Day 15: Foz do Iguaçu
Today we woke up and got ready for our tour of the Itaipu hydro-electric power plant. But first, breakfast! We went down to the restaurant expecting a quick bite to eat from a small buffet. When we got there, we were given an energy smoothie sample and a tour of the buffet. Needless to say, we will allot more time for breakfast tomorrow.
We then went to the lobby to meet our driver, Miguel. Before heading to the plant, we made a quick stop at an overlook of the falls. Since it was dark when we got in yesterday, this was our first full view. It was most definitely worth the detour. There have been some heavy rains in the past week and the falls are producing 3.5 million liters of water per second. Typically they produce 1-2 million liters per second (still a whole lot).
On the hour drive to the power plant, Miguel told us some facts about the plant and the area. Itaipu means ‘singing stone’ because when the water hit a stone island, it made a singing tone. We drove through the surprisingly large city, but since it was Sunday, not much was open. When we arrived, we joined a tour that gave an overview of the plant and stopped a few times at viewpoints. The dam is shared between Brazil and Paraguay. Part of the tour was technically on the Paraguay side in a neutral zone.
The plant is the global leader in power supply, producing two billion megawatts per minute. Only 20% of the energy is enough to power all of Paraguay. It is also among the largest power plants. The dam is 196 meters high and 8 kilometers long.
When we returned to the hotel, we had some time for lunch before our afternoon adventure of our totally favorite thing – boats. We signed up for a tour that started with a two kilometer ride through a forest area with some explanations of the flora. We then continued on foot to get down to the water level.
We boarded the boat and went through the rapids towards the falls. Of course, they try to make the ride as “fun” and wet as possible. We appreciated the ponchos.
The boat went close enough to the falls to very clearly feel the spray. We went back in a couple of times before heading back.
Rather than getting a ride for the three kilometers back to the hotel, we opted to walk back despite some reluctance from the Macuco people.
As it was approaching sunset, we walked out of the front of the hotel and found a path to get some views of the falls for sunset. Since the hotel is in the park, but the park closed to visitors at 5:00 pm, the lookout points were not very crowded. Only other hotel guests (and staff) were able to access the path.
When we returned, we relaxed by the pool before getting ready for tomorrow when we venture to the Argentina side of the falls.