Learn about opal-mining history, dig for semi-precious stones and enjoy superb views of the Querétaro Valley at this working mine.
Get the chance to search for opal stones and then see them turned into gemstones on a guided tour of the Tequisquiapan Opal Mine (Mina de Ópalos La Carbonera). For over a century Tequisquiapan has been a recognized location for the extraction and exploitation of opals, which get polished and created into artisanal jewelry sold around the world. Tequisquiapan Opal Mine is an open-air mine set on a hill encircled by the wild landscapes of Querétaro.
The tour starts with a ride in a four-wheel drive jeep up a steep, winding dirt road that passes lush green vegetation. Listen as your knowledgeable guide explains the importance of opal mining to the region and how the trade has developed over time. Hear stories about old miners and feel free to ask the guide questions. Observe as miners hack away at rocks in an attempt to extract the stones.
Follow the guide along rock-strewn tracks to natural caves and tunnels. Watch a demonstration of hammering techniques and then grab a hammer and have fun digging for your own opals. Visit the workshop, where artists expertly transform the raw stones into sublime fashion accessories. Have your own opal made into a brightly colored jewelry piece or purchase pre-made items from the shop.
While here, take a moment to appreciate the rugged beauty of the Querétaro Valley. Spot craggy hills, patchwork fields and lakes such as Presa Centenario. On clear days it’s possible to make out the 1,420-feet (433-meter) tall Peña de Bernal monolith, located to the north.
Situated in the town of La Trinidad, the mine is about 7 miles (11 kilometers) west of Tequisquiapan. Get here via public buses or arrange private transportation with one of Tequisquiapan’s tour operators.
Tequisquiapan Opal Mine is open daily and there’s an admission fee. Guided tours take place twice a day and have a duration of about 4 hours. Tours involve a lot of walking so bring comfortable shoes. A hat, to protect you from the hot sun, and water bottle are also recommendable.