The Muslism have their Mecca, Jews and Christians have Jerusalem; what about us materos? What do we have? Well, I guess the best answer to that question would be: The Yerba Mate Route.
The Yerba Mate Route or La Ruta de la Yerba Mate is a unique route through the heart of yerba mate country. Its the only one of it’s kind in the world and the ideal portal to discovery of this typically Argentine tradition (also shared with the neighbor countries of Uruguay, Paraguay and Southern Brazil). The entire route joins the littoral provinces of Corrientes and Misiones, where yerba mate is cultivated and elaborated. It is a unique gastronomic and cultural itinerary that crosses red soils and plentiful vegetation fields, natural wonders and Mankind Heritages, myths and traditions of people influenced by pre-Spaniard cultures, Jesuit legacies, Creole gauchos and European immigrants.
Yerba Mate is deeply rooted in the Littoral’s life, not only for its importance in the regional productive economy, but also for its history.
Travelers are invited to visit artisanal, ecological and industrial establishments, that show the entire production process: from yerba mate’s large plantations, going through harvest, drying and milling to the product’s final packing. Visitors may taste different mate infusions: traditional, organic, just-leaves, among others, while discovering their energizing properties and learning about the aspects of “mate’s ceremony”, that important part of Argentine people’s everyday life.
Yerba mate is not used only in this traditional beverage. In gastronomy, it is present in a diversity of dishes, deserts and beverages: bread, cheese, ice cream, alfajores, bonbons, liqueur and beer… just to mention a few of almost 200 foods and beverages that combine yerba mate with other typical regional products. It is an actual rare treat for the most curious and demanding palates.
This authentic gastronomic and cultural experience can be complemented by horseback riding, mountain bike and trekking around the plantations. And, to spend the night, there are old yerba-producing estancias and colonial houses that offer accommodation and invite visitors to share the typical life of rural families. There are also inns, hotels and fantastic eco-lodges harmonically integrated with the natural environment.
The Yerba Mate Route is the most important food route of the Mercosur and it crosses the North of the province of Corrientes and the entire territory of Misiones. Organized in circuits, every traveler may take the time necessary to discover its in his/her own way. The main access points by air are Puerto Iguazú and Posadas (in Misiones) or the city of Corrientes, capital of the province with the same name. Besides, this route connects with the region’s tourist attractions, among which we should mention the Iguazú Waterfalls, one the of Seven Nature Wonders of the World, the Moconá waterfalls and the Jesuit-Guarani Missions, declared Mankind Heritage -all of them in Misiones; and the Iberá Wetlands in Corrientes.
So if you are serious about yerba mate culture and becoming a true matero, this a trip you might want to look into. Argentina can get pretty cold during the winter months, but it’s also when you can experience the most beautiful days. Remember that winter in South America usually starts around end of April and runs until end of July or so.