After several years of inactivity, the La Carolina gold mine reopens its tunnels with a view to a new activity: mining tourism in the San Luis mountain range. An unforgettable experience inside deep shafts where valuable minerals of the earth 's crust are appreciated.
Those visitors to the Province of San Luis
with a spirit of exploration have the chance to experience exclusive mining tourism as they visit the Buena Esperanza gold mine, in the district of La Carolina.
For this kind of excursion, you must go along the 80 km between the city of San Luis
and La Carolina, after going across the beautiful valley of Pancanta to the foot of Mount Tomolasta, 2,018 meters over sea level. To get there, you must go along Provincial Route 9 towards the North.
Once you arrive in this picturesque settlement, which seems to stand beyond the passing of time, you must contact a local operator and thus enter the bowels of the ancient mines which, though inactive, continue to surprise their visitors.
The tourist village called La Carolina dates from 1792, when it was founded by the then Marquis de Sobremonte, in honor of Carlos III of Spain's wife. This ancient settlement reached its peak in the mid XIX century, when an accidental discovery generated the wildest gold rush ever suffered by this country.
Soon afterwards, the emerging mining activity caused English and Spanish companies to reach this area in order to extract the gold lodged by the mountains, totally eclipsing the pastoral and cattle-raising tradition of the zone.
Amid this labor, stone houses started to be built as well as narrow streets ending in dark tunnels, where the miners would enter in search for the precious mineral. Once the exploitation of the mines was finished, the prosperous stage of the town ended.
Rusty wagons, twisted iron, abandoned tunnels, destroyed depots and people living the memories of a dream come true for scarce moments took hold of the space.
Today, the tourist potential of La Carolina seems to awake after a long lethargy, thanks to the vestiges of a splendorous past, which contribute to promote the area as a mining and contemplative tourism site , in full contact with nature.
In the vicinity of the district, you can make out the murmur of the Carolina stream, with its crystal-clear waters, which flow around with the promise of washing gold one of these days.
In order to enjoy the excursion to the inside of the mine to the utmost, you will be provided with proper apparel to participate in this kind of activities. Helmet lamps and rubber boots are some of those elements. The activity consists in visiting the inside of the ancient shafts. As you enter the depths of the mines, which can reach 300 meters, you can appreciate various minerals of the earth's crust, stalactatite and stalagmite formations, and geological faults.
It is a unique, captivating and very thrilling experience. It does not present major degrees of difficulty, therefore it is recommendable for the entire family.
Difficulty: none, suitable for the whole family.
Duration: One hour.
How to get here: From the city of San Luis along Provincial Route 20 to the district of El Volcán, then take Provincial Route 9, passing by El Trapiche, to get to La Carolina.
Bear in mind: Where to Sleep: La Posta del Caminante, a few steps away from the main street of town, where the library, the grocer's and small handicraft shops are located. It offers six comfortable rooms. It was built by the Jesuits and it was later used as lodging for the engineers that worked in the mine.Valle de Pancanta is another choice. Located 10 km before La Carolina. The Hostería Las Verbenas is in the same location. Telephone: 54 2652 423860.