Volcano Surfing – Cerro Negro, Nicaragua (18.03.18)

Fancy surfing down the side of an active volcano? Of course… why wouldn’t you?

Apart from starting off with phenomenal views from the top Cordillera de los Maribios, (itself a steaming, prehistoric landscape), surfing down provides one hell of an adrenaline hit, guaranteed to thrill even the most die-hard of adventure junkies.

Strap in and enjoy the ride. I loved it.

Imagine taking off from the top of Central America’s newest basaltic cinder cone volcano, 728m high, and sitting (or standing) on a wooden plank the size of a tea-tray, with lush jungle and abundant savannah stretching out like a magic carpet far below.

The thrill-barometer starts to shoot up from the moment your feet leave the coarse, ink-black, crunchy-oat-granola sized, basaltic ash. Thankful for the provided boiler suits and essential goggles, you soon hurtle down the 50% decline as if embarking on some lunatic, daredevil, land speed record attempt. The further you lean back, the faster you go, as the centimetre-thick board effortlessly glides down, across the ashen surface, to the distant run off a kilometre below.  Importantly, the depth of volcanic ash you are sliding down allows for an efficient, foot-friendly braking system.

Feeling like a cross between Batman and a human cannon ball, you will fight the urge to scream in delight, tempered by the probability of getting a gob full of ash. It looks as thrilling as it is. And feels fabulous, as you disappear into a ballistic hail of flying gravel, with a vapour-trail ash cloud stretching out behind you, as if powered by comic book afterburners.

That said, the truth is the magic descent is only half the thrill. Just visiting, climbing and eventually stomping around the barren moonscape crater rim will be one of your travel highlights in this part of the world. The distant views among swirling clouds, are spectacular, and made even more dramatic by the knowledge that Cerro Negro is not only the youngest of Nicaragua’s volcanoes, but also the most active, erupting over twenty times since its first explosion in 1850.

More recently it erupted in 1999, 1995 and 1992.

Set in a region of real beauty, surrounded by volcanoes and lush hillsides, the closest village, Malpaisillo, 10km away, is supported by fertile, black soil farmlands where the traditional way of life, albeit influenced by political events dominated by the Sandinistas, continues to chug along at its typical rural Nicaraguan pace.

I urge you to include this surfing experience, as it is a fabulous day trip from the fascinating town of Leon. Equally, it is a hugely different volcano trip to the Concepcion Volcano Climb I have previously blogged about.

Photos in ascending and then descending order: