At one time, Ruacana Falls was a guaranteed wonder, though all that changed thanks to Angola’s Calueque Dam, 20km upstream, and NamPower’s Ruacana power plant. On the rare occasion when there’s a surfeit of water, Ruacana returns to its former glory. In wetter years, it’s no exaggeration to say it rivals Victoria Falls – if you hear that it’s flowing, you certainly won’t regret a trip to see it (and it may be the closest you ever get to Angola).
At all other times, the little water that makes it past the first barrage is collected by an intake weir, 1km above the falls, which ushers it into the hydroelectric plant to turn the turbines.
To reach the falls, turn north 15km west of Ruacana and follow the signs towards the border crossing. To visit the gorge, visitors must temporarily exit Namibia by signing the immigration register. From the Namibian border crossing, bear left (to the right lies the decrepit Angolan border crossing) to the end of the road. There you can look around the ruins of the old power station, which was destroyed by Namibian liberation forces. The buildings are pockmarked with scars from mortar rounds and gunfire, providing a stark contrast to the otherwise peaceful scene.