Itaipú Dam, the second largest in the world, straddles Brazil and Paraguay just above Foz do Iguaçu, the Brazilian gateway to Iguazú Falls.
The superlatives go on and on, layered with a complex history of bilateral relations between Brazil and Paraguay, so delicate that the number of employees are divided exactly in half by nationality and the control room is half Portuguese and half Spanish.
Both nations run tours, the tours from Paraguay (visa required for most nationalities) are free but do not include access to the dam’s innards. The tours on the Brazilian side (visa also required for most nationalities, but most people in this area will already be in Brazil for the falls), are very well organized and include regular and ‘especial.’ Especial (USD$28) is the way to go, visiting the control room and dam’s innards; regular tours only take in views from the exterior and top. Riding through the parks up to the dam, watch for herds of capybara. Both tours run throughout the day from 09:00-16:00, Especial taking about 90 minutes, plus night lighting of the dam, and is a base for various other activities ranging from a planetarium to village tours.
There is no particular need to book a tour from a Foz do Iguaçu agency up to the dam, other than convenience of transport. It is about a 20-minute drive and taxis are plentiful from the city, BUT there are no taxis at the dam, only a confusing array of public buses, many of which do not go to the city center. Consider hiring a taxi to wait. In a hurry, I took a motorcycle taxi from the border and then spent quite some time trying to communicate and find the proper bus down to the city.