Day 7: Itaipu – The World’s Largest Generator of Renewable Clean Energy

Waking up in the morning and especially getting out of my warm, comfortable sleeping bag was not easy. At this time, I was glad to have made the purchase! The temperature scale dropped from yesterday’s 4 degrees to 0 to 2 degrees Celcius. Today’s plan was to visit Itaipu, the world’s largest generator of renewable clean energy.

I booked a technical guided tour of the Itaipu dam called “Circuito Especial“, together with my friends Julian and Daniela who I met in the hostel the day before.

Again, Brazilians are the world champions in marketing and sales and the presentation of the project was phenomenal. When it came to the organisational part it was a bit different. Similar to the Steve Jobs exhibition in Sao Paulo we had no glue where to go. After the video presentation two doors suddenly opened and people started to walk confusingly in any direction… even to the exit again 😀

After asking the tour guides we knew eventually more and took the left door where again 5 different bus terminals were waiting for us. Ok, and what bus terminal now? Lol… Again we had to ask and it would be a mistake to take things for granted.

The tour started and I was apparently the only English speaking tourist in the whole group… which was for sure a pain in the arse for the tour guides who just had to translate the complicated technical aspects just for myself. Possibly, that was the reason I only understood half of what the guy was trying to say since he was just speaking way too fast, lol.

I will not try to repeat all the technical details, therefore I found a nice summary on a suitable website (see below). Anyways, Today I saw for the first time the famous Capybara on the plant site which is the largest rodent in the world, like a giant mutant guinea pig, lol. I am sure to see them again on my way and will take next time some pictures. I already love them… they are super cute!

Another interesting aspect is the fact that the dam is located in a “neutral zone” which does not belong neither to Brazil nor to Paraguay”, a bit similar to the Vatican in Italy. Having own regulations and even an own passport stamp which I was collecting at the end of the tour of course.

Technical Details:

“If Iguazu River is home to one of the seven wonders of nature, on the Paraná River, just 38 km away, is one of the seven wonders of engineering, according to a list prepared by the United States’ Civil Engineering Association, after hearing from specialists from around the world: the Itaipu Hydroelectric Plant, a joint development by Brazilians and Paraguayans.

Responsible for almost 20% of Brazil’s electricity consumption and more than 90% of Paraguay’s, Itaipu is gigantic in all senses of the word. The largest in the world in electricity generation, Itaipu is formed by a dam measuring 7,919 meters long and 196 meters high, the equivalent of a 65-floor building.

Construction of the dam consumed 12.3 million cubic meters of concrete, enough to build 210 football stadiums like Maracanã, in Rio de Janeiro. The iron and steel used was enough to construct 380 towers like the Eiffel Tower in Paris.

The plant’s spillway, used to drain water not used for generation, has the capacity to discharge 62,200 m3/s, 40 times more than the average flow of the Iguassu Falls.

Besides gigantic, since its foundation, Itaipu has manifested great care in the conservation of the environment. At the time of forming the reservoir, which covers an area of 1,350 km2, a large scale operation removed animals from the areas to be flooded, to be returned later to nature, in one of the biological sanctuaries and reserves created by Itaipu.

Constructed on an area previously devastated, on the Brazilian side, through agricultural practices, Itaipu launched the biggest reforestation program developed in the world by a hydroelectric development, planting over 20 million native tree seedlings in the reservoir’s protection area.

The actions also included the recovery of streams and springs throughout the Paraná 3 Basin, an area of direct or indirect influence in the reservoir.

More information:

Brazil: 0800 645 4645 /

Visits to the Plant 

Open to visits since 1977, while still under construction, the Itaipu Hydroelectric Plant has welcomed some 16 million visitors since then, on both the Brazilian and Paraguayan sides.”

(Source:, 19.07.2017)

Route from Foz do Iguacu to Itaipu