Laja River

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Quick Facts

General Description

The Rio Laja River is located in the Bio Bio Region, Region VIII of Chile. The Laja River is a tributary of the Lower Bio Bio River and runs north of the city of Los Angeles. It is most famously known in Chile for its waterfall, “El Saltos del Laja”, a wide fifty meter drop that resembles Niagara Falls in the United States.

The headwaters of the Rio Laja can be found off the still active Volcan Antuco which last erupted in the 19th century. Volcan Antuco and its surroundings now comprise Laguna del La Laja National Park. The lake that is the park’s central feature was formed when a lava flow from Antuco cut off the Laja River and corked it, creating a natural dam. The Laja River now flows through this cork near the entrance of the park. The exact spot where the Laja River emerges from the rock is known as the “Nacimiento del Rio Laja” (The Birth of the Rio Laja).

The kayak run starts in the pool below Nacimiento del Rio Laja and goes a few kilometers downstream. Expect a steep drop, few eddies and a rather short run.


Scout this river thoroughly before running, it is not often kayaked and there are very few eddies in which to stop. High water and/or hidden debris can be a problem.

River Flows / Gauge Information / Season

The only real time data on the Rio Laja is a daily record of the lake volume supplied by MOP.

  • Reporting Station:
  • 08370007-6 Laguna de la Laja

This will not help kayakers determine the volume of the river. Paddlers who want to kayak this section will have to take their chances. Factor in the weather, what other rivers and creeks are doing in the same area and any beta that you can gather from the locals.

Rapid Descriptions


Put-Ins and Take-Outs

  • Put-in: Put-in at the "Nacimiento de Rio Laja". There will be about a 1 km trail walk to the river from the parking area.
  • Take-out: Usually the bottom lagoon, but let your pre-run scout determine where you take-out.


From the city of Los Angeles and the Pan American Highway (Ruta 5) take the International Highway (Ruta Q45) east toward the town of Antuco and Parque Nacional Laguna del Laja. The drive is about 60 miles (100 km) from Los Angeles to the park entrance. Other, more direct shortcuts exist (through the town of Huepil) if you are traveling south from the city of Chillan.

Places to Stay / Campgrounds

Camping sites are available in Parque Nacional Laguna de la Laja.

Maps & Outside Links




MOP Scalable Road Map

Copyright & Terms of Use

  • Copyrights: (Copyright © 2006, Expediciones Chile) All photos, maps, diagrams, text and computer code is the copyrighted property of Expediciones Chile with all rights reserved.

  • Terms of Use: Any type of reproduction, republication, or re-transmission for commercial use is prohibited without the expressed, written permission of Expediciones Chile. Users of this Wiki guidebook may print copies of the text, images and diagrams for personal river running use only. Users may not alter the diagrams or text without expressed written permission of Expediciones Chile. Users must read and acknowledge the disclaimer before printing. Printing implies acknowledgment of the disclaimer.


  • Disclaimer: Under no circumstances should paddlers substitute the information and diagrams in this guidebook for their own sound judgment on the river and their collective experience running rivers. The diagrams, maps and descriptions found here are only approximations of what paddlers will find on the river once they get to Chile or Argentina. They are not to scale and nor are they completely accurate. Water levels change, rocks move around, landslide debris can enter the river at any time making the diagrams obsolete. Expediciones Chile also reserves the right to update these diagrams and descriptions at any time as we find better ways to illustrate and discuss the rapids. Use this guidebook at your own risk.

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