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Yerba Mate is cultivated in the provinces of Corrientes and Misiones, at the country's Northeast, where nature is generous and heat is intense. Crossing green landscapes and amicable towns, this road leads travelers towards the origins of one of the oldest and most typical Argentine usages.

Mate is one of Argentina's cultural icons. It is an infusion based on yerba mate, a native tree of South America's sub-tropical rainforest, which can be traced back to Guarani native populations. Nowadays, mate is an essential beverage from most of the country's inhabitants, a social sharing ritual that goes from hand to hand; the ideal companion for long and distended conversations.

So, to discover the roots of this typically Argentine tradition (also shared with the neighbor countries of Uruguay, Paraguay and Southern Brazil) it  is necessary to follow the Yerba Mate Route that joins the littoral provinces of Corrientes and Misiones, where this product 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. The Guaranies were those who taught the Jesuits the way to consume yerba mate through infusions (in Guarani language "Caá-Mati") and the first cultivations of this wild tree date back to the 17th century, when they became an important resource for the Guarani-Jesuit missions. The immigrants that settled down at those lands continued their work, as witnessed by diverse museums and historical sites alongside the Route.

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. Mate is drunk in different ways: the most classic is bitter and hot, but some people prefer it sweet, with orange peel, aromatic herbs and, in the Littoral -where summers are really intense- they drink it cold (this version is called "tereré").

But the 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 surprise 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.

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