Volcano Sledding in Nicaragua:
A Thrill Like No Other
Imagine hiking up an active volcano with a wooden board strapped to your back as you ascend over 2,000 ft. of loose rock. Doesn’t sound like much fun. But what if after reaching the top of the black mountain, you were able to sit on that little piece of plywood and race down one of Earth’s most spectacular formations at speeds reaching up to 60 mph? Well, that changes everything.
The Need for Speed
Cerro Negro, a newborn in geological terms, is located in Leon, Nicaragua, and is the youngest volcano in all of Central America. Its 23 eruptions have paved the ideal terrain for volcano boarding, which has been around for more than a decade thanks to creator Daryn Webb whose first descent down the soot-colored mountain was on a mini fridge from a hotel bar, then a mattress and later, a front door. Though it appears that none of those vessels proved sturdy enough for his high-velocity plummets, Webb fearlessly persisted until finding the best mode of transportation for his wild pastime: a wooden board with a metallic sheet underneath it.
Since then, thousands of adrenaline junkies have traveled to Nicaragua to fulfill the ultimate dream of replacing water and snow with basalt—the latter less forgiving if you fall. And the fact that Nicaragua is the only place in the world where adventurers can hike up an active volcano only to valiantly plunge down its sultry, steep slope gives this emerging sport an exclusivity incomparable to any other. So much so that CNN ranked volcano boarding number two on its “50 fun but terrifying experiences” list, losing out to being a jet fighter pilot for a day.
Conquering the Black Hill
Should the intense hike, exhilarating ride down or bragging rights be insufficient for you to risk the possibility of your perfectly tanned face having an abrasive encounter with igneous rock, the dreamy views awaiting you at the “launch zone” of the ridge might. From the top of The Black Hill you’ll be able to see the beautiful city of Leon, bordering the glimmering Pacific. Moreover, you’ll have the unique opportunity to stare directly into an active volcano’s crater while touching the blistering bedrock beneath your feet – although the right to boast will likely be enough.
Coffee with a side of volcano
Mombacho Volcano Nature Reserve is home to Mombacho, one of Nicaragua’s most popular basaltic pyramids. Located only 10 km from the country’s famous colonial city of Granada and at 1344 meters in height, it’s home to several exotic animals, plants and coffee plantations. Café Las Flores is one of Nicaragua’s finest coffee companies. Its plantation, Hacienda El Progreso, is located on the slopes of the majestic Mombacho, making it one of the premiere eco-tourist destinations. If you’re up for a hike and aren’t afraid of Nicaragua’s relentless heat, the coffee tour of the hacienda will give you an unforgettable hands-on experience.
During the two-hour tour, your tour guide will teach you the history of Nicaragua’s coffee industry. Beginning with roaming around rows of trees that showcase the cherries that are handpicked and later turned into the caffeinated beverage, participants of the tour are taught how to process, dry, roast and brew the magical beans. Besides seeing the labor that goes into making a good cup of coffee, the tour highlights their company’s nature-friendly agricultural practices and how that in turn positively impacts the local community. If you have extra time, you can enjoy a delicious lunch right on the plantation, which offers authentic Nicaraguan cuisine. For dessert you can cool off and re-energize by ordering a FLOR DE CAÑA RUM INFUSED GOURMET iced coffee, one of the company’s most popular signature blends. And if that first sip of coffee gave you a much-needed energy boost, you can opt to continue up the volcano up until you reach the famous Cloud Forest and thank the coffee Gods for your cafecito from the clouds.
Spa treatments with a side of chocolate
For any chocolate lover, a chocolate themed hotel is something out of dreams. Luckily for them, Granada, Nicaragua, has made their dreams a reality. Mansion de Chocolate is a boutique hotel housed in the largest surviving colonial mansion of Granada, located smack in the center of the city. Some of the perks of staying there include a 60-foot swimming pool, five beautiful gardens and, most importantly, a chocolate museum and spa. The ChocoMuseo allows chocolate fiends to learn the history of cocoa while crafting their very own chocolate drinks and chocolate bars—all from scratch.
Should drinking chocolate not be enough, chocoholics can overdose on cocoa by indulging in chocolate spa treatments. A choco facial promises a smooth face through the use of cacao-based formulas, while a choco mani/pedi allows you to literally have chocolate at your fingertips. Whatever your preference is, you can almost guarantee you’ll be sugared out when you’re done with
This is proof that despite its appearance of having so little, Nicaragua offers so much.