On the other side of Foz do Iguazu to the waterfalls is Itaipu Dam. The largest hydroelectric power plant in the world. Last year it powered 90% of the energy in Paraguay and 19% in Brazil.
It’s hard to imagine the river before the dam. The Parana is the 7th largest river in the world. It took the workers 3 years to create a valley to redirect the river before they could even start building the dam! Iguazu Falls, which was for me, a humbling experience. The amount of water that cascades all around is incredible; the noise and the sheer force is something that you so rarely encounter. However, the waterfalls would only be able to produce just over a tenth of the energy that the Dam produces. I find this incredible, and would really like more information on the river before the dam was built if anyone knows anything. I have had a good look on the web, but can’t seem to find anything. I was also told that under the dam is one of the biggest underground water stores in the world, does anyone know anymore about this?
My tip for anyone going to Iguazu Falls would be to go to Itaipu Dam as well. There are a number of buses that lead to the Dam, and there are free tours available.
I stayed in the Bambu hostel in Foz (on the Brazil side. There’s also a Bambu hostel in Puerto Iguazu on the Argentinean side). They arrange tours and boat rides to the falls, but are also just as happy explaining how you can go by yourself. They made it extremely easy for me to go to the Falls and the Dam, and also bought me a ticket to Buenos Aires, which I was able to pick up from the Argentinean side once I got there.
[One more thing about the Itaipu Dam, or at least to put its power into perspective with the rest of the world. Although it is able to provide power for the majority of Paraguay and around a fifth of Brazil, this would be the equivalent in USA of powering just Manhattan Island. Goes to show the massive gulf in consumption between these countries!]
Hostel Bambu – www.hostelbambu.com