On the second Friday of our trip, we spent our first full day in Nicaragua. Most of the group traveled to the Cerro Negro Volcano for ash boarding (while a couple of others went surfing). With the help of our tour guide and instructor, Danny, the group made the hour long drive from our hotel to the base of the volcano.
The Cerro Negro Volcano is the only place in the world where one can ash board. As a result of its distinctive and thrilling experience, it was listed at #2 on CNN’s list of “Big Thrills: 50 Ways to Be a Daredevil.” An eruption in 1999 left everything in the area covered with rocks and black ash. As the bus pulled into the parking lot, nothing stood between us and the steep slopes of fine, black, pebble-like ash. It is there where the real journey began.
(Group getting ready to climb volcano)
At a minimum, the hike to the rim of the crater takes 45 minutes and we were about to understand why. With our plywood boards, backpacks of gear, and water bottles in hand, we began the ascent. It came as a surprise to many of us that this climb would be no easy feat. The hot sun, awkward boards, boulders, and shifting ash, made the climb painstaking and exhausting; but the cool breeze and spectacular views, alone, were well worth it. After many rest stops, we made it to the top, where we spent a few minutes taking photos and putting on our gear. The gear included a jumpsuit, goggles, and thick gloves, which were cause enough to raise some concern about what we were getting ourselves into.
(Group at top of volcano – about to slide down)
Standing at the top of the ash boarding track one could not see the bottom because of the incline. But, our guide reassured us time and again that if we followed his instructions we would have no problems reaching the bottom safely. After a brief demonstration on the use of the board and a reiteration of how to properly control the speed of our descent, one by one each person took their turn. The entire experience takes about a minute to complete (a minute full of adrenaline and little pellets of ash flying towards you, making you very thankful for the excessive gear). The short run was well worth the effort! Everyone made it to the bottom (some faster than others). Happy, yet tired and covered in ash, we boarded the bus and headed back to the hotel.
By the time we got back it was almost dinner time, so everyone cleaned up and headed out into Leon to grab dinner and explore. It was a relaxing tourist town with a nice town square, cathedral, and restaurants. We spent the rest of the evening eating, laughing, sharing stories, and relaxing.
It was a day to remember in Nicaragua. We were daredevils, in one of the safest ways possible.
COBA Accounting & Finance Major
Class of 2016