While in Cartagena for a couple of days, I was wondering what to explore in the vicinity of the old colonial city. It turned out that it was possible to visit El Totumo, a mud volcano, which moreover allows for visitors to have a bath inside the crater, which seemed a good idea to me. It was easily arranged through an operator in Cartagena. After a short ride in the direction of Barranquilla, we arrived at what looked like a greyish hill. Since it was surrounded by stalls selling souvenirs and snacks, I assumed that we had arrived at the volcano itself.
A wooden staircase on one side of this perfect cone makes walking up to the summit of Totumo easy - this must be one of the easiest active volcanoes to climb in the world. Our driver tells us to leave everything behind and to walk up in a bathing suit, but of course I take my camera, too. Once on top, I find a kind of a mud pool in which several people are floating. After taking some shots, one of the masseurs gestures that I should take a dip myself. Strangely, I do not feel any restraints against stepping into a pool of mud. Or rather, a crater of mud in an active volcano, which reputedly is 2300 metres deep. It is not even easy to move in the thick, light grey mud, and one of the masseurs pulls me to a corner and starts to do his job on my skin. Not just my shoulders and sides, but he even manages to pay attention to my back as well. He pushes my head down, and I soon reach a moment in which I just close my eyes and let it all happen to me.
The sun is burning on my closed eyes, and since the masseur pushes my head always deeper in the mud, I don't hear anything, either. It is a most pleasant sensation, and the only downside is that there are no female masseuses... After a while, the masseur pushes me to the other side of the crater, and I open my eyes again. I soon realize that it was not easy at all to move around, and walking is obviously out of the question since the bottom of the crater is several thousand metres below you. The most interesting part of this unusual mud bath is that, since it is an active volcano, there are frequent mud bubbles coming up and popping open with a fat sound once they reach the surface. The only question is, how to get rid of the mud after you are sent out of the crater? You can walk down to the lagoon behind the Totumo volcano, where several women wait for you to rub off the mud, asking you to take of your clothes. Feeling refreshed and with a much healthier skin, I stepped into our minivan.
Personal travel impressions both in words and images from Totumo Volcano (Colombia). Clicking on the pictures enlarges them and enables you to send the picture as a free e-card or download it for personal use, for instance, on your weblog. Or click on the map above to visit more places close to Totumo Volcano.
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