Adventure & Activities Bolivia Latest MineTour Potosi

Potosi Mines, Bolivia | Ethical Aspects + Recommended Tour

Group dressed in mining

It is one in every of Bolivia's most controversial journeys, but one who guarantees to be an experience you’ll never forget. Potosí's famous mining excursions promise a singular understanding of the mining business and dealing circumstances for many who do their day-to-day work. Some vacationers can’t wait to fall into the mine, while others question the seeing of different individuals's struggling.

Once I visited Potos in Bolivia, both safety problems and a moral justification for mine visits broke out. I went forwards and backwards, I agree with such a voyeurism and eventually swore to research corporations and experiences as much as I might.

Throughout my research, I met the company Potochij Tours. The corporate was led by an ex-mine referred to as Antonio. When he had met Antonio in individual, it wasn't lengthy earlier than Tim and I began on a mine tour.


The day started at around 9.30 am and spoiled the mini-hire firm with a handful of different curious vacationers. Antonio announced that our first cease can be in stock to get the appropriate gear for the doorstep.

Here we have been rated overalls, helmets, footwear and flashlights. Antonio additionally gave us gloves if the skin reacted poorly with powders and mud within the mines.

  Group dressed in mining Group photographs earlier than getting into mine

The gown felt a bit strange, which just elevated as Antonio introduced out giant dynamite and hammer copies. We made group pictures, we all felt frightened about coming.

Miner's Market

We went back to the ready minibus that takes us to the native Miner market. Here we had the opportunity to purchase presents for miners. In addition to individual merchandise, it was also attainable to purchase a small barrier for 20 Bolivianos.

These contaminants are likely to include a blend of carbonated drinks, cigarettes, biscuits, or cocktails. Additionally, dynamite might be bought with 20 Bolivianos inventory! (Potosí Miner's market is the one place on the earth the place you possibly can legally purchase dynamite on the street!)

Coca magazines are an amazing present for miners, because they tell about their working days. Without natural mild within the mines, the line between daylight and night time can easily blur. Antonio informed us that the mincer chews the entire bag of cookbooks through the working day. Which means once they get to the top of the bag they realize it's residence time.

  Man and woman in the mining market in Potos   Man and woman in the mining market in Potos You should purchase magazines, cigarettes and even dynamite within the mining market!

Tim and I bought two of us and two surgical masks we use in the mines. Antonio advised us that 2 Bolivianas per masks was value it to avoid respiration a number of dust that is fired contained in the mine.

Though I used to be stunned to see objects akin to carbonated drinks and cigarettes, Antonio defined that the life expectancy of miners is far decrease because of their work, in order that they have little health problems. Most miners reside until the mid-forty years. This scary statistic actually hit house and I couldn't marvel if we might do it right by making this hopeless place…

Into the Mine

We drove to Cerro Rico Sq., where the Potato mines are situated. Antonio bought our tickets, which have been included in the tour worth.

I was pleased to note that each one revenue from the ticket prices primarily worked as insurance in the event of an accident. It was not good to imagine that there can be a defect in the mine, but, in fact, in such a working surroundings, issues have unfortunately been given.

Once we approached the mine entrance, Antonio launched some of Potosí's history as a mining space, and in addition informed about his own past in his mine. He comes from the miners, and only when his father died because of the years spent in the mines, he determined to name it to stop.

  City of Potosi   City of Potosi Cerro Rico mines have views of the town of Potosí

Antonio informed us that the mine we visited can be a part of his previous operative and subsequently the place he feels behind his hand. Though there are a number of levels in the mine, we only visit the first two.

Once we waited to go ahead, I heard certainly one of my associates whispering to their boyfriend: "I don't know if I want to go there now." I also felt torn, however I firmly consider that when you intend to eat a product or materials, in this case silver, it is best to at the least have the braveness to see the place it comes from.

Antonio poured 98% of the alcohol he had purchased at the mine entrance. He stated this was Pachamama, asking for our protected passage. We checked out each other nervously before he referred to as us in and we landed long on a ladder of daylight.

Although I had initially thought that dressing was only for the good thing about vacationer photographs, I proved that I was not fairly right. The mines have been incredibly dusty, and the small routes we needed to journey typically meant fussy and unsightly trips.

It shortly turned obvious that if it hadn't been overalls, our personal garments would have been destroyed. I felt much easier to see that this was not the language on the cheek that recognized the miners, but truly something solely crucial.

Antonio led us right down to a slender tunnel, stopping recurrently to ensure the other group was towing. He stopped on the aspect channel and advised us all to take a seat down. It was cramped, but we have been relieved to cease crawling.

Time to Meet Tio

Once we have been settled, Antonio identified the depressing character sitting at the finish of the temper. He launched him to Tiona. The mannequin appeared like a man but horns.

  The Tio Statue at the Potosi Mines   The Thio Statue at the Potosi Mines Tion is usually believed to be the guard of the mines.

is a creature that miners supply to make sure their security. He’s an extension of Pachamama (Mom Earth), and it’s believed that whether it is provided on supply, he’ll shield miners from injury.

The previous habits die very exhausting and Antonio scattered the leafs from the place and in addition poured alcohol on Tio's legs and palms. I had been cynical when Antonio advised us the power of this alcohol, however after he had passed it across the group and all of us had the prospect to odor it, I believed him utterly!

Exploring the Tunnels

Tio, we all turned away from the aspect and adopted Antonio degree to the first degree. Here we saw the first miners.

Surprisingly, the miners have been very comfortable and greeted us with enthusiasm. Then Antonio stated we should always hand over a few our presents we had bought from the market. The miners thanked us after which went on their method.

  A man peeking through the Potosi mine through the tunnels.   A man peeking through the tunnels of the Potosi mine. The mines are dark and tight.

Antonio explained that while mining work is just not a highly desirable job, it costs very nicely compared to different options in Potosi. The waitress within the city restaurant is about 50 Boliviano per day, whereas the miner is about 150 Boliviano, 3 times the typical.

In fact, there are monumental health risks in mining, however many men are prepared to threaten the money it offers. Though the mines primarily employ youthful men, they all have totally different jobs. For instance, only the oldest miners depart dynamite. Younger miners try to work extra with wagons and make heavy lifting.

Once we made our means via winding tunnels, I heard low rumbles from a distance. Antonio advised us that this was dynamite.

Remaining Feelings

We spent about an hour within the mine and crawled into slender spots to see miners. Although I might have feared that this could possibly be a voyeuristic visit, where tourists revealed the discomfort of the miners, it didn't feel anything like that.

All the miners we met appeared very joyful that the tourists visited their workplace. I'm unsure if this is the direct result of the presents we gave to the workers or their want to share the world with us. In both case, they definitely appeared to be welcomed by the tourists, and I never knew I might have penetrated. I felt much more as an invited guest.

Though my mine was undoubtedly eye-open, I'm not sorry about it. Minerals as a shopper, I feel that it is very important understand the human costs of such luxuries. I also consider that if you will get around the nicely, it is extremely essential to go together with a responsible provider. Antonio, an ex-miner, knows the misery of those staff just too properly and has determined to ensure they benefit from the vacationers.

The entrance ticket, which advantages immediately from the broken miners, is a big proportion of Antonio's tour revenue rinsed straight back into the mine. Since these journeys can so easily turn into voyeuristic benefits, it is crucial to decide on a society with social consciousness

  Outside the Potosi mine   Tourists outside the Potosi mine Olin

Once we approached our time At the end of the mine, one in every of our other group passengers asked what number of accidents occurred inside. Antonio refused to speak about deaths or accidents inside the mine saying it was dangerous luck. This was where the danger of what we did was awakened to me once more.

Going to mine safety?

It's necessary to know that in the event you go to one of the Potosí mining journeys, you gained't go to the duplicate mine. These are real, lively mines and yes, they are dangerous places.

Once we left the mine, Antonio thanked Pachama for making certain security and commenced to elucidate the frequency of accidents. Intruding tunnels are quite common, and explosions are also at the flawed alarm frequency. Just a yr ago someone by accident blew himself and had to return the pieces.

The menace does not finish for miners once they depart the mines. Because of the damaging powders that the mining work breathes day-after-day, additionally they endure from long-term results on their work. Respiratory circumstances, resembling emphysema and silicosis, are everlasting issues for ex-miners and may result in their untimely demise.

NHS Adviser says that visiting a tour mine is unlikely to go away you in a state of lasting health. You ought to be very unfortunate if something happens within an hour or so that you simply have been inside me. Nevertheless, this doesn’t mean that this stuff won’t occur.

In the event you endure from claustrophobia, a critical height-related sickness or any bodily condition that doesn’t permit you to bend freely, it is best to avoid visiting my mine.

Remaining Issues

Although Potosí's mining business is in the shadow of its former self, it’s still an enormous firm. If you’ll take an lively mine, think about the next tips:

  • Be sure to are with the accountable firm.
  • Use the correct gadget eg a helmet and a lamp
  • Keep in mind that miners are additionally individuals, not animals to go to.
  • Purchase presents for miners, it creates good relationships.
  • By no means depart your information behind.
  • Treat experience as a chance to study, not to be fooled.

Bolivia's current backpacking?

  Sheree Hooker Bio Pic   Sheree Hooker Bio Pic

Sheree is a difficult British hiker, who is behind the, a journey weblog designed to point out that we will journey probably the most useless. Comply with Sheree's # # adventures as she crashes all over the world, drops into squat bogs, will get into automobiles with machete males and going out of indignant peacocks.


Mail sort


Study Spanish
Information & Publication
Beaches and islands

Type by