Thursday, February 20, 2014

The dam, the birds

I know what I’m going here, I’m putting off a post about Iguacu Falls.  And I know why.  I know, no matter how hard I think about it I won’t be able to come up with words to do them justice. So today we’re skirting around the falls, visiting other places in the area.

Opposite the end of the road into our hostel is Parque das Aves, a bird park set amongst over 40 acres of forest.  There are over 500 birds from 150 species, both indigenous and from other continents and, in most cases, visitors can be in contact with them without restriction of netting and cages.   Some of them did appear to be actually posing for the cameras.  I was thrilled by the exotic colours of birds I’ve only ever seen in pictures.

I really like this park, the paths are well maintained, everything in the surroundings feels natural.  And a big plus, it has water stations scattered around where we could top up our water bottles.   Why other tourist attractions don’t provide them is beyond me.  I guess they want your tourist dollar.   


Our day out to visit Itaipu was shared with James and Kelly from Sydney who were on the last leg of their 3 month long honeymoon in South America.  Couldn’t have asked for better company.

Something went wrong with our booking and we couldn’t do the tour of the inside of the dam but we were able to do the external bus tour and watch the video show.  Unfortunately, the commentary on the video was in Portuguese with Spanish sub titles so wasn’t much help to me.

This was what I call a bloke’s tourist attraction, it seems to me that men appreciate facts and figures more than I do although I couldn’t help but appreciate the magnitude of the operation.  Itaipú is one of the Seven Wonders of the Modern World, according to a worldwide survey conducted by the American Society of Civil Engineers.

It's a joint venture between Brasil and Paraguay and stands on the border of the two countries.

The total length of the dam is 7235 m. The crest elevation is 225 m.
The spillway has a length of 483 m.
The dam is 196 metres high, equivalent to a 65-story building.

 For the construction, the course of the seventh biggest river in the world was shifted, as were 50 million tons of earth and rock.
The amount of concrete used to build the Itaipu Power Plant would be enough to build 210 football stadiums the size of the Estadio do Maracana.  

The iron and steel used would allow for the construction of 380 Eiffel Towers.
The volume of excavation of earth and rock in Itaipu is 8.5 times greater than that of the Channel Tunnel and the volume of concrete is 15 times greater.
Around forty thousand people worked in the construction.

 And what they didn’t tell us:
When construction of the dam began, approximately 10,000 families living beside the Paraná River were displaced.
The world's largest waterfall by volume, the Guaira Falls, was drowned by the newly formed Itaipu reservoir. The Brazilian government liquidated the Guaíra Falls National Park, and dynamited the submerged rock face where the falls had been, facilitating safer navigation, thus eliminating the possibility of restoring the falls in the future. A few months before the reservoir was filled, 80 people died when an overcrowded bridge overlooking the falls collapsed, as tourists sought a last glimpse of the falls.


  1. The bird park appeals to me immensely. The dam just makes the mind boggle. As with many of these gargantuan civil engineering works the fall-out in human terms just gets ignored on the alter of 'progress' from which many benefit.

  2. The birds are fantastic and exotic.

    I read all about the dam or nearly all. I nodded off.

    I woke up for the last bit. I wonder if it was worth the cost.

  3. I hate the scars that we have placed on the face of the earth and South American is a big player in this desecration. Still, you had a magnificent trip.


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