Caño Cristales

Caño Cristales or Crystal Channel or the River of Five Colors or the Liquid Rainbow is a tributary of the Guayabero River that is considered the most beautiful river in the world because of its striking colors in Serranía de la Macarena, Meta Department, Colombia. The river bed is yellow, green, blue, black and red from late July to November where red is caused by Macarenia clavigera plant at the bottom of the river.

Caño Cristales is part of Serrania de la Macarena National Park. Quartzite rocks from Serrania de la Macarena tableland formed about 1.2 billion years ago as a western extension of the Guiana Shield of Venezuela which includes Caño Cristales as a river with a length of 100 kilometers.

Xvlor Caño Cristales Caño Cristales

It is a fast-flow river system with many rapids and waterfalls that make up many small circular holes. Large basins are formed by gravel or harder rock pieces. Hard rock fragments that fall into one of the cavities will be rotated by the water current and start carving on the cavity wall and increasing the hole dimension.

Serranía de la Macarena located on the border of three major ecosystems is the Andes, the Eastern Llanos, and the Amazon rainforest. Each one has a high diversity of flora and fauna where plant and animal life struggle with lack of nutrients on solid rock surfaces in the highlands and has developed various adaptations.

Bioma in Serranía de La Macarena is a hydrophytic rain forest in hot, warm, and cold temperatures. The tableland is home to 420 species of birds, 10 species of amphibians, 43 species of reptiles, and 69 primates. The Caño Cristales River has a wide variety of aquatic plants that live in little nutrients and small particles.

The bright red color of the trough comes after a period of rain in late July to November. This color is caused by a large mass of endemic plant species Macarenia clavígera which is also found in several local rivers including Caño Siete Machos. This red plant attaches tightly to the rocks where the river has a faster flow.

M. clavigera needs the right conditions including the right water level and just the right amount of sunlight to create a bright color. The dry season in January to May, Caño Cristales is closed for tourists to provide an ecological rest area. The rivers dry up and force M. clavigera into a colorless hibernation.

Many of the nuances of M. clavigera. The red color moves from pale pink to pink fire and blood red to maroon is the most common color. But other plants will turn bright green in a shaded area and will be visible in blue, yellow and orange. Caño Cristales

Xvlor Caño Cristales

Location: Meta Department, Colombia.

Routes and public transport: The flight to La Macarena airport in La Macarena town, then booked a tour with a local tour guide because tourists are not allowed to enter the national park themselves. You can also book tours from a tour agency in Bogotá.

Advice: The Caño Cristales colors can only be seen in mid-May to early December. You are not allowed to use sunscreen or mosquito repellent while swimming to protect water plants and groups of no more than seven people. There is only one ATM in La Macarena, bring enough cash for the trip.

Most tours range from 2-4 days and will take you to other areas of the national park. Another important destination is the Angostura I waterfall on the Guayabero and Caño Cafre rivers that are surrounded by rocky edges with large numbers of petroglifos. Other waterfalls in El Gato or Sopla Culos are hard to spot due to the steep topography.

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