(this is considered very crowded, by the way)
On the Atlantic Coast, between Barranquilla and Cartagena, on the border of the Atlántico and Bolívar departments, one can find a dirt road that leads off the highway. After a quick drive down the road, there lies the Totumo Volcano, also called the mud volcano. This small volcano has an elevation of over 65 feet.
On the inside, the volcano is full of mud. Just a few years back, it was discovered the mud inside contains sulfates, phosphates and magnesium and that the mud aside from being refreshing, has curatative properties that apparently cure acne, ulcers, rumatism, arthritis, etc. Small groups of tourists arrive daily to enjoy the natural phenomenom and to benefit from its curatative properties.
Due to the density of the mud, bathers don’t run the risk of sinking. Afterwards, the tourists are led down the volcano and down the little hill to bath in the natural resevoir. Around the volcano, there are a small number of families that derive their living from attending to these tourists both inside the volcano and in the small restaurant on site.
Geographically, the volcano finds itself within the Bolívar department and also culturally and economically, the local population that is more connected to said tourism comes from Bolívar too. From either major city, one can find daily excursions going to and from the volcano.
For lots of video clips of the place, click here.
I went there with several friends and only 2 accompanied me in the volcano even with the cost of being attended only reaching US$2.50. Technically the volcano bath is free (if I recall correctly) but the families that live there will try and try again to be of some assistance to you in order to receive a small tip at the end. Whether they should or not, you are charged yet you don’t pay the guy at the bottom with pesos, you first have to buy a ticket from just across the way. This sort of thing happens in Brazil too, completely pointless steps in a process which itself is pointless.
Once you reach the top, you slide in from the little ladder they put to help you enter. From there, a man or woman (most likely a man) will help you lie back and get fully submersed before pretty much immediately starting to give you a massage, whether you ask for it or not. Of course, you can just keep saying no and eventually they’ll get the picture. When you finish, some older women take you down to the reservoir, tell you to get in far enough and then order you to take off your swimsuit so they can wash it. After they finish, you put your swimsuit back on and when you are ready to leave, just give someone who helped you a small tip and off you go! All in all, its a unique experience and worth the measely $5.00.
As a tip, if you happen to be in the reservoir and its foggy and the birds are flying low over the lake, patches of grass are sticking out in the distance and the rain starts to come down all around you, stay for awhile, enjoy the moment.