About 30 miles outside of Cartagena lies the Volcan de Totumbo, where you can bathe in a mud pool inside the crater of a small volcano, while getting yourself a massage. We were intrigued.
a dirt mound!
After getting changed, we walked up the steps up the side of the volcano and climbed in. Once we'd got inside, a massage from one of the locals was immediately on the cards and so we just laid back to enjoy the relaxing experience.
After our massage, we were left to float around in the mud, which was an incredibly weird sensation. It is possible to suspend yourself vertically by making yourself as straight as you can and pointing your toes. And you don't sink! However, as soon as you get slightly off balance, before you know it you will find yourself tipping over and floating on your back or front.
After a half an hour or so of being suspended in thick grey goo, it was time to climb out and be washed down by the local women in the nearby lagoon.
The ladies certainly weren't shy - they practically stripped us off to scrub us down and clean off all the mud from various body crevasses.
James and his washer lady got on particularly well!
Some practicalities and things to note
Tours run regularly from the hostels in Cartagena or you can hire a taxi to get there by yourself. If you do go with a tour group it can get quite busy.
Other travellers reported to us that the volcano got overcrowded, that they were rushed through and not given enough time to enjoy the experience. While there were quite a lot of people in the pool of mud with us, we didn't feel as through we were being rushed and had plenty of time in the volcano.
We were told on our way out to the volcano that the massage and the wash down were optional and that we didn't have to have either, although a tip would be expected for both. In reality, the massage starts practically as soon as you climb in and so you may as well relax and enjoy it. Similarly, you may as well as let the women wash you down as its quite hard to get all the mud off without any help. And the tips expected for both of these things are quite minimal.
Also, if you take a camera, for a small tip, one of the locals will take your picture from the top of the volcano.