As you might expect from a backpacker-friendly city with volcanoes, beaches and mangroves within striking distance, León is packed with tour operators. The headline activity is volcano-boarding, in which you’ll truck off to the ash-covered slopes of Cerro Negro early in the morning, spend a good hour slogging up its alien, gas-belching curves and then skid down on a board that generally moves at a fairly gentle pace despite the fierce gradient, although some boards are faster – and damp days can be especially quick. Almost every operator offers it – Quetzaltrekkers give you two runs (most operators only offer one), Bigfoot are allegedly the fastest and Va Pues offer some proper (if battered) snowboards.
Trips from León can also take in the wet ride through the canyon at Somoto, near the Honduran border, treks up the San Cristóbal and El Hoyo volcanoes, the ruins of León Viejo and more; and Spanish lessons can be arranged. Rates for excursions are a fairly standard US$30 per day, and are given on companies’ websites, though you may be able to haggle, especially with a larger group. The companies mentioned here are all established and reliable.
Bigfoot Tours 8917 8832, bigfootnicaragua.com. Fun firm mostly focusing on volcano-boarding and surf trips to Isla Los Brasile, though other trips can be arranged.
Green Pathways 2315 0964, greenpathways.com. Country-wide adventures, including turtle-watching and volcano-scaling.
Quetzaltrekkers 2311 6695, quetzaltrekkers.com. Friendly, reliable bunch offering volcano treks around the country, including a full-moon lava hike up Volcán Telica. All profits go towards supporting street children in León. Food and drink is included in tour prices.
Sonati 2311 4251, sonati.info. Relatively inexpensive non-profit-making company, operating from the hostel of the same name, whose volcano trips are supplemented by visits to the swamps of Isla Juan Verano and various birdwatching trips.
Va Pues 2315 4099, vapues.com. This moderately upmarket operator has country-wide tours, trips to local fincas and – of course – volcano-boarding.