Eco-Friendly in Argentina: Revel in the Falls, Replant a Forest
The Misiones province of Argentina lies in the far north of the country, and on a map looks like a wedge inserted to separate Paraguay and Brazil. Home of Iguazu Falls and the Paraná River, Misiones was the location of the 1986 movie The Mission, starring Jeremy Irons and Robert De Niro.
Twenty miles south of the falls is an estate that was established in the 1920s to grow yerba mate, which, when steeped in hot (but not boiling) water creates the drink called mate, (pronounced “mah-tay”), considered to have medicinal powers. Mate is traditionally served in a hollowed gourd with a metal straw and is hugely popular in Argentina and Uruguay. In the 1940s, a manor house was built on the property and years later it was transformed into a quiet resort in harmony with nature.
While a visit to Iguazu Falls is definitely recommended, it can lean toward the commercial side with its casinos and cabarets (think Lake Tahoe). But if you’re looking for something more tranquil and authentic, I recommend staying at Posada Puerto Bemberg, just a short drive to the south. Here the thrills are all impact and no drama.
The Posada has 14 rooms and is situated close to the Paraná River and the border with Paraguay in the Misiones jungle. The rainforest, which originally covered 386,000 square miles, is now reduced to 40,000 square miles; yet, even now, 75% of the world’s species of flora and fauna are represented there.
Puerto Bemberg offers you the opportunity to be one with the jungle, but it does not skimp on creature comforts including an excellent restaurant with a robust wine cellar. All meals and activities at the Posada are included.
Explore both the river and jungle during your stay at the resort. The posada has its own boat that takes guests down the Paraná River. You can also navigate the Urugua-i stream, or make a trip to Salto Yasy, where you can spend time with the Mbya, an indigenous community, and have the opportunity to swim in the falls. A full day can be devoted to the river, complete with a picnic lunch prepared by the Posada. Upon returning to the Posada, grab a bottle of wine and climb to the top of a 60-foot watchtower by the pool to watch the jungle fall asleep.
Plan another day for the jungle, starting with a walk to Guatambu Falls accompanied by Emilio White, the Posada’s noted ornithologist. He will introduce you to some of the over 400 varieties of birds in the area.
Returning to the posada after your jungle adventure, you can tour the orchard, which grows organic mango and other exotic fruit. The garden provides over 20 vegetables, supplemented by a robust herb garden. Don’t forget to visit the plant nursery, where more than 50 native species are in cultivation. You’re invited to make a donation and plant a tree to aid in the restoration of the lost acres of the jungle. Wind down by traversing a walkway at treetop height to a sheltered viewpoint and relax as toucans fly into the sunset.
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