The Merriam Webster dictionary defines a Mud Volcano as "an orifice in the earth from which gas or vapor issues either through a pool of mud or with the ejection of mud which may accumulate in a conical mound".
I recently went to one of the 15 Mud Volcanoes in Trinidad.
This particular Mud Volcano is called "L'Eau Michel" and is located in Penal (South Trinidad), on Bunsee Trace. It usually takes a one-hour hike to access it, but our kind bus driver decided to drop us closer to the forest, which cut the hike in half!
The hike is considered a Moderate one and is rated 4 (out of 8).
Upon arriving to the Mud Volcano’s site, I believe most of us were surprised to see a “Do Not Step Into the Volcano” sign. Next to this sign was another one indicating: “Be Safe”.
This particular mud volcano has been advertised by local medias, especially since this year's Easter week-end. (Read more here)
I also noticed a welcoming sign made by one of the government ministries and placed at the entrance of Bunsee Trace for that volcano.
Although it’s always good to be safe no matter what you get into/involved in, I believe the entire group was wondering why that sign was asking us not to do exactly what we came/paid to do: Stepping into The Volcano!!
It was clear that even members of the tour operator themselves had no idea why the sign was there. Therefore, for over 10 minutes the group was simply looking at the mud volcano. I found it rather amusing to watch the volcano continuously bubbling.
While pondering about the sign, I decided to peruse the rest of the site. It only features a few basic sheds and sitting areas. I also noticed a few hand-made swings. Do note that there aren’t any bathroom facilities on site.
A few days after the hike, I enquired the management of the tour operator about the sign. I just couldn't get over it. Management told me that the sign is a deterrent for small groups (1-3) of people who might venture there without being accompanied by a medical staff.
Since we were part of an organized tour which included a medical staff, it took away some of the risks involved in stepping into the mud volcano.
The Muddy Experience
A member of the tour operator told me that, as usual, he doesn’t expect anybody to get into the volcano before one of his colleagues and himself get into it first. Hmm, well, I'll blame that on the "Do not Step Into Volcano" sign!!
As expected, soon after some members of the tour operators got into the volcano, clients did the same, little by little, after pondering about giving it a try. I can safely say that 99% of the group ended up in the volcano (it was about 60 clients in total).
After I finished walking around the site, I decided to put my gear away with the exception of my tripod, selfie stick and iPod. I safely packed my action-camera in my bag, since I had only planned to wear it on my head during that muddy adventure.
Stepping Into the Mud Volcano
I must admit that I had no clue what to expect from this particular mud bath, beside exfoliating benefits. Therefore, I had to check it out for myself. That’s why I came, isn’t it?! So off I went and stepped into the volcano, woohoo.
Hmm, I am not sure how to describe these first couple seconds. At this point, I was in it for the benefit of my skin, lol!!! It took me a few minutes to get accustomed to this particular sensation. Once I dipped my arms and shoulders into it and started moving my arms and legs, I felt the mud's temperature turning from neutral to cool. I no longer felt the heat from outside the volcano (scorching sun), once i was covered.
From then on, this bath felt comfortable and relaxing. The fact that the volcano bubbles popped to the surface anywhere, and at anytime, was cause for laughter and jokes (farting jokes included).
I would have stayed longer in there, if I didn’t have to take footage of people had another type of fun with the mud from the volcano.
Sliding away on the Volcano’s mud
Not sure who came up with the idea, but the site includes a man-made slide. It ends up in a small muddy pond (see video below). Members of the tour operator use a stick to send some of the mud down a man-made drain, which then spills onto the nearby steep hill to turn into a natural muddy slide. Check the video below to see for yourself.
I refrained from taking part in the sliding experience, though it brought lots of laughter to the group's overall experience. It did turn up the fun up a notch!
My reason from not sliding was simply because, to me, it looked more like a rough massage than a slide. I had noticed how dry the area was prior to it being subjected to the mud, so I was content just observing those who ventured into the slide.
While some enjoyed the slide more than twice, it was obvious that others didn’t quite enjoy the “massage” and regretted trying it. To each his own, lol!
Hiking to Wash Off the Mud
As I stated before, the site wasn’t equipped with shower facilities. Therefore, the only option is to hike to a "beach", an hour walk from the volcano’s site. This of course, was part of what we had signed up for, so after the fun was over, we grabbed our belongings and resumed hiking.
I must say that being covered in mud did keep me cool throughout. The high temperatures would have had a feast with me otherwise, I think!
The muddy group would have look rather funny if each person was hiking with spears in hand, lol! (See Video below.)
I particularly enjoyed the type of trees which we met along the way. It seems that I have a thing for very tall trees, lol!!
After hiking through a mostly flat terrain, we arrived at the “beach”. Forgive me if my description of a beach is somewhat far off to what is called a beach in this instance.
I would rather refer to this area as an ocean front, totally convenient to wash off all that mud. However, no matter how one wants to refer to that area, I truly believe that everybody was grateful to have the opportunity to get rid, somewhat, of the mud from the volcano.
We are now able to better cope with our physical appearance and comfort.
The group hiked back to the bus and after changing into some dry clothes, we bid farewell to this lovely adventure.
Check out my video below.
Did my smooth skin get smoother after I washed the mud off and dried my skin!! Wow, totally. Even though my skin is usually smooth, I spent the entire bus ride, touching my arms and legs in disbelief!!
Will I do it again? Yes, totally. But at a different site, just because i know what to expect of this one already!
Let me know in the comments if you would go on such adventure.