One reliable thing about Earth is its consistency of remaining inconsistent. Through trenches and mountaintops, the Earth shows us that it hosts most of the beauty that nearly all would agree is breathtaking.
Imagine doing something that makes the adrenaline in your veins boil into a fearless screech. Cerro Negro, Nicaragua, is where adventurers and adrenaline junkies join forces to experience an extreme sport that is not for the faint-hearted. That sport is known as volcano surfing. Volcano surfing is similar to sandboarding but practiced on dunes made of hardened lava and volcanic ashes. Potential dangers to volcano surfing include falling and getting cut by the rough volcanic ash, breathing poisonous gasses, contracting ‘Caver’s Disease,’ or being hit by flying molten lava.
Journalist and National Geographic adventurer Zoltan Istvan considers himself the creator of volcano surfing. His first experience ‘surfing’ occurred on Mount Yasur on the island of Tanna in Vanuatu in 2002, although his first visit to a volcano happened in 1995. Istvan separates volcano boarding into two versions: 1. boarding down an active volcano where immediate dangers come from flying molten lava and lethal volcanic gases, and 2. boarding down an inactive volcano where no immediate danger is present.
Cerro Negro is located near the city of Leon and is only a 50-minute drive away; transportation from León is usually supplied by the company you’re making the booking with. For travelers who plan to visit and experience Volcano surfing, it’s recommended that you book ahead of time. Even if unsure of the dates, the company encourages open communication. Along with transportation being built into the price of your experience, they will also equip you with a bilingual guide, Volcano board, personal protection gear and covers all entrance fees.
There are a select few places where volcano surfing can occur, and Cerro Negro in Nicaragua is the number one volcano boarding destination globally. For private tours consisting of 2-6 people, tickets would cost USD 50, more extensive groups of 7 and up who still want a private tour will pay USD 45 per person, and shared tours cost a mere $30 per person. Any solo travelers who wish to surf will get grouped with smaller groups; the company will try to accommodate their customers.
The 728-meter-high volcano is still active, but it hasn’t erupted since 1999; its activity is monitored regularly. A trip to the volcano will last several hours, most of which you will spend hiking. It should take about an hour to climb up. As you climb to the top, don’t forget to take in the bountiful landscape of Latin America. Once at the top, you will have access to spectacular views of other volcanoes in the central Cordillera de Los Maribios.
As the top gets reached, many look down at the volcano that took them an hour to climb, look out at the other volcanoes, and see how high they are. Remember, this extreme sport is extreme. As you slide your board over the edge, the speed you can reach depends on how fast you want to go. However, volcano boarding on Cerro Negro can reach speeds up to 70 km (43.5 mph). It usually takes around three to five minutes to get back to the bottom of the volcano.
With all things considered, at the end of the day, everything you do in life is for the way it makes you feel. Inconsistency jumps into play when there’s no telling how fast you’d descend, no telling how difficult of a hike it is until you’re there. As Latin landscapes accentuate other volcanoes and the fiery screeches of the descenders echo in your ear while you dream of an escape, remember the excitement of Earth’s consistent inconsistencies.