In the middle of the mountains, on an altitude of 4,067 above the sea level, Potosí is definitely worth a stopover between Uyuni and Sucre. Potosí used to be a rich city because of the silver discovered in the mountain mines in the middle of the 16th century. Nowadays, the mines are still in work, however, nobody knows for how long – probably 20-30 years more. Walking through the streets of Potosí, one can see that the city used to have its glorious times. The streets may remind you of a mediterrean city, however you definitely feel the altitude – in the night it can get pretty chilly and in the summer time it might rain a lot here. As I visited the city, it reminded me more of ghost town – I haven’t realized that the Bolivians are celebrating carnival as much as the Brazilians and Germans! On the carnival Tuesday, the streets were empty, everybody was celebrating at their homes with their family and friends. So basically, I was stuck there for a day, which had a benefit, as I have realized later: the body could get used to the altitude (even though walking up stairs of the steep streets in the city will still let you out of breath #gringos). A nice and cheap overstay is La casa Huespedes La Vicuna, located quite in the center. Just take an taxi from the bus station when you arrive, which is the fastest and easiest way to get there. However, be careful that the taxi drive does not charge you more then 10-15 bs, as they will probably try to charge you more as a gringo.
The mines can still be visited; various tourist agencies are offering this the mining tour. The tour does not have to be booked in advance, just choose an agency and if on time do the tour even the same day! However, be careful with the choice of the agency as you are visiting still working mines and thus, depending on the circumstances, the tour can be quite dangerous (over 8 million mine workers died in the mines since silver was first discovered here and to scare you even more, a bridge made out of bones of people who dies here could be made between Potosí and Spain!). I can highly recommend the Koala Tours company (especially Ronald as a guide), as this company offer the tour not as a touristic, rather social trip – they are donating part of their revenues to the mine workers. Nevertheless, be aware, when you decide to visit the silver mines, the tour is very exhausting, physically and mentally. Do not attend the tour if you are suffering from claustrophobia or similar diseases! You will see mine workers working in their normal working conditions and these are far from safe and convenient. Moreover, you will climb, crawl and you will have to pull yourself up through narrow and stony mining tunnels while inhaling dust and different mineral scents. But, you will get a beautiful view over the city before and after you get out of the mine. After the tour you can grab some cheap and tasty “almuerzo o ceno completo” in the restaurant next to the Koala tours company. So all in all, the mining tour is definitely not a traditional tour every backpacker is doing when travelling through Bolivia and thus definitely worth it – so write Potosí on your bucket list and visit the silver mines here!