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The Adventure Dispatches: Julia Dimon Soaks In Colombian Volcanic Mud
Posted on February 27, 2015

Julia Dimon soaks in a rare cultural moment in Columbia's mud volcano

We figured someone who has visited all seven continents had a few tales to tell, so we asked Eddie Bauer adventure travel guide Julia Dimon to relay some of her strangest cultural moments and oddest travel interactions in a new Live Your Adventure column, the Adventure Dispatches. Her first is a tale of volcanic mud, Columbian tourist massage and the not-so-spa experience in Volcano del Totumo, a hot destination on the adventure travel radar.

—LYA Editor

A new, hot destination on the adventure travel radar, Columbia's mud volcano rates as one of Julia's odd moments of cultural interaction

Words and Images by Julia Dimon

Caked in mud, I felt like a swamp monster, slopping around in gooey grey clay. There I was, just a forty- minute drive outside of Cartagena at Volcán del Totumo, a natural mud bath located in Northern Colombia that draws visitors keen on relaxation, rejuvenation, and unique sensory experiences.

Upon first sight, Colombia’s famous mud volcano is not what one would expect. Driving up towards it, the dirt mound looked more like a giant termite hill than it did a volcano. I’d timed my arrival just right. An early-morning visit meant missing the crowds of tour buses and cruisers that descend upon the volcano in the afternoon. Eager to submerge myself in the healing mud, I slipped into my bikini, left my clothes in the car, and made my way towards the mound.

Tourists scrambled up and down a rickety ladder, like little ants working hard to feed their queen. I followed their lead and made my way up the staircase. Once at the top, the mud pit was the size of a big Jacuzzi and could accommodate around fifteen people at a time. Not the big bad volcano I’d imagined, but the warm gooey grey mud sure did look inviting. I eased my body in. Slithering around in mud as thick as chocolate pudding, I felt buoyant. The experience reminded me of swimming in the Dead Sea: that feeling of weightlessness, bobbing helplessly in seawater like a wine cork.


I spread out in the mud like a starfish. A male masseur, whose job it is to offer massages for the equivalent of $5, grabbed one of my legs and gave me a rather rough rubdown, as if seasoning a pork roast.

The mud’s medicinal powers are believed to be detoxifying, with properties that keep the skin soft and the body free from arthritis. Best part is, it’s 100% natural and, for the few dollars’ admission, obviously much cheaper than a high-end spa. As granules of rock exfoliated my skin, I focused on the meditative blub blub sound of the mud and zoned out to the chitter-chatter of Latin American tourists around me.

After a half hour of stewing, I felt fried. Between the blazing sun and the drying effects of the warm mud, dehydration took over. Woozy, I scrambled out of the pit and made my way carefully down the death-trap staircase to the lagoon for a quick rinse.

For a small fee, a team of women armed with buckets and washcloths help visitors clean themselves of clay. I follow one woman into stagnant water for my cleansing ritual: a baptism with a bucket of brown liquid.

My skin soft and glowing, with the tiniest bit of caked mud residue left behind my ears and on my bikini, I felt fabulous. Skin so fresh, bikini not so clean, I said goodbye to Volcán del Totumo, and headed back to beautiful Cartagena feeling like a new and improved woman.

For a fee, Julia Dimon washing off the mud in Columbia

Check out the series of adventure-ready Travex gear Julia packs on her travels at



Author: - Friday, February 27th, 2015

  1. Cathy

    Julia should check out the hot beach, Notth Island, New Zealand. Thermals that run just under the beach warm up the sand and you can dig your self a personal hot tub right on the beach. It is a kick and sooo fun!!

  2. Eddie Bauer Social

    That sounds like something we should put on our bucket list too… Thanks for sharing, Cathy.

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