Itaipu Dam is possibly the most quintessentially ‘modern’ of all seven modern wonders of the world, because it produces power for our millions of electric lights, showers, ovens, televisions and all the other gadgets we rely on so heavily today. To be more specific, the Itaipu Dam (located on the border of Brazil and Paraguay) is the largest hydroelectric power station in the world. It takes the gravitational force of the water against the dam and produces enough power from it to serve 78% of Paraguay and 26% of Brazil without any emissions into the atmosphere whatsoever.
Construction of the Itaipu Dam on the Paraná River began in 1971 and didn’t finish until 1984; some thirteen years later. It’s been running non stop ever since it was opened, although more and more units have been added to the Dam so that it can supply larger areas. At present there is a total of 18 units.
The Itaipu Dam is 100% more environmentally friendly than its popular coal power plant counterparts. Each year it prevents 67.5 million tonnes of carbon dioxide from being pumped into the atmosphere. It was named as one of the seven modern wonders of the world in 1995.
The Itaipu Dam lies on the Paraná River, on the border between Paraguay and Brazil. Paraguay is one of the world’s largest countries, with a population of around six million. It has been given the nickname the ‘Heart of America’ as it lies right in the centre of south America and is entirely landlocked. Brazil lies to the north and north-east of Paraguay and has one of the world’s richest cultures, plus it has the fifth largest population on earth. The main language spoken in Brazil is Portuguese, whereas those in Paraguay speak either Spanish or Guarani.
Itaipu Dam cost $19.6 billion to build, much of which went on re-routing the Paraná River. This was done to allow an older section of the river to dry out, for the dam to be built there, before being re-routed back to its original course. Another huge cost was the sheer amount of concrete needed to build the Dam, an amount which totalled 15 times more than what was used for the Channel Tunnel.
The water inside the Itaipu Dam lake weighs an incredible 29 billion tonnes. It is this dead weight that allows the gravitational push of the water to be converted into power for Brazil and Paraguay.
How to Get There:
The nearest airport is the Guarani International Airport, just 2.8 kilometres west of the Itaipu Dam. There is a tourist agent called Paraiso Golf just 9.4 kilometres away from the airport, whose staff are there to help you to arrange a car rental or bus travel following your flight. Simply grab a taxi from the airport to this agency to arrange how you will visit the Itaipu Dam.
Once you arrive at the Itaipu Dam by taxi, bus or rental car you can take a basic guided tour for just 15 Brazilian Reais, which equates to around $8.50 dollars.
Where to Stay:
The nearest hotel to the Itaipu Dam is located in Iguazu Falls and is called ‘Best Western Casablanca’. Rooms here range from between $70 and $140. Alternatively you could stay at the Bella Italia Hotel in Iguazu Falls for between $65 and $113. Both of these hotel accommodations are within easy driving distance of the Itaipu Dam and they also both provide comfortable and good quality service to all guests. For luxury stays why not ask at the Paraiso Golf travel agency when you step off from your flight at the Guarani International Airport?
If you have visited the Paraiso Golf travel agency to rent a car, then your mode of transport will already have been sorted out. At the Itaipu Dam itself visitors can take a free tour bus, where the tour guide is fluent in three languages. Passengers are taken along the Dam and also to the side of it so it can be seen in its full glory.