While Iguazú Falls has been named one of the seven wonders of the natural world, the cataracts drop a day trip away from an equally dazzling man-made wonder.
The Itaipu Dam, a concrete series of chutes and turbines nearly 5 miles wide and 735 feet high, produced more power than any dam in the world five years ago (94,684 megawatts for those keeping score at home).
Although the Three Gorges Dam in China has eclipsed Itaipu as the world’s largest dam, it’s still worth a visit to check out No. 2. The project, which celebrates its 30th anniversary next year, was a joint effort between Paraguay and Brazil with nearby Argentina entering an agreement with its neighbors on water use. It spans the Paraná River north of Ciudad del Este in Paraguay.
Dam officials show visitors a film in a comfortable theater (it’s narrated in Spanish, but still worth seeing for the vintage construction footage). After the movie, you board a tour bus and drive in and around the massive concrete testament to man’s ingenuity.
The 14 rooms are spacious with high ceilings and quiet porches. There’s a pool, a restaurant (meals included), an organic garden, wine cave, octagonal viewing tower, Paraná River overview deck and nearly 1,000 acres of jungle hiking trails.
With so few rooms, it’s often booked up. But if you’re flexible, it’s worth the roughly $275 a night (rates vary with seasons and different packages through travel agencies). Find more information at www.puertobemberg.com.
For more on Iguazu
You can access Iguazú Falls from either the Brazilian or Argentine side of the border-spanning waterfalls. The United Nations, which named the venue a World Heritage site, provides a good overview at http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/303