This small town in the north of the country perches on the border with Angola, about 291km (mostly gravel) from Kamanjab and about 200km west of Oshakati. It owes its existence to the big hydro-electric dam that is built at a narrow gorge in the river and supplies over half of the country's electric power. This is of major economic and strategic importance, so the road from Tsumeb/Ondangwa is good tar all the way.
At Ruacana there's a BP petrol station, with the only fuel for miles, a general store and a large school. The town's nucleus feels quite modern, but there are no other facilities, and few visitors pass through.
The Ruacana Falls used to be an attraction for visitors, but now the water only flows over them when the dam upstream in Angola allows it to, and even then much is diverted through a series of sluices to the hydro-electric station on the border. The falls are well signposted in no-man's-land, so technically you have to exit the country to see them. However, at the large and under-used border post (opens 06.00–18.00) you can do so temporarily, signing a book rather than going through the full emigration procedures. Be careful when taking photographs: ask permission and don't take pictures of anything apart from the falls. This border area is still very sensitive.
West of Ruacana
West of Ruacana is the Kaokoveld. There is a road directly from Ruacana along the Kunene, for about 125km as far as Epupa Falls. However, its latter stages are very, very rough – taking me three days of painstaking driving on one occasion. Nothing west of Ruacana should be attempted without a self-sufficient two-vehicle party of rugged 4WD vehicles.