On my second day in León, my two Swedish friends and I decided to do the volcano boarding trip organised by Big Foot Hostel. It’s pretty much one of the main things ‘to-do’ in León and even though we were all a little nervous about it (sliding down an active volcano…wtf?!), we decided it was a good way to celebrate Sophie’s birthday! At 1pm the bus left from Big Foot and a group of about ten backpackers made our way in the back of a truck up to Cerro Negro, the active volcano that we were soon to slide down on top of a wooden board! The drive to the volcano was pretty rocky through mango groves but we finally made it after about 45 minutes and stopped off at the entry to the grounds of the volcano where we had to pay a small entry fee and got to watch our guide chase a few iguanas around the place (there was a small iguana farm there. No idea.)
We were given bags with our orange jumpsuits that we had to wear on the way down the mountain to protect our clothes, and the boards were handed out. The wooden boards looked kind of like little sleds and we were told that the Australian guy that ‘invented’ the sport, initially tried out the volcano boarding with various objects such as fridge doors and car doors. We were certainly glad that they didn’t use them anymore because the wooden boards were heavy enough to carry up the steep volcano in that heat! It was a bit of a slog but we made it up eventually, where we were able to peer into the smoking crater but not go any further in (a very recent health and safety rule!). The guides from Big Foot were really nice and took photographs all along the way which was nice as I had decided not to bring my camera after the Irish couple I met in Guatemala told me their digital camera was destroyed by the volcanic ash up there!
We had a quick demonstration of how to do it, what not to do (don’t put your hands out to stop you or slow you down as you’ll tear the skin off yourself; if you are going to fall off the board, let it go and cover your face, lest you get a 10lb wooden board to the mouth, etc), and then we were divided into two groups and started to go down the volcano one by one! I have to say, it seemed VERRRY steep standing at the top of the volcano peering over the edge, and I was feeling quite nervous! But when it came to my turn and I took off down the volcano, it didn’t seem that bad at all! When you get to the end of the volcano, you have to jump up quite quickly unless you want the next boarder plowing into the back of you and your board! We heard afterwards that a girl had actually fractured vertebrae in her back because she didn’t get up quickly enough, and her boyfriend was the culprit…ouch!
Once everyone had made it safely (almost, there were a few cut up hands!), we took a group photo and boarded the truck again where a celebratory free Toña beer was enjoyed and much appreciated! When we arrived back at Big Foot Hostel, we were also given a free mojito and then the drinking games commenced! It was a great trip overall, highly enjoyable and even though we were a bit unsure of its title as #2 on CNN’s “thrill seekers bucket list”, it was well worth it! I heard reports from some guys who had done the same trip with another tour group ‘Quetzaltrekkers’ and they didn’t have as much fun so I would definitely go with Big Foot! The trip cost $30 in total and we were out from 1pm until 5pm or so, plus a couple more hours of drinking games at the hostel. Great value! Remember to bring LOTS of water and suncream, it is hot up on that there volcano.