How to Visit Itaipu Dam from Paraguay and Brazil
Itaipu Dam is the world's second-biggest dam which lies on the border between two South American countries, Paraguay and Brazil. Are you planning on visiting the dam? Read our travel guide on how to get to Itaipu Dam from either Paraguay and Brazil, how much things cost and whether it is better to travel on own or with a tour.
Chances are that you've already heard about Itaipu Dam, a hydroelectric plant on river Parana shared between Paraguay and Brazil. But did it cross your mind, that you can visit it? Probably not. We believe that only geeks would have traveled to the borders of these two South American countries to see this impressive technical attraction.
Although Itaipu Dam is the second-largest in the world, and the first when it comes to producing energy in an hour, not many people would revolve the itinerary around visiting this sight.
Luckily, only several kilometers away from Itaipu Dam are one of the most famous waterfall systems in the world, so you can combine visiting Foz do Iguazu in Brazil with the tour to Itaipu Dam, or you can stay in Ciudad del Este in Paraguay (which surprisingly also offers plenty of things to do), and visit the hydroelectric plant from there.
We have visited Itaipu Dam independently from Ciudad del Este, but we share our guide on how to get to the dam also from Brazil side, how much things cost, where to stay, and also some interesting information about the hydroelectric plant.
Even when numbers do not astound you, and even without knowing how much power Itaipu Dam generates, it is pretty impressive to know that Itaipu Dam is responsible for 80% of the electricity the country of Paraguay needs, and for 20% of electricity Brazil requires every day.
We are not exaggerating when we say that the dam is crucial for hundreds of thousands of people every day.
The name ‘itaipu’ comes from Guarani language and it means a rock that sounds.
VISITING ITAIPU DAM INDEPENDENTLY VS WITH A TOUR
First, it is necessary to say that it is impossible to go inside the dam complex on own. It is a busy working station, and you must join a tour to get inside, and once inside, you need to follow the designated path, which means you will spend most of the time on a bus.
Still, you can technically visit Itaipu Dam independently, but the only independent part is getting to the dam by public transport, taxi or rental car. Once you get to the visitors center in either Paraguay or Brazil, you need to go inside with a guide.
Paraguay | Visiting the complex of Itaipu Dam from Paraguay is more budget-friendly than from Brazil as tours inside the complex are free. You can choose how you want to see the dam. You can take either the standard tour which includes a short film about the dam in Spanish with English subtitles and a guided sightseeing bus (in Spanish only) which will take you around the dam, or you can take a more technical tour which will take you inside the control center, but it must be booked a couple of days ago via this email. Except for the technical tour you can only show up, there is no need to reserve anything in advance.
Brazil | As not many people travel to Paraguay, especially in comparison with Brazil, it cannot take you by surprise that this side of the dam is more touristy. Once in the visitor center, you can also choose from two options, Either take the classic Panoramic tour for R 42 when the bus will take you around the complex, or the Special tour for R 128 which will take you to the heart of the plant. It is better to reserve your spot online in advance.
It does not matter if you plan on visiting Itaipu Dam from Paraguay or Brazil side, you need to take your ID with you, or you can only have a screenshot on your phone as we had.
If you do not want to deal with transport to the dam and then arrange the excursion in the visitor center on own, it is possible to reserve a guided tour from Foz do Iguazu which includes the admission ticket as well.
OUR VISIT OF ITAIPU DAM
As we traveled to Itaipu Dam from Ciudad del Este, we arrived at the entrance by bus, went inside the visitor center, to find out that the free tour starts in only 20 minutes.
First, we went to the cinema to watch a quite entertaining short film about the construction of the dam, about its achievements, and we also learned some impressive numbers. What we found interesting was the fact, that apart from generating energy, the dam is the major employer in the region (which is quite obvious), and that apart from tourism activities the management of the dam works in social services as they build schools and houses for poor families. Of course, the dam doesn’t have only a positive impact, but the project at least tries to compensate the negatives.
After the film with English subtitles, we jumped on a bus, which should take us around the complex and show us some of the highlights. Every bus has a guide, but ours spoke only Spanish, so we could only guess what is the speech about - luckily we just had seen the film.
The bus took us inside the complex, and because Itaipu Dam is a normal work station, we could see office buildings and also many people who were just having a lunch break. We also need to mention here that all the coaches in the Itaipu Dam work on electricity, and the place is very modern.
There is only one stop inside the complex where it is possible to get out the bus, and this moment come after approximately 10 minutes when the bus stops on the main lookout from where is a panoramic view of the floodgates which were closed at the time of our visit, the main dam structure and the main source, Parana river in the distance.
Then the bus continues through the complex, but it does not stop anymore, so if you want to take some photos, sit upstairs as there are no windows on the sides. We could again see administrative buildings, locks which ensure the water flows through only in specific times, many cables, and then the bus drove on a wall from where we had a perfect view of the large lake which was created by the dam construction.
Then, the bus drove us back to the visitor center, from where we took a bus back to Ciudad del Este.
HOW TO GET TO ITAIPU DAM FROM PARAGUAY
Not many people traveling around South America make it to Paraguay.
The country, in comparison with other countries on the continent, does not have that much to offer, but we decided to give it a chance. Itaipu Dam is best visited from Ciudad del Este, the true border city, popular for cheap shopping. From the city center, you need to take a regular public bus going to Hernandarias.
Ask your driver to be dropped off at the visitors center, but also have your GPS on to check your location.
The bus goes via many suburbs, and the bus stops approximately 1 kilometer from the entrance to Itaipu Dam, so we got off, and walked a bit to get to the plant complex. One ride by bus costs Gs 3000 and takes approximately 45 minutes.
To get back to Ciudad del Este, you need to walk again to the main road, and flag down any bus going to the center.
Of course, there is an option to take a taxi or travel in your rental car.
WHERE TO STAY IN CIUDAD DEL ESTE
Ciudad del Este is the city right on the border with Brazil, so it is a bit dirty, you can find here many shops, both legal and illegal, but for sure you will find here quite a large selection of hotels for every budget.
We've handpicked three hotels in the city to suit every type of traveler.
Budget | Sur Brasil - This hotel offers basic, but clean rooms close to the bus terminal for all traveling on a tight budget.
Mid-range | Hotel Convair - A four-star hotel offering amazing, simple and clean accommodation for the unbeatable price.
Luxury | Howard Johnson Ciudad del Este - Beautifully appointed rooms, free wifi, breakfast and pool on the roof overlooking the city are some of the features this hotel has to offer.
HOW TO GET TO ITAIPU DAM FROM BRAZIL
Probably the most common way how to get to Itaipu Dam from Brazil's side is to arrange a one-day tour (which is usually combined with the falls), but if you want to travel independently, you do not need to worry, there is an easy way how to do it.
The base for visiting Itaipu Dam is Foz do Iguazu, so you can combine the visit of the hydroelectric plant with the must-do trip to Iguazu Falls.
A regular bus to the dam leaves regularly from Foz do Iguazu bus terminal. You need to buy the bus ticket for R 3.25 and can ask staff what bus you need to take, but it should be number 101, 102, or 104. It takes approximately 30 minutes to get to the gate.
WHERE TO STAY IN FOZ DO IGUAZU
Foz do Iguazu is one of the most touristy cities in Brazil because of the must-visit waterfalls, so you won't have a problem to find a room here, but you need to book it in advance to secure accommodation for a reasonable price.
Budget | Suite Cardoso - Basic hostel, close to the bus station is nothing you would write home about, but in such a touristy place, it is relieving to find cheap accommodation.
Mid-range | CLH Suites Foz do Iguazu - Modern hostel offers both dormitories and private rooms, is centrally located and features free wifi.
Luxury | Continental Inn Hotel - One of the best picks in Foz do Iguazu has outdoor pool and sauna, jacuzzi while it is still close to all important points in the town.
Alternatively, search for your accommodation via Hostelworld.
WHAT TO PACK FOR VISITING ITAIPU DAM
Weather on both sides of the Itaipu dam is hot and humid, and it can rain later in the afternoon, especially during the wet season. As the visit to the plant is a half-day trip, here are five essential things you should pack.
Have we inspired you to travel to South America and visit all of the unique and must-see places on the continent?
Here you can find links to all the services you might find useful when planning your big trip.
We've written a full post on What to Pack for South America to help you sort out what to pack and what to leave behind.
If safety is your biggest concern, check out this post Is It Safe to Travel to South America? where you will find safety tips and advice.
When looking for flight tickets you can search Skyscanner to find the best price.
TRAVEL INSURANCE - SIMPLE & FLEXIBLE
We never leave our home without travel insurance which is designed to help cover your expenses if something goes wrong on your trip. World Nomads Travel Insurance has been designed by travelers for travelers, to cover your trip essentials.
Travel smarter and safer!