Volcano Boarding at Bigfoot Hostel in León, Nicaragua

I went Volcano Boarding in Nicaragua and lived to tell about it.

Bigfoot Hostel Volcano Boarding in Leon, Nicaragua.

Bigfoot Hostel Volcano Boarding in Leon, Nicaragua

Let’s take a moment to assess the photo above, a picture of a sign describing volcano boarding at Bigfoot Hostel in Leon, Nicaragua. Shall we?

In this photo, volcano boarding is described as…


for “thrill seekers”

“the trendiest sport for adrenaline junkies”

“death defying”

Now, let’s face facts here, people. I am not extreme. I am the opposite of extreme. I am not a thrill seeker. I am certainly not an adrenaline junkie. And if I am going to partake in anything death defying it probably involves a massive amount of junk food.

I’m the kind of girl who is perfectly content lounging around on a couch watching Food Network with a mug of hot chocolate.

Do you even remember the time I went bungee jumping? And by “went bungee jumping” I mean “got to the top and cried and had to be walked down.”

I am not extreme.

I am not the type of girl who willingly goes volcano boarding.

But, when in Rome…or, I suppose, when in Leon, Nicaragua, the thing to do is volcano board. And so I sucked it up and booked the volcano boarding tour at Leon’s Bigfoot Hostel.

At the beginning of the day, standing at the base of a tall black volcano I wasn’t sure which part of the excursion I was dreading more: the hour-long hike up (hey, I’m from Illinois, I am used to walking on flat surfaces) or the minute-long plummet down the surface of it.

Both had me feeling a bit weak in my stomach. Not to mention the fact that no one tells you beforehand that you have to carry your board the entire way up. I mean, years of cuddling on a couch hasn’t really built up the ole arm muscles…

But I accepted the inevitable, and trudged on.

Bigfoot Hostel Volcano Boarding in Leon, Nicaragua

Bigfoot Hostel Volcano Boarding in Leon, Nicaragua

The hike up Cerro Negro itself wasn’t that bad. A little rocky, maybe. A little steep for my liking, maybe. But at least we got to take a few breaks to drink some water and catch our breaths. Or take photos jumping off a rock at the edge of a cliff if anyone so desired. I did not take photos jumping off a rock at the edge of a cliff.

In case you were wondering.

Bigfoot Hostel Volcano Boarding in Leon, Nicaragua

Bigfoot Hostel Volcano Boarding in Leon, Nicaragua

Bigfoot Hostel Volcano Boarding in Leon, Nicaragua

When we arrived at the top of Cerro Negro we suited up in bright orange jumpsuits that made the whole thing feel like it was some desperate attempt to escape from prison. But, really, prison sounded much less scary at that moment.

Bigfoot Hostel Volcano Boarding in Leon, Nicaragua

Bigfoot Hostel Volcano Boarding in Leon, Nicaragua

And then it was time to line up and go. And by go I mean plummet down the side of a live volcano. One by one every backpacker sat on their board, a modified wooden sled, and slid down the slope. Most everyone was asking for tips on how to go as fast as possible. I was begging for ideas on how to make it go slower.

Basically, you could control how fast or slow you want to board down the volcano. The further you leaned back the faster it would go. You could go slower by digging your heels into the gravel.

When it was my turn to go down, when the guide waved from below signaling for me to start, I was still scared to death. But, at that point, my only option was to go. So I put down my board, sat down, and pushed myself forward.

I deliberately started off slowly, maybe too slowly, not being the death-defying thrill seeker that most of the others seemed to be. And, for a bit, it was a little scary as I felt like I was losing control.

And then, as I felt more comfortable with it, I started to bring up my feet a little, lean back a little, watch the volcano breeze by through scratched goggles, let myself go.

Bigfoot Hostel Volcano Boarding in Leon, Nicaragua

Unfortunately by that time some gravel had piled up on my board, weighing it down, and my final score was clocked in at 15 kilometers per hour. Which was, of course, the slowest time of the day.

I still think that I had a point in time where I was whizzing down faster, as it was kind of arbitrary what time the man with the speed gun would be able to record our velocity. Even the Bigfoot guide said it looked like I was going faster than some of the others.

But, nevertheless, I made it down, I went volcano boarding in Nicaragua. And I made it down 15 kilometers faster than I’ve ever boarded down a volcano before.

And I’m still alive to tell about it.

And that is good enough for me.

Bigfoot Hostel Volcano Boarding in Leon, Nicaragua

Hi, I'm Val. I spent most of my 20s in a standstill, unable to pick which path in life I wanted to take. I wanted the nomadic life of a traveler but also wanted the husband, the condo, and the kitten. Unable to decide which life I wanted more, I did nothing. When I turned 30 I’d had enough of putting my life on hold and decided to start “choosing my figs.” So, I quit my job, bought a one-way ticket to Europe, and traveled for three years. Now I'm back in Chicago, decorating my apartment in all the teal, petting my cats, and planning my next adventure.

1 Comment
  • Gina
    June 28, 2013at7:26 pm

    I’ve never heard of volcano boarding before, but it sounds like fun!

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