Searching through the Silver Mines
The mining town of Potosi is one of the highest cities in the world at 4000m. The city is surrounded by the Andes Mountains, including the most important mountain, Cerro Rico. During your stay we'll arrange a guided tour of the Potosi silver mines for you. As you walk through the narrow, dark hallways you can see first-hand how tough and dangerous a miner's life is. The mines date back to the colonial era, and little has changed since then.
- Accommodation – price based on 2 people sharing
- Transport in minibus
- Entrance fee for the mines
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Arrival in Potosi
Potosi is a lively city with a historic town centre. We’ve selected a hotel near colonial buildings such as Casa de la Moneda. The cosily decorated rooms each have en-suite bathrooms with views of Cerro Rico Mountain. This afternoon you’ll have time to yourself to take a stroll through the steep streets, you’ll have to take it easy because of the altitude. Have an early dinner; the town’s restaurants close early in the evening.
Potosi – Mine Tour – Departure
After breakfast you’ll be collected from your hotel by your guide for a tour of the Potosi silver mines, filled with about 10,000 hard-working miners. First he’ll take you to the miner’s market, where you can browse, aside from standard miner’s equipment such as helmets and gas lamps, you’ll see pure alcohol, coca leaves, cigarettes and dynamite. Miners are extremely happy and grateful to receive gifts of coca leaves, so we recommend you buy some to give to them when you arrive at the mine.
Cerro Rico is a cooperative mine owned by the miners themselves. However, there haven’t been many improvements to the quality of living for them and they still work under incredibly poor conditions. Once you’re ready, you’ll enter the Cerro Rico mine. In preparation you’ll get suited up in a jacket, boots, helmet and given a lamp before you head deep into the dark mountain.
You might see statues of the devil during your visit, the miners make offerings in order to appease him for taking his minerals. After a few hours exploring you’ll head upwards and notice the sunlight in the distance. A huge sense of relief and freedom will overcome you as you’re engulfed by bright sunshine and can breathe in the fresh, clean air.
Something to be aware of...
Before you decide to venture into the mines it’s worth bearing in mind that they are in no way set up for tourists. If you choose to visit there are risks involved; you will be exposed to noxious gases and chemicals, there is the possibility of falling rocks and the mines are incredibly claustrophobic. Although the NHS has stated that short exposure to the mines (i.e. a few hours) is extremely unlikely to cause lasting health impacts, if you are at all worried, we would recommend skipping the mine tour.
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