It’s crazy to think that there’s a volcano which consists not of lava but of mud and that you can go inside the crater of said volcano for a massage. But I guess it’s not that crazy cause this volcano exists and it’s a fairly popular tourist attraction that is advertised all over Cartagena. Volcan El Totumo (aka the Mud Volcano) is located about 50km northeast of Cartagena and is easily accessible by road. Tours to the Mud Volcano all include return transport and some will include lunch for an additional fee.
After changing into your swimming outfit, you walk up a surprisingly sturdy wooden staircase to the top of the volcano. Inside the crater are masseuses and other mud-loving tourists. One by one you climb down a ladder and lower yourself into the mud pit, which itself is reinforced by wooden beams to keep the crater opening intact.
And to be honest, once you’re in the mud it feels so friggin weird!
The pleasantly warm mud gives you a strange buoyancy. Even when you’re upright and try to push yourself down you can’t even though there’s nothing but mud underneath you. And regardless of height, everyone floats right at around nipple level. I’d love to know the science behind this nipple phenomenon.
To exit the crater, you climb up a (surprise!) muddy ladder and then one of the masseuses wipes the excess grey matter off your body. Then it’s a short but somewhat precarious walk down a set of stairs followed by a 3 minute barefoot walk to the lake where you get cleaned by a local woman. The massage in the crater is optional, but I’m not sure if you can self-clean yourself in the lake. The women seem pretty intent on making sure you go home without a grey complexion.
Visiting the Mud Volcano is definitely a unique and enjoyable experience which I would recommend to anyone. The cost for the afternoon tour, pictures, massage, and the lake cleanup set me back 40000 Colombian Pesos (~US$22). A small price to pay to be floating in mud.