Itaipu Dam - Brazil and Paraguay

Trip Start Jun 13, 2006
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Trip End Jun 12, 2007


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Friday, January 12, 2007

Alex: Early on in our trip, at the top of the CN tower in Toronto, we came across a list of the 7 Modern Wonders of the World put together by the American Society of Civil Engineers or something? We made a note of the list as we thought we might come across some of them along the way. If you are interested the list was: CN Tower, Toronto, Empire State Building, New York; Golden Gate Bridge, San Francisco; Panama Canal, Panama; Itaipu Dam, Brazil/Paraguay; Chunnel, England/France; North Sea Protection Works. When we realised we would see so many we decided to spend an extra day in Foz do Iguaçu to see the Itaipu Dam. The dam is the biggest hydroelectric dam in the world, it provides 95% of Paraguay's electricity and 25% of Brazil's - pretty impressive, no. Even when the 3 Gorges dam in China is completed this dam will apparently still produce more electricity than it. It has also flooded a vast area submerging some falls that were billed to be more impressive than the Iguazu falls, something not mentioned on the tour ran by the company that owns the dam - the tour was really interesting, but a little one sided. The first stop was the massive slipway which water not used to make electricity impressively floods down. Even after the falls this was impressive! The next stop gave us a view of the main part of the dam, which is impressive. There are two parts to the dam, a concrete part and a rock fill part - the total length is just under 8km! Everything about it borders on hyperbolic - the pipes that feed the turbines alone are 10m in diameter! After a few photos we got back on the bus for what must be our favorite border crossing so far. The centre of the dam marks the border between Brazil and Paraguay but as you have employees from both countries working there it is purely symbolic, so we crossed the border into Paraguay with no stops or formalities of any kind, if only all border crossings could be like that! The views from the dam are great. On one side the is the enormous man-made lake and on the other the river making its way to the Iguazu falls and the huge slipway feeding it (this water works hard!). On our way back we stopped at the Eco-museum also ran by the dam company, which again was interesting but also contained little too much company propaganda for my liking.
Heading off to Argentina tomorrow - 3 countries in 2 days - how jet-set are we?
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