Bonnie Tucker / FST
Various travel agencies arrange visits to yerba farms and mills in Misiones and Corrientes, which are the only Argentine provinces with favorable growing conditions for the tree that yields the leaves used in the famous green-tasting infusion. The two- and three-day tours take tourists to homes and factories in different towns, and show them other attractions as well, such as ruins of Jesuit missions and orchid nurseries.
The homes and factories visited during these tours form part of the Yerba Mate Trail organized by an association that promotes consumption of mate and the cuisine of the northeastern provinces in general, while familiarizing tourists with the lifestyles of yerba
farmers and the industrial process that produces what goes into the infusion sipped by millions of people in the country and the region.
Members are farmers, industries, restaurants, various types of accommodations, and travel agencies that conform to quality standards set by the association.
The association’s Website is http://www.rutadelayerbamate.org.ar/. At present it is in Spanish only, but the English and German versions are reportedly under construction.
Of the Misiones ranches mentioned on the Website, I know and can recommend three:
Santa Inés near Posadas (http://www.estancia-santaines.com.ar/) , whose founder rediscovered how to cultivate yerba seeds outside the jungle at the beginning of the 20th century;
Santa Cecilia in Candelaria (http://www.santacecilia.com.ar/) , a Corrientes-style cattle ranch whose owner is very steeped in yerba, mate and regional lore, and
Las Mercedes in Eldorado (http://www.estancialasmercedes.com/), with an interesting family history and outdoor activities centering around horseback riding and canoeing.
For more information, contact Alejandro Gruber, president of the Asociación de la Ruta de la Yerba Mate in Posadas (Misiones) at (03752) 420-199, or firstname.lastname@example.org.
PHOTO CREDITS: Ruins of the Jesuits' San Ignacio Miní mission. Arrival of recently harvested yerba mate, and packaging line at the Yerba Producers' Cooperative in Andresito, Misiones. Estancia Santa Inés: Nanny Núñez steeps a mate in the jungle near the main house; porch of the main house. Estancia Santa Cecilia: a bedroom in the main house; a gaucho cutting rawhide. Estancia Las Mercedes: The swiming pool and the breakfast room. All photos by Bonnie Tucker.