Feb 04, 2023 Last Updated 01:05 AM EST


Exploring Nicaragua’s Volcanoes: Volcano boarding transformed Nicaragua’s tourism

Nov 17, 2015 05:36 AM EST

Nicaraguan volcanoes are multi-functional as they don't just stand around erupting, they are now also getting popular for boarders. And now, volcano boarding is claiming its profound economic effects on a Central American city.

According to SOFTPEDIA, adrenaline enthusiasts have just turned the active volcano into the venue for a sports attraction. The new sport isn't all that complex. The boarders just have to ride  the plywood boards down the volcano slopes and it is now growing in popularity in Nicaragua. 

Cerro Negro is now known to be the home of volcano boarding. Some of these borders are throwing themselves down a 650m slope at an angle of up to 41 degrees while some do it surfer-style, standing up on the surf boards or planks of wood.

The extreme sport  began in 2003 when an Australian hostel owner in Leon thought that surfing could potentially work inland. After opposing the idea, the Nicaraguan government and tourism authorities have begun to embrace volcano boarding since it brings people to the area and the charge for accessing the volcano helps the place.

However, Europe Newsweek reports that volcano boarding at the Cerro Negro is not all that fun, knowing that it is recognized as the world's most-active cinder cone volcano and the youngest in Central America. It has also erupted 20 times with its last eruption in 1999.

The volcano has garnered the fourth spot as one of the most death-defying travel destinations in the world.  "Everything around here was destroyed," stated Flora Velasquez, a lifelong resident of Leon. She added, noting how the blast affected the locals, "We had nothing."

And now, 16 years after the eruption, the volcano has helped revitalize Leon as a bustling hub of adventure tourism. Cerro Negro has now become the top global destination for the dangerous activity called volcano boarding.

Every day, locals as well as guests from all over  the world, hike for about 45 minutes up the volcano with their plywood boards, suit of denim, thick gloves, and protective goggles. From the northwestern corner, tracts of green farmland on the outskirts of Leon where locals grow cassava are seen on the trail.

Volcano boarding has also emerged as a main attraction for adventurous tourists in Nicaragua and has made the economy of the city of Leon to rise. Ten years ago, around 5,200 foreigners visited León, according to the city's tourism office, but last year,  it increased more than 20,000 per year, as mentioned in  Outside Online.

But it's not just the tourism industry that benefits. In fact, a community cooperative called Cooperativa Pilas-El Hoyo manages a ranger station that collects entrance fees from tourists. The money collected is for the proceeds of local schools, potable water deliveries, and small-scale infrastructure projects. It is also helping raise funds for rehabilitation centers for the protected species, including the iguana.

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