Laja Falls, locally referred to as Salto del Laja, is a mesmerizing waterfall that is formed from the Laja River in the south-central part of the Republic of Chile. Located more precisely in the northern part of the Biobío Region between the cities of Los Ángeles and Chillán, Laja Falls is considered to be one of the most significant icons that should never be missed whenever in the area.
Still, the spectacular cascade is located alongside the famous Pan-American Highway that transverses the Americas, it is formed by the Laja River after which it was named, where the river flows into a deep rocky canyon that has been drilled into by raging rapids. The waterfall has formed a significantly narrow canyon, and it consists of four horseshoe-shaped falls, with the tallest being 35 m (115 ft) in height.
Some stories say that the land where the waterfall is located belonged to the Araucanos, more commonly referred to as the Mapuche indigenous inhabitants, and this was their site of worship where the elders would gather to meditate, quite often chewing pine nuts, and wait on the young adults to “turn into men” by simply crossing from one to the other side of the largest waterfall.
Unfortunately, when the Spanish conquistadors arrived, numerous wars were going on between the Mapuche and Pehuenche tribes that inhabited the land, which then continued with the Spanish, but afterward, with the parley assisted by the conquistadors, the area became known as one of the natural boundaries of the territories known as Laja Island.
Due to its natural beauty and significant historical importance, Laja Falls have become way too commercialized place that saw somewhat changes from its initial surrounding, as some structures were built in its vicinity and with the influx of local visitors and tourists alike, it started getting a bit overcrowded, but fortunately, the local representatives took initiatives to protect this amazing place.
Nowadays, this significant natural landmark can be accessed by foot through a footbridge that allows for water drops to splash every visitor, and as it is featured on the majority of touristic and promotional material, Laja Falls have become a Chilean symbol that should not be missed whenever in this amazing nation of South America.
All in all, even though not the great Niagara Falls, Laja Falls is a natural wonder from the Chilean Andes that will make certainly every visitor feel like they are in for a great adventure, even though visitors are just admiring them from a distance.