Why should snowy destinations have all the downhill fun? Sandboarding has become a new adventure sport, where daredevils climb sand dunes, dusty slopes and ashy volcanoes to whiz down them at high speeds on special boards. The technique is similar to that of snowboarding, surfing and skateboarding, meaning you need a little balance, some controlled coordination and a lot of nerve. Get enough speed and talent, and you can start performing tricks like 360s, back flips, rodeos and switch blind 180s. However, most people simply slide down on their butts, toboggan style. Sandboarding slopes are becoming popular in the United States, France, Australia, Germany, South Africa, Japan, Peru and more. One of the most spectacular spots to experience this thrill is on Cerro Negro (which aptly means “black hill), an active volcano in Nicaragua. Check out this wild video and see what all the fun is about. Think you have the nerve to try it?
What you need to know about sandboarding on Cerro Negro
Cerro Negro is in the Cordillera de los Maribios mountain range of Nicaragua. It’s the youngest volcano in Central America, having first erupted in 1850. It’s gone off 23 times since then, most recently in 1999, and is covered in thick black ash and small lava pebbles. There is no vegetation on these volcanic slopes, making it an ideal inclined surface on which to slide down on a board (as long as that pesky active volcano thing doesn’t scare you away).
Anyone can try sandboarding here. You can arrange a day tour from Managua or Leon. A guide will give you a safety briefing and basic instructions prior to leading you on a hike up the volcanic mountain. Yep, sorry, they don’t have lifts or gondolas like ski hills do. If you want up there, you’re going to have to walk it yourself, step by step. It’s steep and slippery, so brace yourselves for a pretty arduous but doable one-and-a-half hour uphill slog. Bring plenty of water and snacks to fuel you along the way.
Up at 1,640 feet (500 meters) you’ll be able to enjoy panoramic views of the Telica and San Cristobal volcanoes and the surrounding area. The views are just a bonus. The real reason to be here is for the thrill of sliding down. You can opt to sit on the board like a sled, or strap on and try it from a standing position, snowboard style. It’s up to you. Expect a few wipe-outs and some really dirty clothes at the end of it. Most tour groups provide protective coveralls in anticipation of a fall. That raspy volcanic gravel can do a number on your skin.