Set near the convergence of Brazil, Argentina, and Paraguay, Itaipu Dam (Barragem de Itaipu) is considered one of the World’s Seven Modern Wonders, clocking in at 4.5-miles (7.2-kilometers) long and 65 stories high. With a maximum flow up to 40 times more powerful than nearby Iguassu (Iguaçu) Falls, the dam’s hydroelectric power plant produces roughly 20 percent of Brazil’s electricity.
Most tours of Itaipu Dam include a catamaran ride on Itaipu Lake and allow you to take in views from the observation deck and spillway, while some options also include a technical tour of the hydroelectric power plant. Don’t miss the Bela Vista Biological Sanctuary, which features a 2-mile (3.2-kilometer) walk around the Piracema Canal and harbors animal species such as jaguars, quati, alligators, king vultures, and snakes. Nearby, the Casimiro Montenegro Filho Astronomical Pole features a planetarium, observatory, and an observation platform that allow travelers to view the night sky. Itaipu Dam tours typically leave from Puerto Iguazú or Foz do Iguaçu, and are frequently combined with excursions to the Brazilian side of Iguassu Falls.
Things to Know Before You Go
- Itaipu Dam is a must-see for first-time visitors to the Iguassu Falls area.
- Be sure to dress appropriately; sandals, high heels, miniskirts, and shorts are not allowed.
- The visitor complex at the dam is fully wheelchair accessible and has a tactile floor to aid travelers with decreased vision.
How to Get There
Most visitors arrive at Itaipu Dam via prearranged tour. Cabs are available from downtown Foz do Iguaçu, and car parking is available for independent travelers. To get there via public transportation, take the Conjunto C Norte or Conjunto C Sul bus lines, which depart from the central Foz do Iguaçu terminal.
When to Get There
You can visit Itaipu Dam year-round. Twice a week, there is a nighttime light show from the Central Lookout, which features music and views of the dam illuminated by nearly 1,000 spotlights and light fixtures.
Itaipu Dam History
The Itaipu hydroelectric plant marks the spot where an epic cascade was once the centerpiece of Guaira Falls National Park. The Seven Falls of Guaira (actually 18 cascades on the Parana River, gushing twice as much water as Niagara Falls) were drowned in 1982 when the dam was under construction. The national park was dissolved and the cliffs were destroyed with dynamite to ensure safer navigation on the new Itaipu Lake.