Spa Day: Mud Bath in a Volcano

Posted by on Jan 26, 2012 in Colombia | 0 comments

Ben and I took a day trip from Cartagena to a remote jungle village to visit the Mud Volcano of Totumo.  The story, according to the backpacking circuit, is that the priest of the village noticed that the volcano was was about to erupt.  To prevent the volcano from destroying his village,he threw holy water into the volcano.  I guess just evacuating the village was not an option.  But thankfully the holy water worked.  The volcano never erupted and the inside of the volcano turned into a giant mud bath, a nice added perk.

I have to say I was less then impressed at the size of the volcano, even if it did erupt I had serious doubts that it had the capacity to take out a whole village even a small one.  It was about 50 feet tall and looked as if the villagers had built it themselves out of dirt and had then filled it with mud.

The not so mighty Mud Volcano of Totumo

There were two make-shift wooden staircases, one for climbing up the volcano and one for getting down.  Once we were at the top there was a platform.  We waited there until it was our turn to climb into the vat of gray soupy mud.

Going up.

View from the top of the volcano.

As we waited we watched the local men giving tourists mud massages. It looked kinda awkward. As soon as a tourist was in the volcano’s muddy pool, a local would grab them, lay them on their back and start massaging them.  If the tourist didn’t want a massage, which is $2USD, the tourist tells the local “No, gracias”.   The local then promptly flips the tourist back upright and pushes the tourist into the large group of other tourists threshing about at the other end of the pool.

Massage Therapy?

I was torn if I wanted a massage or not.  I wanted to enjoy the muddiness without being pushed into the pile of tourists.  But at the same time, I was not completely sold on the idea of some local feeling me up in muddy goo.

When I got in. The mud was slimy, thick and warm.  The mud gave me a buoyancy similar to anti-gravity and I immediately had no control of my body and slowing tipped over.  My toes straining to find the bottom without success.  A local quickly grabbed me and tipped me back. I decided that since I had no idea how to move in this stuff, I’d relax and let him do his thing. The message was nice and way to short.  I took out a few backpackers as my massage therapist pushed me into the others.

Mud people

At least I wasn’t the only accident prone one out of the group.All of us struggled not to crash into each other.  By the time Ben and I got to the ladder it was raining.  None of us stood a chance for a graceful exit.  All of us slipping and sliding everywhere, apologizing for our accidental run-ins on the stairway down.

More mud people.

Next we made our way through the village to the river to wash off the mud.The rocks were slippery and Ben had to hold me steady while we picked our path through the village.   At the river, there were local women waiting to wash us off with buckets and sponges.  Again you can say “No, gracies” if you don’t want a local woman to wash you.  A wash is around $2 USD. But the wash is something I suggest not to pass up. Even though it sounds a bit creepy and weird. These women are so nice and friendly.  I felt very comfortable, even when the women asked me to remove my bathing suit so she could wash it.  I kept my top on but gave her my bottoms. I was in the water so no one could seen anything even if I would have given her my top.

This experience was definitely out there and not one I think Ben and I would repeat.  Wallowing in a volcano full of mud one time is enough for a life time.  But I’m glad we both remained open minded enough to do it.

View of the village from the top of the volcano.


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