Boarding with No boarding pass in Le贸n

No Boarding pass for Volcano boarding in Le贸n

Boarding an actual active volcano got to be in your most wanted list of activities to do. If you like speed and excitement and at the same time something different, than volcano boarding is absolute a must do. The only place where you can board a volcano is near聽 Leon city in Nicaragua. The Cerro Negro is the name of the still active volcano and the fact that it’s still active just adds to the excitement of climbing it and sliding it down.
It erupts about every 20 years and the last time was in 1999, so it’s possible it can still erupt this year as it has been 20 years already. I was lucky it didn’t happen the day I climbed it.

Ready for boarding

on the edge ready for take off

The Cerro Negro is about 45 minutes drive from Leon and at the entrance of the park where you pay the entrance fee, you can also rent a board that comes with a sack with pants, gloves, scarf and goggles in it. So if you go there by yourself like I did, not with any hostel or agency which charge you more, it is possible to get your gear at the Cerro Negro park. Make sure you check your board for bumps, I had a little bump in mine at the bottom and asked for another one with no bumps and with a good metal layer on the bottom, all these details are important of you want to get good speed when you will be sliding down.
First you need to hike up to the summit of the volcano carrying your 7kg boarding board on your back. It makes the hike up a bit harder because of the extra weight, but at the end the effort is very rewarding and no way that after this effort I would have second thoughts and back out the lastminute boarding it down after seeing the steep edge.

going down

almost down

feeling the heat of the volcano

Cerro Negro Active volcano

Finally ready for boarding. You don’t need a boarding pass 馃檪
You sit at the very end of the board, keep your feet next to the board in the ground, it will make it easier to brake if you feel you are going down to fast, and hold the rope in front of you very tight to control the board and your balance. Don’t forget to put a scarf in front of your mouth and the goggles on your eyes, so little stones wont get in to your mouth or eyes.

The City of Le贸n

Le贸n is a colonial city and maybe the most authentic one of Nicaragua. Le贸n was just like Granada a former capital of Nicaragua before the honour went to Managua, which is the capital and biggest city of Nicaragua untill this day. Le贸n however is the second largest city of the country, the birthplace of Ruben Dario the famous poet of the country and Central America.聽 It looks a bit similar to the city of Antigua in Guatemala, with the volcanoes that are visible from different parts of the city. The narrow streets with the style of the houses and many churches makes it a typical Central American city.

The Assumption Cathedral is the most famous landmark in Le贸n, from all churches it’s the most famous for its white rooftop.
When it’s a hot day and sun shines brightly the rooftop is unreal white, you better have sunglasses on, unless when it’s a rainy day like when I went than it’s not necessary to have sunglasses on as the white roof is less bright.
From the rooftop you have a great view over the city and it’s surrounding area, you can see the other churches where they are located, the volcanoes in short distance and the square down below where the daily life of locals takes place.

at the square in front of the Cathedral

 

Assumption Cathedral

overlooking Le贸n from the rooftop of the Cathedral

walking on the rooftop

View over other churches in the City, this colorfoul church is the El Calvario church, with volcanoe behind in the distance

El Calvario church

Recolleccion church, so yellow facade

San Francisco church

San Juan church

selling flowers on mother’s day

Places to visit around聽Le贸n

  • The San Jacinto hotsprings

About 18 km Northeast of Le贸n in the town San Jacinto, there is this field with boiling mud pots, steam coming out of the holes in the ground. There is a path clearly marked between colored stones, so you know where to walk. You can go off the path but it’s best you have someone with you who knows the dangerous places in the ground where it’s boiling hot, cause once you go off the path it’s not marked where it’s dangerous and where it’s safe to walk.
There are hot spots on the surface that you can’t see
Local kids will be more then happy to guide you around to urn a dollar, cause they know exactly where to walk.
Visiting this place is very cheap, only 2 usd at the entrance boot.

San Jacinto Hot Springs

boiling mud

local girl observing if I’m going the right way

the safe path between the stones

The entrance boot where you buy the entry ticket

steam rising over the field

  • Rum Tasting at the Flor De Cana Rum factory

About 1 hour drive from Le贸n, heading in the direction of the biggest volcano in Nicaragua the San Cristobal, there is a rum Distillery and museum of one of the best, maybe the best rum in the world, Flor De Cana.The San Cristobal Volcano is actually on the label of every bottle of the brand. Never have I had rum before in my life, but this rum tasting tour was really worthed.聽 First the guide at the site gave a tour on how they make the barrels where the rum is kept in, it’s almost as if you doing a studio tour in Universal studios, the same kind of buggies drive you around the complex.

San Cristobal volcano, the biggest in the country

Flor De Cana Tasting roomOnce you know the history behind the making of you actually get to taste it. I tasted a Rum that was 12 years old and one that was 7 years old, you clearly can taste the difference in quality, after a short movie about how it all started with this Rum, a last stop is being made at the museum with giftshop which is in the shape of a giant barrel. There again it’s possible to try a few shots for free of some younger rum. All the different kinds of Flor De Cana rum that I tasted where good. I can recomend this tour to everyone who likes a little taste of alcohol.

giant barrel rum museum

the text on the wall says it all

barrels that need to undergo a control to see if they are no airholes

special wood being used for the barrels

free聽 rum shots at the giftshop

all kinds of gadgets with the brand name on it

Flor De Cana bottles on display

Flor De Cana tasting room

different bottles in the underground tasting room

 

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Managua you are beautiful

First off all let me start with all these losers on聽tripadvisor聽who write shit about Managua. Classic example is “Make your way directly to聽L茅on聽or Granada, cause Managua is a dangerous dodgy city you want to get out of there asap”
or how about this example “After we landed at the airport we聽immediately聽got out of Managua to Leon. Managua is a dangerous city you don’t want to stay in”
You聽immediately聽got out of Managua, then how on earth can you have any聽creditable聽opinion about this City ?
Well I’m different and I stayed in Managua,聽more than聽1 night.

 

Plaza De La Revolucion

 

Managua is just underrated and wrong information by some聽travelwriters聽is being spread聽online and is leading聽its own聽damn way.
Managua is a busy city like any capital city and yes at night you have聽to be聽carefull in any big city , even in Brussels Belgium where I spend most of my days.

I Visited a big market place where people sell their stuff and never did I feel unsafe.
People don’t run after you trying to sell their stuff, they always friendly,聽more friendly than聽the people I met in Costa Rica. See the difference in my writing ? I said “the people I met” so maybe the friendly people in Costa Rica where not around when I was there.

Managua is聽beautiful

Why? Because I actually liked what I saw in the city, it’s very alive and a positive thing is that you will be one of the few tourists visiting the city, since no tourists want to stay there for a reason they probably don’t even know. A Capital city next to a huge lake, not Lake Nicaragua as that Lake is further away but Lake Managua also named after the Capital , it all makes sence.

So what did I do in Managua ? Well I visited Plaza de la聽revolucion聽with the big flagpole, the聽palacionacional, the Santiago Cathedral, the big Augusto聽Sandino聽monument on聽Tiscapa聽hill,聽metropolitana聽Cathedral and the trees of Life at Lake Managua. The trees of life are everywhere in the streets of Managua there is no escaping it, it’s a project of first lady Murillo, let’s say its unique but not everybody is a fan of these big structures.

 

Palacio Nacional

Big Nicaraguan flag on the Revolution Square

Old Managua Santiago Cathedral on Revolution square

Monument that explains the history of Nicaragua through the images above

Monument of the famous Nicaraguan poet Ruben Dario

Trees of Life

Sandino Monument on Tiscapa Hill

View on Managua and Lake Managua from Tiscapa Hill

Roosevelt Monument Tiscapa Hill

Metropolitana Cathedral

Inside the Metropolitan cathedral a statue of Polish Pope John Paul II

Pope John Paul II square

Pope John Paul II plaque

Pope John Paul II even has it’s museum in Managua

 

Going for a swim in Laguna De Apoyo

About 43 km from Managua you can go for a swim in Laguna De Apoyo, it’s a natural sweet water lagoon in a volcanic crater. Many locals come here for the weekends for a break and spend a whole day or afternoon escaping the busy city. I was here on a monday and had the lake almost for myself. Besides some locals it was really not crowded at all. The water temperature is about 28 degrees and fees very warm.
again a special place, cause there are not many places in the world where you can swim in a crater of a sleeping volcano.

It’s possible to eat and drink at the spot so no need to bring any food with you. It’s not allowed anyways, but they don’t check , however the prices are cheap so there is no reason to bring your own drinks. Great place to have a relaxing day and just chill.

Ready to swim in the Lagoon

Apoyo crater Lake

diving platform

Laguna De Apoyo

 

 

Colonial beauty Granada and Masaya Volcano

The most famous landmark in Granada will be its Yellow Catherdal with red dome, very nice from any spot in the city you look at, it just stands out. The best spot is when you go up the bell tower of the Iglesia la Merced, from this bell tower you not only have the postcard view on the cathedral but also on the other churches in Granada and the surrounding volcanoes in the distance.

I decided to do a horse carriage tour to see the rest of Granada and I have to say it has many churches but also other colonial buildings, an old abandoned railway station which is now a museum, a fortress which for some reason is closed to the public for years and many restaurants that serve local food.

Granada Cathedral

Here I am in front of Iglesia La Merced with the Bell Tower

View from the Bell Tower over Granada’s Cathedral

Xalteva church and the blue Maria Auxiliadora church in the distance

Colonial building next to the Cathedral

another picture of me with the most famous Cathedral of Central America

Central Plaza

Horse carriage tour

The old railway station

The Guadaloupe church

Polvora Fortress

 

From Granada you can do excursions to the Masaya volcano which is one of the most active volcanoes in the world where you can see the lava.
You drive into the national park to the parking which is just in front of the Volcano crater.
The best is to visit it in the evening when the sun goes down and when the night falls in, that’s when the glowing yellow and red colors are just incredible to watch.
The volcanic magma is really spectacular, to look into the crater and see what’s going on down there, the cracking noise it makes as another piece of rock falls down into the lava.

Masaya National Park

Selfie at the Masaya Volcano

Masaya Volcano in action

Masaya volcano at night glowing

Another fun thing to do while you in Granada is to take a boat tour to visit the little isletas (Islands) at Lake Nicaragua.
There are many little Islands with wildlife. I saw some monkeys in the trees observing me on my little boat while I was taking a picture of them.
There are also people living on some of these Islands and the boat stopped at some locals house and I took my time to go for a swim in the famous Lake Nicaragua.

Lake Nicaragua seen from Granada shore

 

Isletas boat tour

The small Isletas in Lake Nicaragua

curious monkey

Lake Nicaragua people fishing

houses on some of the Islands