Look no further for a tour company. I booked tour boarding ahead of time with two different companies, and both cancelled without any warning.
The hostel was kind enough to call Hokano Adventures for us. "It's new, so we're not sure how it will be..." With only one day in Leon to explore, we figured it was worth a shot...and we ended up having spending the best day of our trip hiking up and boarding down Cerro Negro with Carlos as our guide.
Not only is Carlos passionate and knowledgable about his country: he is a genuinely kind-hearted, cool person. He's the type of local with a tale that will linger with you even more strongly than the tour itself.
Carlos picked us up at our hostel in his all-terrain jeep, and first drove us past fields of crops and ashen trees (singed by acid rain) to the iguana conservatory at the Cerro Negro park entrance. While he is unsure about the true motivations of the iguana owners (he believes that they may be selling most of the eggs on the black market), he let us explore a bit, and even captured an iguana for us to hold. Because of his extra effort to reel in the reptile, we got some of the best shots of the day each holding a huge iguana in our hands. (No animals were harmed in the making of the production...no worries :))
We proceeded on to Cerro Negro, and hiked up to the summit with our strips of plywood and metal for volcano boarding. While the hike was steep, it was pleasant, and the views of the pitch-black ash made it feel like we were walking on the moon. Carlos talked all the while in-depth about the politics, history, and culture of his country. He is a single, hard-working father who enjoys painting, taught himself to build his own website, and he has even started a volunteer-based English program in his community.
We proceeded to hike past a still-steaming crater, and though it started to rain and thunder, we still trudged onward to the top. I was quite terrified by the lightning, but he coached us in perfect English through the best technique to have the fastest, thrilling, safest ride down.
It was probably my favorite day in Nicaragua, and Carlos made it truly unique for us. I would reccomend Hokano Adventures, 100%, above any other tour company.
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