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Laja Falls

Laja Falls (Chile) from above - two eastern falls
Laja Falls from above – two eastern falls / Johan Paquay, / CC BY 2.0

WorldBlue  In short

Once it was a sacred place to Araucans but now – a commercialized site with hotels and diverse tourist attractions. But the main value of the site – Laja Falls – has not changed.

7.2 out of 10 stars 71.7%

GPS coordinates
37.2157 S 72.3832 W
Location, address
South America, Chile, VIII Biobío, some 32 km north from Los Ángeles
Name in Spanish
Salto del Laja
35 m (the main waterfall)
Tallest single drop
35 m
110 m, 95 m (easternmost falls) and 85 m, 165 m (Salto Chico)
Rio Laja

Map of the site

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WorldYellow In detail

Four horseshoe waterfalls

Shortly before the falls Laja River becomes wide, shallow, and slow. A large island divides it into two arms and shortly before the falls each of these arms again is divided into two even smaller arms.

On each of these four smaller streams have formed waterfalls.

The two smaller falls – Salto Chico – are located on the southern arm of Laja River. The width of these falls is approximately 85 and 165 m, height – approximately 20 m.

The two more impressive falls are located on the northern arm, 1.3 km to the west from Salto Chico. These falls are higher – the most impressive one – the westernmost is 35 m tall and approximately 110 m wide. The other one is approximately 95 m wide.

Laja Falls in Chile - the tallest, easternmost fall
Laja Falls – the tallest, easternmost fall / Marco Correa, / public domain

Thus the total width is these falls is very impressive – approximately 455 m!

Both arms of Laja River meet soon after the falls and for the next 4 km the stream continues in a narrow, 20 m wide gorge.


There are stories that this impressive natural landmark was a sacred place for the local Araucan people. The young Araucans had to prove their manhood by walking along the upper rim of the larger falls but the older ones meditated here.

White people came here relatively late, in 1756.

Just like in the case of many other large waterfalls, Laja Falls have served as an anchor for the development of the tourist industry. Now this site is heavily commercialized, with numerous hotels and tourist attractions.

Well, maybe the commercial buzz around the site has taken away some part of its natural charm – but it gives jobs to many people. And – the water still is falling and no one has taken away the eternal rainbow playing in the mist of falls.


  1. Wild Waters, Accessed in 04.01.2012.
  2. Saltos del Laja. Accessed in 04.01.2012.

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Some of the most fascinating and awe-inspiring natural monuments are waterfalls or locations where a river abruptly changes its elevation.

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There is little doubt – South America is one of the most spectacular… maybe the most spectacular continent of the world.

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