Located in Chile's Bío-Bío region, between Los Angeles and Chillán, the Salto del Laja, or Laja Falls, is a set of four waterfalls along Chile's Laja River. This popular tourist attraction offers a variety of viewing options and many types of tours and other activities. Whether you see the Salto del Laja by driving over a bridge or by taking a guided boat tour, the panoramas will be great.
The Laja Falls lie next to the Pan-American Highway and are just twenty miles south of the city of Los Angeles, making them easy to reach. Additionally, they are also a convenient and interesting pit stop for travelers heading to or leaving Chillán. From Route 5, you can reach Salto del Laja Chile by driving along a bypass that reaches a small concrete bridge. There the main waterfall, with a height of about 115 feet, can be viewed well from the bridge.
In addition to the main waterfall that is most frequently photographed, there are also three other smaller falls that can be accessed by a foot bridge, which also afford great photo-taking opportunities. The Laja Falls are a result of the Laja River descending into a rocky canyon. The spray created from the crashing water often results in rainbows, and adventurous travelers can take a motorboat tour in the river to appreciate the falls from a different perspective.
Because the Salto del Laja is so heavily touristed, there are numerous options for accommodations in the area, including hotels, inns, cabins, and camping. One hotel is the Salto del Laja hotel, which features a restaurant, two swimming pools, a Jacuzzi, and a private deer park. The hotel is also happy to arrange horseback riding, swimming, fishing, and nature tours. Camping sites at Salto del Laja Chile include the Parque Salto del Laja, and Los Manantiales.
In addition to simply viewing the falls at Salto del Laja Chile, visitors can enjoy swimming, river rafting, hiking, and horseback riding. If white-water kayaking is your style, know that the Laja River, which originates in the Andes and runs westward through the Chilean Central Valley, is considered Class 5—a very thrilling and steep run.
Although the site is heavily touristed now, it's said that back when the Araucanos, an indigenous people also known as Mapuche, controlled the area, the falls were once a spiritual site, where elders would meditate and chew pine nuts and youths would attempt to cross the river on foot to signify their coming-of-age.
The beautiful Laja Falls are easy to reach from Los Angeles and Chillán, and are a real treat no matter how you choose to see them. If you choose to stay in the area a bit longer, there are several options for dining and hotels, as well as many outdoors attractions, ranging from swimming and fishing and to horseback riding and nature tours. Whatever you choose to do at the Laja Falls, the stunning waterfalls alone are sure to make your visit to this popular Chile attraction very memorable.