If you’re heading to Colombia, or better yet, Cartagena, chances are you’ll hear about El Totumo Cartagena. If you Google mud volcano Colombia, this volcano will pop up.
El Totumo can be a day trip from Cartagena since it is only an hour’s drive from the Old City.
Note: This post may contain affiliate links. If you use some of the links below, I get compensated. This does not cost the viewer anything. Thank you for supporting me 🙂
About El Totumo Cartagena
This mud bath volcano Cartagena brings in tourists from all over the world.
El Totumo is close to an hour’s drive from the popular tourist city, Cartagena, where the volcano also receives most of its visitors. It is the smallest volcano in the country.
The volcano in Santa Catalina can accommodate up to 10-15 people at a time, and to me, that is pushing it.
El Totumo is roughly 15 meters (50 feet) deep with a diameter of 4.5 meters (15 feet) and it is all-natural with 51 minerals in it. Some of the minerals found in Volcán de Lodo El Totumo include calcium, magnesium and aluminum, and more.
The mud has special properties that can help treat certain problems such as rheumatic problems and joint inflammation. It is also known to help detoxify the body and clean the skin.
So I guess it’s not just regular dirt.
It is believed that the volcano used to spew fire, ashes, and lava but then it was turned into mud by a priest. The priest believed that it was the work of the devil and then turned it into the muddy tourist attraction that it is known as today.
Even if you decide to take a tour to El Totumo Cartagena, I recommend bringing these:
- Bathing suit
- Change of clothes
- Extra cash for tipping
Bring a bathing suit you don’t mind getting stained/dirty and make sure you have a nice case on your phone or GoPro in case you have to rinse them off.
There will be a staircase that leads to the top of the volcano.
You will want to and also be told to take everything off before going into the volcano. You can leave your shoes at the bottom of the stairs.
You should anticipate tipping around USD 2-3 per person. Don’t worry about bringing the cash around with you, the workers will follow you around after.
You will be cleaning mud from your body for a few days after your trip, but it is SO worth it.
*If you go to El Totumo alone AKA without a tour, be warned that the workers might try to hassle you. I ended up paying way more than needed. All of the workers surrounded me and the girl that I went with. It was super uncomfortable.
That is not to say don’t tip and don’t go. You absolutely SHOULD tip appropriately and you should go to the volcano, but be cautious.
El Totumo Hours
The volcano is open every day from 7 am to 4 pm.
What to Wear
You can wear your bathing suit or change in one of the nearby stalls that are in the parking lot.
Mud Volcano Cartagena Price
To enter the mud bath volcano, Cartagena, you have to pay COP 20,000 (USD 5).
What is Included in the Price?
If you book a tour, everything listed should be included in the price.
The COP 20,000 (USD 5) should include the massage and the other person who follows you with your belongings (bag, phone/GoPro, etc.)
The person who has all of your things will take photos and videos of you while you are inside the volcano.
How to Get to the Volcano
You can reserve a tour if you want or you can go on your own. If you decide to go on your own, the volcano might be less crowded. However, there is no guarantee that the volcano will be vacant if you go on your own. You might just simply luck out. When I went, there were only 8 of us total so it wasn’t packed.
On Your Own
If you decide to go on your own, I think the best way to get there is by driving. I took an Uber and the price one way was USD 30. Take note that although it is widely used around the country, Uber is banned in Colombia. Our Uber driver waited for us at the volcano and brought us back to Cartagena.
If you take a taxi, you can ask them to stay at the volcano and you guys will have to agree on a set price. We agreed to pay an extra COP 30,000 (USD 8) for the hour that we were there.
Book a Tour
There are tours all throughout the day heading to El Totumo. You can book a half-day tour or a private tour of the volcano.
You might be able to prearrange a tour with your hostel or hotel.
If you want to book ahead and have a guide with you, it will make it less stressful because everything will be handled for you, including transportation and maybe even hotel pickup and drop-off.
How to Spend Your Time in the Mud Bath Volcano
Each experience is different, depending on how long you stay and how many people are in the volcano at the same time as you. This is how my experience went.
Once you step foot in the volcano, you will be greeted and pushed on your back. It feels like you’re floating, in a weird but fun way.
You will be tossed and turned on your back and stomach while getting a massage.
The feeling of the mud will make you giggle. If you clench your fist, it feels like Jello seeping through your fingers. The feeling of floating on top of the dense mud made me laugh from time to time.
Some people were jumping into the volcano, which now looking back, I’m not so sure sounds like a good idea. Once you get covered in the mud, it will be difficult to get it off because of course there’s no clean hand to wipe the mud from your eyes.
There were times when we were just sitting in the mud. My body was in a position one would be in when they are sitting on a chair.
At times, it would be so difficult to move positions.
Remember to relax and have fun!! This is an indelible experience in Colombia that you will look back on.
After the Mud Bath
After you are done with your massage, you will be brought to a nearby lake. And don’t worry about being exposed to the people behind you, you will be facing the riverbank.
You will discover mud is all over your body. The ladies will clean you thoroughly, and I mean thoroughly. They will grab parts of your bathing suit and scrub your body.
You might want to take breaths every time she goes to grab more water because it is tough catching a breath otherwise.
After a good, deep rinsing off, you will go change into your dry clothes. You can go to the stalls that are near the entrance.
Should You Go to El Totumo?
If you have the chance to go to El Totumo Cartagena, go! It will be worth it.
If you don’t mind getting dirty and being touched by others, then you’ll be perfectly fine. The massage in the volcano and rinsing off in the river might be a bit too personal for some.
It might be one of the weirdest things that you will ever do, but it is pretty amazing. The experience both inside the volcano and after are so interesting, that you’ll want to tell stories about it years later.