What’s a crazy romantic way to spend a morning of a wedding anniversary? How about a mud bath inside a volcano? Sounds a bit radical but that was how we started our celebration during our anniversary trip in Colombia, and it turned out to be one of the highlights of our trip.

An easy 45-minute drive from Cartagena, El Tutomo Volcano in the municipality of Santa Catalina is popular among locals and tourists for its therapeutic mud bath.

Local legend has it that El Tutomo was once an actively wrathful volcano spewing lava, fire and ashes. Believed that the volcanic rage was caused by the devil,  a priest appeased El Tutomo by sprinkling it with holy water and transformed the molten lava into a mineral-rich healing mud.

Mud-Bath-in-El-Tutomo-Volcano-ColombiaStanding at 50 ft. tall, the volcano was much smaller than we imagined. The more we appreciated our decision to time our visit before the arrival of large tour groups from Cartagena. This volcano is notorious for being crowded.

Mud Bath inside El Tutomo Volcano, ColombiaThe crater of the volcano is accessed via steep wooden stair steps.

View from El Tutomo Volcano, ColombiaThe view of the lagoon and the surrounding stalls as we climbed up the stairs.

Mud Bath inside El Tutomo Volcano, ColombiaFrom the top of the volcano, we had to descend via shaky ladder to get into the muddy crater.

04c-Mud Bath in El Tutomo Volcano, Colombia.jpgAs we stepped off the ladder, we floated on the mud with such ease!  Just like our experience in the Dead Sea, we found that we cannot sink in this volcano!  As we floated dreamily, the attendants splattered us up with mud. (One of the attendants was holding our camera and snapping these photos.)

Mud Bath inside El Tutomo Volcano, ColombiaThen the attendants started massaging us with gentle strokes…on out feet, the calves, the thighs, the abs…

Mud Bath inside El Tutomo Volcano, Colombia…then they asked us to go vertical so they can massage our shoulders, backs and heads. It was not your kind of luxurious spa massage but pleasant enough. It lasted for a good 30 minutes… which was long as we learned that it lasts for only 3 minutes if you were there during a crowded time.

Mud Bath inside El Tutomo Volcano, ColombiaThen we floated for a good half-hour more. Enjoying this small volcano all to ourselves was such a nice treat.  The mud felt comfortable and very silky and didn’t smell sulfuric at all.  It was very relaxing. And our skins did feel smooth afterwards.

Mud Bath inside El Tutomo Volcano, ColombiaAfter the mud bath, we were led to a lagoon where we were met by women who poured buckets of water over us to cleanse the mud off.  They meant serious cleansing!  To our surprise, they yanked out our bathing suits off us, washed the mud off and helped us put them back on. Whew!

Relaxed, cleansed and changed, we refreshed with fresh coconut juice at one of the stalls.. and then  the tour vans started coming one by one…..
Mud Bath in El Tutomo Volcano, ColombiaAs we were leaving, we got curious as to how the scene was on top of the volcano with five van-loads of people. We climbed up and saw a lot of people waiting to get into the crater mud.

Mud Bath inside El Tutomo Volcano, ColombiaWe looked down and saw that it was a very crowded affair…..a party we were happy not to be part of.

We then headed back to Cartagena to continue our celebration in a more traditional way – luxurious spa treatment at our hotel, champagne by the pool and a romantic dinner.  We did enjoy them all but we say that the mud bath was a truly unique and special experience.

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Travel Notes:

  • We arranged for a private car service through our hotel in Cartagena for a cost of about US$100,  That is about equivalent to the cost of joining a tour group for the two of us.
  • We arrived at the site before 9 am. The tour groups start arriving at 10:30 am.
  • The entrance fee is $2 per person.
  • Bring small change to tip the volcano attendants.  Recommended tip is at least $1.50 for the masseurs, for the attendant who hold your camera and take your photos, and for the women who bathe you in the lagoon. Since we were in the volcano longer than usual, we tipped the masseurs  double.
  • Don’t bring any valuables with you. We only brought point and shoot camera.

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Taking you on our journey one photo - and footstep - at a time.

8 responses to “Colombia: Mud Bath Inside El Tutomo Volcano

  1. I love the things you to come up with to celebrate anniversaries and life itself. Here’s wishes for many more years of adventures together! xxxx

  2. Do you watch Amazing Race? They went here recently (if not this season, it was the one previous), where the contestants had to soak into the mud and locate the gemstone.
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  3. Ruth

    Who took the photos? They look very cool! Your faces are priceless. For my honeymoon, I went to Belize. We went inside a cave, explore Mayan ruins and made a day trip to Guatemala. My friends thought I was nuts. So, I understand why you included the volcano as part of your wedding anniversary.

  4. What a weird and wonderful thing to do to celebrate your anniversary. Thank goodness you had the bath to yourselves!

  5. Wow, that’s quite a special experience :) I did a similar thing in the domenican republic. They said you’re skin should get veeeery smooth from the mud …

  6. Bama

    Lucky you to have arrived there before it got too crowded — the muddy crater actually looks very small. Do you know what happens if multiple groups arrive at the same time? Do they have to wait and take turns? Or is there any regulation limiting visitor number? Anyway, as unconventional as it is, it still looks like a very pleasant experience.
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  7. Monette villaraza

    Wow ☺Maricor truly a unique and different kind of thing as you two celebrated your wedding anniv.So happy to learn another journey of your life.God bless you both .Stay in love ❤always fir the glory of God @

  8. I’ll definitely keep this in mind when I go to Colombia next year! Good tip about arriving early. You certainly had the whole thing to yourselves. And it isn’t expensive no?

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