There’s a place 11 miles east of the Pacific Ocean coast in Nicaragua called Leon where Bigfoot Hostel and Green Pathways Tours is situated. I had never heard of Leon, Bigfoot Hostel, or Green Pathways Tours before I happened to see it come up on a Google search.
I was looking to see what was going on in the snowboarding industry now that it’s spring in the northern hemisphere. I was scrolling down and then I see “volcano boarding.” Yeah, I didn’t believe it at first either. I actually had to look away and look again to make sure I saw it right, and that my new glasses were working properly. Naturally my curiosity was peaked to the max, so I had to look into this new up-and-coming extreme sport.
Phillip Southan at Bigfoot Hotel and Green Pathways Tours seems to do it all. He’s the current owner, manager, and guide. Southan hails from Barbados, but came to Nicaragua in 2005 to surf and do research. He fell in love with the place and came back every year afterwards. Soon, he found himself living in the area and worked as a guide, and then he became the owner.
So I got in touch and asked him some questions:
What’s the volcano that you slide down?
Cerro Negro (black hill) is Central America’s youngest volcano. It was born in 1850 and has been one of the most active volcanoes in Nicaragua. Cerro Negro is the most recent in a group of four young cinder cones in the central Maribios Range. The last eruption was in 1999.
When did someone first board down it?
How long have you been offering this to tourists?
We’ve been doing it for four years and have taken over 10,000 people on the tour.
How active is the volcano?
It’s very active. You can walk in to the crater with the volcano smoking when you’re on top.
Is it safe?
The biggest risk is the risk of getting scratches if you fall off.
How many times do the tourists get to go down in one trip?
Once. You hike 45 minutes to the back of the volcano.
How far down is the slide?
What boards do you use?
They’re constructed of plywood and metal bottoms with a formica strip. We have a full-time team that makes the boards in our workshop. Over the years we have tried hundreds of board designs and the boards we have now allow you to reach speeds of up to 80km/h.
How hot is it?
Nicaragua has a warm, tropical climate with temperatures never dropping below 20 degrees Celsius (68F) with averages above 25C (77F). At the hottest times of the year, temperatures can reach up to 40 degrees (104F).
How much is it?
$28 including the national park entrance. It’s 4.5hrs and the 4×4 transportation, guide, safety suits and googles, boards, and an ice cold mojito on your return is included.
For more info visit Bigfoot Nicaragua.