Within an hour of leaving the Colonial city of Cartagena we were in the countryside and our truck was surrounded by small, frantic yellow butterflies.It felt like being inside a Gabriel García Márquez novel: eerie, fragile, fateful. It got even more surreal when we reached the bubbling crater mud pit at Totumo Volcano.

Tutomo Volcano Colombia

Totumo is an actual volcano but it’s just 50 feet (15 meters) tall, so it looks more like a big ant hill.

The muddy miracle of Totumo Volcano

We were still surrounded by yellow butterflies when we arrived at Totumo Volcano. Totumo is a tiny little volcano, just 50 feet (15 meters) high. Rickety wooden stairs lead up its flanks to the crater which is filled with milk-chocolate-colored mud. The story goes that a local priest was offended by the hell-like fire and brimstone that came out of the crater and started sprinkling the thing with holy water until the fire and brimstone turned into thick mud. Improvement? You be the judge.

Now visitors pay a couple of dollars to climb into the Totumo crater and bob around in the mud like strawberries in chocolate fondue. This is appealing to some because, hey, you’re bobbing around in a volcanic crater and because the volcanic mud is full of minerals that may have medicinal properties. No word on the current holy water content and whether or not that’s good for your skin.

Tutomo mud Volcano Colombia

The crater of the Totumo Volcano is filled with mud which you can climb down into for a soak.

The air temperature was about one million degrees celcius when we were at the volcao, so the idea of getting into hot mud was completely unappealing as was the idea of the long, dusty walk from the crater to the nearby lagoon where the mud is washed off. So we skipped it.

Here’s more about travel in Colombia