When I got the opportunity to travel to Nicaragua, I took it without a second thought. The itinerary for the weekend included a lake tour, a beach visit, and some weird thing called “volcano boarding.” I’d never heard of it before, but it was meant to take most of the day.
No YouTube, no Google, I went into it completely blind. We met at Big Foot Hostel and had lunch while we waited for our tour guide to arrive. Target departure: 2pm.
We took a (VERY BUMPY) 40-minute bus ride to the bottom of a volcano where we prepared for a hike to the top. When I finally asked what exactly we’d be doing, I was told, “it’s basically like snowboarding but down a volcano instead of a mountain.”
Snowboarding down a volcano?! An ACTIVE volcano??!
Needless to say I was absolutely terrified but very much still down for the cause.
We received equipment-filled backpacks and wooden boards to carry up with us, but luckily we had the option to pay a local citizen to help out. - And I’m glad I did! $4 was a small price to pay not to have to lug extra baggage during the climb.
The hike itself was a marvel. It was very steep, and the wind added another layer of challenge. The terrain wasn’t hard or solid; it was sand-like and a bit slippery. You could feel the warmth of the volcano as you touched the rocks. Watch smoke drifting in the distance.
To say the view was spectacular is a complete understatement. Perfect daylight and powder blue skies. The trek was about 45 minutes, so the colors around us began to change as we got closer to the top. Seeing sunset from atop a volcano is worth the trip alone.
We arrived at the peak and unloaded our backpacks. They had orange jumpsuits and plastic goggles for us to put on. We felt like astronauts getting ready for a trip into space.
They always tell you not to look down, but I was so excited about the views that I moseyed right on over to the edge. That’s when the fear realllyy started to set in - for me and for everyone in my group. There were murmurs going around that people wanted to change their minds about going down.
I felt way better when the guide did the safety demonstration. Whole time I’m thinking I had 10 minutes to turn myself into Shaun White, but as it turned out, the snowboarding analogy wasn’t entirely accurate. You sit on the board and slide down - more like sledding. Now that I can do!
It might not sound extreme but it was absolutely crazy! You’re going up to 60mph down a steep hill, rocks flying everywhere, wind hitting your face. Your feet don’t rest on the board; they dig into the gravel as you slide farther and farther down, your shoes filling with rocks and soot. Smoky smells surround you as the friction against the volcano envelops you in cinematic dust clouds. It’s like you’re in a cartoon but the animations are actually real!
I was so excited for my turn, I almost lost control and fell off my board. I was able to slow down, but it was disappointing to lose momentum because I ended up having to scoot myself down the hill for my last little bit. Bright side, it did create an opportunity for me to actually look around and enjoy the scenery.
A few people in my group definitely took a tumble. And hard! I thought it was bad enough that I scratched my leg up, but one girl flew off her board and came back with a face full of scrapes. (She still says it was worth it!)
There was a campfire waiting for us at the end, so we got to roast marshmallows together under the stars. They also provided beer and rum so we got littyyy cittyyyy and kept the party going on the bus ride back to the hostel. …I may or may not be writing this with a bit of a hangover.
10/10 this was an overall amazing experience, and I couldn’t have imagined that something like it was even possible. Shoutout to the guides, too, they were so friendly and went the extra mile to make sure we enjoyed ourselves. We even got free T-shirts to keep as a souvenir!
Are you adding this to your bucket list? I can’t wait to go back!