More wonders of the world: Itaipu dam

May 8, 2007 | By More

presadeiguazu.jpg

List-based books are definitely the flavour of the moment. And travel guides have joined in as well: with the royalties earned from the sales of 1,000 places to see before you die Patricia Schultz can retire and spend the rest of her life travelling around the globe. It is now the Rough Guide‘s turn. On their 25th anniversary, they have released a series of books of lists, one of which is called 25: Wonders of the World. On the list we find the usual suspects (the Forbidden City in Beijing, the Taj Mahal, the giants of Easter Island, Angkor Wat, the Perito Moreno glacier and other equally wonderful places). Bottom of the list, a surprising, if not not baffling, presence: Itaipu dam, in Foz de Iguazu.

To include Itaipu dam in a list of 25 wonders of the world can only be explained in two ways: first, less likely, whoever chose to include the dam is an engineer in love with megavats and the power of water in motion; my second theory, much more likely, is that whoever included Itaipu simply never visited the place.

This entry has only one purpose: to alert visitors to the area not to waste a single minute of their time visiting the dam and devote all their time in Iguazu to the truly wonderful falls. Visually, Iguazu dam is horrible. Do not expect to find a Hoover Dam and even less a Three Gorges Dam. Iguazu dam is flat and wide. When the spillway is closed (most of the time) it’s no more than a huge amount of concrete without any redeeming feature. There are no mountains around, there isn’t a spectacular gorge in the middle of which the dam was built. Nothing. It is not worth your time.

A few days ago I informed in this blog that the visit to the dam was no longer free.

Shame on you, Rough Guides! I strongly feel all lists are debatable. But I also feel there is a clear distinction between what can be argued and what is just blatantly ridiculous. To add insult to injury, the authors of the guide didn’t considery the mighty Iguazu falls worthy of inclusion on the very same list.

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Category: Destination: Iguazu, Destination: Paraná, News

Comments (5)

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  1. Joanne says:

    Not meaning too be rude but if you are stupid enough to believe that the wonders of the world are such because they are pretty you might need to reconsider!!!!!!
    The Itaipu Dam is a wonder of the world not only due to the sheer magnitude of the project- the materials used in this dam could make 380 eiffel towers and 15 channel tunnels – but because of multinational achievement of Brazil And Paraguay to work together to continuously produce such huge amounts of clean energy!

  2. Joanne says:

    Once again i really did not mean to be rude or offend i just felt what you implied might be a little harsh

  3. Tony says:

    Joanne, you’re certainly entitled to your own opinon. But whether you meant to offend or not, calling someone stupid because you don’t agree with what he’s saying is quite a poor way of arguing your case.

    To me, there is absolutely no question that beauty is part of the equation that leads to a place being described as a wonder. Otherwise, the big filthy industrial cities of the former Soviet Union would definitely be listed among the wonders of the world.

    You refer to the energy being produced at Itaipu as being “clean”. You are obviously unaware of the huge environmental disaster the construction of the dam represented for the region, with the disappearance of the mighty “Salto das Sete Quedas”, the biggest falls along the Paraná River, and the dead and forced dislocation of thousands of animals.

    As for cooperation between Brazil and Paraguay, the dam was possible because of military rule in both countries. The massive debt incurred by Brazil during the construction of the dam is still hindering its development in the XXI century.

    See, I don’t have to offend anybody to put my case forward.

  4. Joanne says:

    you are right there was no need for me to call you stupid and for that i apologise.
    I would like to say though, in this day an age with the problem facing and our environment,it should not be ignored the fact that the Itaipu dam is saving just under 70 million tons of CO2emissions – Brazil would have to burn 434 thousand barrels of petroleum a day to obtain from thermoelectric plants the same energy production as Itaipu.
    I am aware there was massive devastion to the environment, there is no denying the damage they did to the forests and wildlife is horrific but huge efforts were been made in attempt to to minimize these effects.

  5. Tony says:

    Apologies accepted, Joanne. First of all, I do agree with you in that, of all the options available to us, hydroelectric power is certainly more appealing than thermoelectric power. There is no question about that. But then, the huge potential Brazil has for the use of alternative energies is completely wasted (Alternative energy sources in Brazil).

    There is a new huge dam coming (Madeira), this time right in the middle of the Amazon region (Bolivia is already contesting the building of the massive dam). The prevailing opinion in Brazil is that environmentalists that oppose such projects are hindering the development of the nation – president Lula has said so repeatedly.

    The notion that we have to rationalize energy consumption is completely absent from the public agenda. Demand for energy is growing, thus we have to build more and more dams (and a third nuclear reactor at Angra dos Reis).

    The building of Itaipu fits in that notion of development and reminds me so much of the current state of affairs in China, where any environmentally-related issue is just simply ignored.

    Anyway, the bottom line of my blog entry was that I could not believe someone could list Itaipu dam as one of the 25 wonders of the world and not mention nearby Iguazu falls. To me, that’s ludicrous. And I strongly feel tourists visiting the dam will be terribly dissapointed when they do so (I’ve done it twice myself, accompanying friends and family).