Cerro Negro: the youngest volcano in Central America
Cerro Negro is located 25 kilometers northeast of León. It is the youngest volcano in Nicaragua, even in Central America. Cerro Negro, which means Black Hill, was born in April 1850 and has been such an active volcano at its infancy age. It normally erupts flowing lava that consists of up to 6% water contents and tephra at ash size so that the magnitude of its explosion is raging. The cinder cone volcano is 728 meters tall at the moment, 500 meters taller than its 1968 eruption. Since its birth, Cerro Negro has erupted about 23 times, with 1999 eruption being the most recent one.
Ascending Cerro Negro is not exactly an easy task. The volcano is very steep and rocky and some hikers say that three steps up to the top is a two steps back. But the one-hour hard work will be adequately rewarded as climbers get to the summit and see the breathtaking scenery before their eyes. Telica and San Cristóbal Volcanoes can be seen from Cerro Negro as well as the smoky magnificent crater of Cerro Negro itself. However, beware of stinging insects at the top. They are not particularly friendly with a tendency of being aggressive towards visitors. An insect repellant will be useful to take to this volcano.
Contrary from the difficult ascending phase, descending Cerro Negro is easy, fast and so much fun. The steep slopes help a quicker journey down in about less than 10 minutes. One side of Cerro Negro has volcanic sand where some hikers take advantage of by doing thrilling sand boarding to go back down. The extreme sport that was born on exactly this very Cerro Negro gains a lot of interests from adventurous tourists and many Volcano Boarding packages are created to accommodate this fun activity. People can sit or stand on the board and just slide down and get back to where they started within minutes. Prices range from $28 to $100 depending where you start and they normally include entrance fees, transport, boards, fruits and a guide. Sand boarding is definitely a not-to-miss opportunity when you are on Cerro Negro.
The volcano is one of Nicaragua protected areas. Therefore an entrance fee of US$ 3 is applied to foreigners and C$ 20 to locals. The best time to go there is as early as possible in the morning. The heat can be excruciatingly painful in Cerro Negro so earlier start is obviously better. Don't forget to bring a sun block, as the sun is not your friend when climbing this black volcano. This also means you will need to stay the night in León before departing for the volcano. There are plenty tour agents in the city that offer interesting packages to climb Cerro Negro. You can take one of these packages to eliminate some worries of getting lost as a guide is usually provided.
Due to the hard climb up, visitors are expected to be in a good shape. Bring enough water and hire a guide to show you the best way to get to the summit. Also wear good hiking shoes as the rocks could be sharp and painful. With the right equipment to bring and determination to enjoy the worldly view of Cerro Negro, hiking the volcano will be such a satisfying and exhilarating experience.