How I Spent My 33rd Birthday

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Cerro Negro is the youngest active volcano in Central America and its popularity stems from an activity just over a decade old.

Arriving in Leon, you cannot help but notice that the city is plastered with signs offering volcano boarding.

The story is that when an Aussie hostel owner, who grew up sandboarding, saw the slopes of Cerro Negro he realized it had potential.

Now hoards of backpackers flock to Leon to sit on a piece of plywood pimped with Formica to jet down the side of the volcano.

Nicaraguan Food

Although I had been in Leon three weeks I still hadn’t done it and I couldn’t think of a better way to celebrate my birthday than barreling down a mountain.

It’s an easy 45 minute hike to the top with, thankfully, many stops along the way. When I realized we had to carry own on boards I was a bit worried I’d feel like the slow piggy up the volcano as I had been while climbing Pacaya.

But it seems that stubbornness always prevails as I was not the last up the mountain; I was actually the first girl. Mr. Bacon was very proud.

15 DELICIOUS: Nicaraguan Desserts

Our guide explained to us how to drive the board by placing our feet down lighting to steer or slow down and warned us not to instinctively put our hands down as they the rocks would shred our skin.

As I sat on the board I looked up at the guide and told him I was afraid, when he asked me ‘of what’ I realized I didn’t have an answer and set off down the hill.

Slightly reminiscent of tobogganing, it was fast and furious and somehow I made it down without wiping out like the guys before me.

I think it may have been because my body, gripped with fear, remained so rigid that I went down completely straight.

Toward the bottom I slowed down a bit but still managed to clock 27 miles/hour, far off from the record of 82 but still the fastest time for the girls.

It took me less than a minute to go down but the memories remained as I spit out little pieces of rock from my mouth and pulled pebbles out of my hair for days.

At the bottom I took this video of our guide coming down at 75 miles/hour.

Evening birthday celebrations to be continued in the next post

Join the Conversation

  1. What a great way to celebrate a birthday!
    That looks like a fun thing to do, looks like it’s going pretty fast too!

  2. So impressed with your video skills….would have liked to see a video of you!

  3. Dustin Main - Skinny Backpacker says:

    I’ve ‘skated’ down the sides of volcanoes before, but I’m really looking forward to tobogganing down one in Central America next year.

    Thanks for the video too! I want to go that fast πŸ™‚

  4. Hey,

    I’m also Canadian and recently spent mine in Lagos, Portugal. For some reason celebrating abroad seemed better than anything that could have gone down back home. Keep enjoying the world.

  5. I’m thinking a pair of gloves should come with the jumpsuit

  6. That is such an awesome Bday present to yourself!!! I would love to do that some day. Fun fun!

  7. I can’t believe I saw you so close to your birthday — happy birthday! I’m four months older. πŸ˜‰ My heart is racing just thinking about doing this. AWESOME. I’m sending to Denise and the gang!

  8. Haha, what fun, even in the boiler suits! Happy Birthday!

  9. This is how I spent my 31st b-day last Feb! I also had the fastest time in my group. Although that was after I flipped the board once…oops!

    And you’re right about the Aussie-creator story; I interviewed that guy last year. πŸ˜‰

  10. That looks amazing! I definitely need to hit that up when I get a chance. Is it seasonal or all year? πŸ™‚

  11. ayngelina says:

    It’s all year round, I know some people who did it in the rain and said it was still a blast.

  12. Matt Hope says:

    The boarding looks awesome! You are going to have to give me some tips on Nicaragua as it looks like I’ll be heading there in December!

  13. That looks amazing, I want to play!

  14. Is that the same suit you and Jacob wore during that simulated skydive in NZ? You guys look so great in Orange..

    1. Ayngelina Author says:


      Nope if you recall our suits were blue with an orange stripe, maybe this will refresh your memory:

  15. My Bad – you were totally in Blue. Jump suits are clearly your thing though.

  16. Michael Hodson says:

    Love it!! And I’m jealous, not just for how to spent your birthday, but also because you are a decade younger than me πŸ˜›

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      @Michael well if it counts we’re all immature at heart

  17. Pingback: Leon, Nicaragua - The day we boarded down a volcano | Globetrottergirls travel Central America | Globetrottergirls
  18. Philip Johnson says:

    Glad you enjoyed the volcano boarding so much. I did it and really didn’t get much out of it, but it was raining when we were there and apparently that makes the whole sliding thing kind of hard (no one bothered to tell us that before we left).

    I really wanted to do one of the longer volcano hikes with Quetzatrekkers; i worked with their sister organisation in Bolivia.

    Which organisation did you go with?

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      I wanted to go with Quetzal but it was low season so they never had enough people interested so I went with Big Foot Hostel which apparently has the best boards as they replace the formica every day.

  19. Philip Johnson says:

    I went with Big Foot too. They were very professional but we only had the chance to do one round of boarding. I’d heard that Quetzal (aside from having the best ethical cred) gives you time for two rounds of boarding, so you can really let go on the second, fearless attempt…

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      Yeah but you have to walk back up!

  20. Philip Johnson says:

    Ha ha very true, but really for me the volcano bit was far more interesting than the boarding. I guess I was on the wrong tour, but there were no other volcano treks leaving while I was in LeΓ³n. What were you doing there for so long (by most backpacker standards)?

  21. At the bottom we walked back to the truck and ate Volcano Burritos that had been freshly cooked inside the volcano itself!

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