Colombia has an incredible wealth of natural treasures and the site of Caño Cristales is one the most spectacular in the country. It lies in a region known as La Serrania de la Macarena, and it is the most colorful river in the world. The water, sometimes described as “the river that is flowing out of paradise” offers a beautiful and unique natural phenomenon.
During the rainy season the depth of the river and the relatively strong flow ensure that the moss and algae in the water don’t receive the necessary sunlight. Similarly in the dry season there is too little water for these aquatic plants. But just in between these two periods, when the water level is at the right height, the algae and moss flourish creating a spectrum of colors that cannot be seen anywhere else on the planet. The blossoming plants create an explosion of colors, especially layers of yellow, black, blue, red and green cover the bottom and banks. The best time to visit Caño Cristales is from June until November.
Off the beaten track
The part of the river where you will witness this natural spectacle is quite isolated and not easily accessible. Because you can get to this place using the main public roads. If you’re adventurous, it is possible to go on foot or to travel by horse or donkey to the river. In order to protect nature, only be marked paths may be used and it is no longer possible to camp in the area. From Bogota, you will first have to travel to Villavicencio. There you will take an avioneta (small plane) and we fly to the settlement of Macarena. Macarena is situated on the River Guayabero.
The journey of Macarena to Caño Cristales is in three steps, namely, thirty minutes by boat from the Guayabero River, thirty minutes over land in a 4×4 vehicle and finally thirty minutes on foot.
Rich flora and fauna
The river flows through La Serrania de la Macarena, a large Colombian nature reserve which extends over a length of 130 kilometers and a width of thirty kilometers. According to scientists the region is home to the richest flora and fauna in the world.
The hikes you can take in this area are incredible and the paths go through forest and open areas along the river. Occasionally you may have to swim a small part to reach special and hidden places. On the way to the main site you are able to take beautiful pictures. The route through the rocky river is easy to walk.
The brilliant colors of the underwater plants and the differences in depths of the river can not be described. You can not believe your eyes on these sightings. The river turns bright red in some places, bright green, dark pink and hard. This really is something you have to witness is person. Keep in mind that this phenomenon cannot be witnessed all year round.