog

Website: https://plus.google.com/+BradBernard340/