Leaving Tegucigalpa, the capital of Honduras, we crossed the border to Nicaragua. As soon as our bus arrived in our new country, we felt a different atmosphere in the streets. Everything was cleaner, people were busier, not so many sitting in front of their houses. All in all we felt much safer and more comfortable in Nicaragua, which is meant to be one of the safest country in Central America.
Leon was our first destination. It's very popular for tourism and a great location for trips to the nearby volcanoes. A lot of buildings and churches still have their colonial style and again you see a lot of colorful facades and doors. The first days in Leon golf ball BoB and we were quite lazy and spent some relaxing days in the hostel 'La Tortuga'. We had a big private room and in front of it a well equipped kitchen which animated us to cook our own food again. In Guatemala and also in Honduras you hardly find any hostels with kitchens. Usually they have an own restaurant and bar, or nothing.
On the third day we explored the streets of Leon and realized that it's not very big. Within a few hours we had already seen the main places and all the churches, that are very beautiful. The Cathedral of Leon is even the biggest in whole Central America. Stairs guide you to the top of the tower from where you are supposed to have a great view of the city. However, the day we went, it was too late and already closed. :( On our way back to the hostel we went to the office of 'Quetzaltrekkers' to book a MUST in Leon... a volcano boarding tour for the next day.
The new day started and we three we very excited about our today's adventure. At 10 am our group met at the 'Quetzaltrekkers' office and everybody was equipped with a body suit, gloves, goggles, and water. A pick up was already waiting for us outside and we all sat down on the truck bed. After a 45 minute drive on black gravel road we arrived at a house in the middle of nowhere. Here we got our simple wooden boards. Unfortunately they had no small one for BoB. He was very disappointed. But Lars decided to take him on his board so that they both can enjoy the trip together :)
From this place you could already see the pitch black volcano 'Cerro Negro', which was going to be 'our' volcano, and on top you could see some small orange points, moving like ants.
This view was already frightening!
A few minutes later the pick up took us closer to the volcano, parked, and we all got our boards and started climbing up. For us it was a hard hike in the heat of the sun and the black ash under our feet. BoB is very good in rolling down hills but climbing up is horrible to him. Lars didn't want to make him suffer anylonger and took him to the top. :) After one hour the group reached the top. On the way up and escpecially on the top we were all fascinated by the amazing view: We saw totally different vegetation, from very green to pure ash.
But the real highlight was still awaiting us... we put on our suites, lined up and the first one was already sitting on the board, ready to 'take off'. The Volcano is unimaginable steep and it's very difficult to steer the board and to stay on it. In the beginning we were quiet slow but then, at a certain point, you get faster and faster. Small stones and ash is flying through the air, bouncing on your goggles. You are full of adrenaline and trying to come down safely. After a few minutes you reach the bottom and you are soooo happy! :)
Later on, the pick up drove us back into town. In the evening we three still could not believe that we just boarded a volcano :)
BoB's travel tip for Leon, Nicaragua:
You find loads of hostels in Leon but we recommend 'La Tortuga' if you like it quiet and 'Bigfoot Hostel' if you prefer parties. As almost every hostel in Leon is located in the city center, and the city is not too big either, make sure you don't pay more than a dollar per person from the bus terminal to your hostel by taxi. Always keep in mind that the taxi driver gets commission from some of the hostels so you should always say you already have a reservation even if you don't. Otherwise they will drive you somewhere else.
If you are planing to make the volcano boarding tour, we highly recommend 'Quetzaltrekkers'. Every tour operator has the same rates but this one allows two runs down the mountain, you get free water and because they are working with volunteers most of your money is going to a good cause. Just one more tip: Don't forget your sunscreen!