In one word-FUN!
Arguably one of the most popular tours in town, Volcano boarding Cerro Negro is not only fun, but it is quite exhilarating. With the last eruption in 1999, this volcano has erupted 23 times, with the first eruption occurring in 1850. So, it is safe to say that it is extremely active, and actually overdue for an eruption. Cerro Negro clearly stands out among the other volcanoes in the Maribios Volcano Chain, with Telica and San Cristobal (Two other active volcanoes in the region) covered by the fertile green landscape.
Most of the hike, (Which took about 1 hour at a medium pace, and stopping three times.) was over the loose black volcanic rock which covers the entire volcano. On the third leg of the hike on the way up, there were two small vents billowing sulfuric gas from the depth’s of the Volcano. At the top, if you put your hand to the ground, you will feel that it is extremely hot. It is even said that you can cook an egg on this substrate. Another detail worth mentioning was that it was extremely windy when we went. (End of March.)
It is highly advisable to go with a tour company that offers protective gear to wear. If you take a spill, your skin is no match for the basalt rock and gravel that you will no doubt be in contact with. This stuff is highly abrasive. I would also recommend bringing a bandanna to cover your mouth and nose, and if possible your ears. Most people wore sneakers or trail running shoes, that is all you really need.
The entire trip took about 7 hours. It is about one hour each way from Leon to the volcano, and the trip on the 4 wheel drive trucks needed to get to Cerro Negro is bumpy, but scenic. Our tour company also made a second trip down the volcano, and also provided us with lunch and water.