Marvel at the Enigmatic, Vibrantly Colored Rivers of Colombia
With its marvelous display of vibrant and peculiar hues, the Cano Cristales River has become one of the most captivating tourist destinations in Colombia, South America.
As a unique natural wonder, unparalleled anywhere else in the world, Cano Cristales goes by several names such as the “River of Five Colors,” the “River of Heaven,” or the “Most Beautiful River in the World.” This nearly 100-kilometer-long river is located within the Serranía de la Macarena National Park in the Meta province of Colombia.
For the majority of the year, Cano Cristales, like many other rivers, appears similar to its counterparts. Its bed is covered in a green carpet of moss clinging to various rocks, and the fast-flowing river is accompanied by waterfalls and rocky crevices. The water here is so clear that you can see the riverbed.
However, during the transition between the rainy and dry seasons, which typically occurs from June to November, the river receives a wondrous gift bestowed by Mother Nature, causing an explosion of vibrant colors. The usual green hue of Cano Cristales transforms into an array of different shades. This phenomenon is a result of the reproductive process of the macarenia clavigera, an aquatic plant belonging to the podostemaceae family that thrives in the river.
Depending on temperature, water levels, and sunlight, the macarenia clavigera shifts from vibrant green to vivid red, golden orange, and dark brown. These colors, combined with the golden sand, green moss, and dark patches from the crevices, create a remarkable and resplendent painting. The unique spectacle of nature will leave you astonished and enthralled.
This phenomenon is almost unheard of elsewhere in the world. Located in the Andes mountain range, where the basins of the Amazon and Orinoco rivers converge, the region through which the river flows is renowned for its biodiversity, boasting favorable environmental conditions for the vigorous growth and development of numerous organisms.
Cano Cristales is situated in a remote area, not easily accessible by road. Arriving by plane in the town of La Macarena, you will then travel to the Serrania de la Macarena National Park, where guides will direct you to the Cano Cristales River. Visitors are only allowed to explore, take photographs, and swim in designated areas, while the use of sunscreens is strictly prohibited to protect the delicate ecological environment. Additionally, overnight stays and cooking are not permitted for tourists.
To capture the perfect photograph, it is advisable to monitor the weather forecast regularly. Cloudy skies hinder the sun’s rays from illuminating the river, resulting in less vibrant colors. Similarly, an extended period without rain and decreased water levels can lead to the demise of certain aquatic species and cause the macarenia clavigera to transition from vivid red to brown.