Cerro Negro Volcano
Cerro Negro Volcano

Cerro Negro Volcano

The basics

You won’t be able to visit León or Managua without hearing about volcano boarding—Cerro Negro is the only volcano in the world that you can sandboard down. Standing or sitting on a piece of plywood while sliding down the crater’s steepest part can clock speeds at nearly 37 miles (60 kilometers) per hour. Most travelers go volcano boarding via a guided tour, which typically includes gear such as jumpsuits and goggles. Less adventurous visitors can still hike the slope to gaze at panoramic views of Telica and San Cristóbal volcanoes from Cerro Negro’s peak.

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Things to know before you go

  • It’s wise to wear closed-toe shoes for hiking and to bring sunscreen, sunglasses, and bottled water.

  • The hike can take up to 1.5 hours and requires a moderate fitness level.

  • Cerro Negro is active and can erupt, though it is monitored frequently and local officials will likely close the site if seismic activity is detected.

  • If you choose to travel there on your own, be aware that there is no place to rent a board at the volcano.

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How to get there

You can schedule guided tours in advance or on the same day from cities like León, Managua, and Granada, though most leave from León, an hour’s drive from Cerro Negro. Most tour companies use either a private car, bus, or shuttle van. Alternatively, you can rent a car and drive; 4WDs are recommended as parts of the ride are bumpy.

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When to get there

Nicaragua’s wet season runs from the end of May to mid-November, so the best time to visit the country is during its dry season, from December to the beginning of May. Keep in mind that Cerro Negro has no tree cover, so plan your hike early in the morning to limit sun exposure.

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See the Asososca Lagoon

Nicaragua is known as the Land of Lakes and Volcanoes, so consider adding a stop at Asososca Lagoon Natural Reserve after your Cerro Negro hike. The reserve features hiking trails, including one that goes up Asososca Volcano, and crystal-clear waters that are perfect for swimming.

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