Looking to spice up your bucket list with something that’ll really get your adrenaline surging? How about zooming down the treacherous slope of 16,000 ft active volcano at 50 mph with nothing but a wooden plank and a heaping dose of courage.
Welcome to Cerro Negro, a fire-breathing giant that looms over the lush tropical landscape of western Nicaragua. It is the youngest active volcano in Central America and has erupted over 20 times since its birth in 1850.
Volcanoes do a fantastic job at keeping people at bay for obvious reasons, but in the case of Cerro Negro, adventurists and thrill seekers just can’t stay away.
According to VivaTropical.com, Nicaragua is quickly becoming an ex pat and globe trotter dream destination, luring travelers from all corners of the earth with pristine beaches, simple living and vibrant culture, not to mention it is the only country in the world that offers volcano surfing tours.
Expeditions are run out of Bigfoot Hostel in colonial Leon, where boarders don orange jumpsuits and goggles before they are transported via truck to Cerro Negro’s base, located 15 miles from town.
You won’t find any chairlifts or shuttles in this neck of the woods. Instead, boarders must trek 600 ft up to the drop off point. Once at the top, it’s dusty, dark sediment, rocks and a hurtling drop from there. Plaster your rump to a board, pretend the Cerro Negro is about to gush lava, and leave your inhibitions behind as you plummet into a black ash abyss.
So who was the crazy…I mean badass that started it all?
In 2005 a light bulb went off in Australian sand boarder Darryn Webb’s noggin, and he decided to give volcano surfing a go. After slipping and sliding down the great slope on everything from mattresses to boogie boards and even a minibar fridge, he constructed a sled-like board from plywood and a new extreme sport was born.
Webb began leading tours out of Leon and it didn’t take long for volcano surfing to, no pun intended, erupt. He sold the business in 2008, but it continues to thrive and is becoming a “must-do” in Central America.
Cerro Negro awaits, are you ready to take the plunge of a lifetime?
Courtney is a full-time writer covering soccer, travel and the outdoors. You can find her scouting out hole in the wall joints for the perfect carnitas taco, jumping in the ocean under the light of a full moon or exploring the beautiful Florida wilderness and documenting her adventures in her blog, www.localtravelgal.wordpress.com.