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Each journey begins with a single step... Two kiwis escaping from the island to explore strange new worlds and boldly go where thousands have gone before... . .

Itaipu Dam near Ciudad del Este, Paraguay

PARAGUAY | Saturday, 12 December 2009 | Views [1441]

Costs pp: Bus to and from Cuidad del Este 5p each way, local bus to the dam was the equivalent of US$.50c, tour of the dam free.

Caught the bus at the terminal in Puerto Iguazu just a couple of blocks from our hostel. It took us to the Argentine border where we were given an exit stamp in the passport, they process a huge amount of people per day and are very efficient. The bus then entered Brasil but didn't stop at any border point on its way to Paraguay, they have an agreement that the bus does not stop nor open its doors and that way everyone can ignore the fact that anyone ever was there. Neither did we stop at the Paraguayan border, there are a phenomenal amount of people going there to shop and if you want to actually enter the country you have to get off the bus at the border and catch another one after doing the entry. We joined in the game and carried on on our bus without doing any entry.

We went across on Saturday which meant that instead of the journey taking half an hour it took over an hour, this is because every man and his dog is coming from everywhere to do their christmas shopping. The roads were packed with cars, trucks and buses, people on mototaxis (motorbikes) had the best ride just zooming past all the other traffic. On the Paraguay side of the border a long line of people with huge amounts of purchases waited in line to declare their goods and return home.

As usual the border is on a river (Parana) and across the bridge were huge Duty Free stores beckoning. We carried on with our bus which dropped us in town. We talked to a guy on the bus who told us about Itaipu and how to get there and when we got off walked with us to catch the next bus there.

Now of course we didn't have any Paraguayan money 'Gurianas' so we asked to pay in any other currency and ended up paying with a US$1 note for us both, the first note had a small tear so was unacceptable but the second was ok. The bus dropped us just down the road from the dam and when we got there we discovered as with the rest of SA it closed at lunchtime so we sat in the cool and waited for 2pm its opening time.

The dam has approximately 1500 visitors every day and owns a fleet of buses which ship the tourists around the site. First we were treated to a film which was in spanish but we got the gist and could follow the numbers given to some extent. In 2008 the plant generated a record 94.68 billion kilowatt-hours (kWh), supplying 90% of the energy consumed by Paraguay and 19% of that consumed by Brazil. Here is a website with some more info:

http://www.solar.coppe.ufrj.br/itaipu.html

We (us and about a dozen others) were loaded onto the bus and taken to a couple of vantage points on both sides of the dam where we could get off and take photos. At no time did we ever get very close to it and be allowed out of the bus. After the first view point above the spillway we were driven across the lower side of the dam in front of the huge turbine inlets and to another viewpoint looking directly at the spillway. The runoff down the spillway was creating a huge wave which looked spectacular. Then it was across the top of the dam and back to the info centre again.

Caught another local bus into town, this time they wouldn't accept a US$1 and took all the brasilian coins we had instead which amounted to about 1.85 rs. In town we wandered around and looked through the markets then caught the last bus back to Puerto Iguazu at 7pm.

 

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