Water falls and hydro-electric power plant
The Ruacana Falls have their origin, like the Epupa Falls in the Kunene River, the border River between Namibia and Angola. Close to the village Ruacana the Kunene, coming from Angola makes a sharp bend to the west to form the border between Namibia and Angola until it flows into Atlantic Ocean at the Skeleton Coast.
At Ruacana the Kunene plummets into a 120 metre deep and 700 metre wide gorge and thus forms the impressive Ruacana Falls.
Two hydro-electric power plants have been built at the falls, the bigger of the two already in 1970 by South Africa, and the Kunene was dammed up accordingly. Although the Kunene is one of Namibia’s five perennial rivers, its water levels depend on the fluctuating annual rainfalls in the Angolan Highlands and on the opening of the two sluices regulating the water supply for the power plants.
The full strength of the falls can best be experienced during high water. Due to the Calueque Dam in Angola 40 km upstream the water levels are normally very low at Ruacana. Nonetheless the Falls have not lost any of their fascination and are still a touristic highlight (during high water in April / May).
At the lower course of the river white water rafting and canoe rides can be booked, but due to the large amount of crocodiles in the river swimming is not advisable!