Cerro Negro means “black mountain” and it is the smallest of Nicaragua’s volcanos, located about 45 minutes outside of Leon. This is one of the most unique adventure activities in all of Nicaragua, and the only volcano that permits sandboarding.
After a drive along country dirt roads, you will arrive at the visitors center, where you will collect your equipment. Then it’s a short drive to the bottom of the volcano. Once you have your gear and sand board on your back, it’s time to begin the hike up Cerro Negro.
While it is not a steep incline and is a gradual walk up, the hike is a bit harsh. The beginning of the hike involves navigating over baseball- and soccer ball-size lava rocks, which eventually become a more sandy-gravel consistency. The sandy-gravel is essentially like walking along a slippery sand dune, which can be difficult at times. It can get hot during the hike or you could experience intense winds, depending on the day’s weather. It takes about an hour or more to ascend to the top.
Once you’ve reached the top of Cerro Negro Volcano, you will be welcomed with breathtaking volcanic views. Take in the scenery and admire what you accomplished by hiking up an active volcano! The excitement truly begins on the descend down. Put on your jumpsuit and goggles and get ready to sled down a volcano! The wooden sand board is easy to maneuver and you determine your own speed. Sand boarding is very much like sledding in the snow.
Things to Know/Bring
Don’t drive your rental car here; take a tour that includes transportation. There are multiple tour guide options in Leon. Equipment, which includes a backpack with a jumpsuit, gloves and goggles and a sand board, is also included with the tours. Close-toed shoes are a must, and you should expect to be dirty despite wearing a jumpsuit. Hiking boots are best, but sneakers will work just fine. A scarf or bandana to cover your mouth and nose while sledding down is also recommended.