The Wanda Mines, home to some of the best agate, amethyst, quartz and topaz found in Argentina, make for a fascinating visit in the north of Argentina. Located less than 40 miles (60 km) from Puerto Iguazu in the rain forest along the Paraná River, this open pit mine is a delight for the eyes. Wanda, the town where the mines are located, was founded mainly by Polish settlers, and in fact, it was named after a Polish princess who had a fondness for gemstones.
The family-owned mine, where minerals are found near the surface, is especially interesting to enthusiasts of gemstones and collectors. Visitors to the mines learn about the formation of the gemstones, when lava coming from the core of the earth cooled and the trapped gas bubbles formed into crystals with amethysts, agates, topazes and quartz.
Mining companies, which have been operating since the 1950s, have guided tours to show tourists the variety of gemstones found in the area, the different parts of the mines, as well as workshops and showrooms where cut and polished stones are on display.