Caño Cristales: Colombia’s Symphony of Colours

(Credit: Colombia Travel)

At the heart of Colombia‘s Serranía de la Macarena lies Caño Cristales, nicknamed “the rainbow river” or “the river of five colours”.  This natural jewel, unique in the world, offers a breathtaking visual spectacle that amazes every visitor.


An incomparable natural phenomenon

(Crédit : Mario Carvajal /

(Credit: Mario Carvajal / fotur)

The magic of Caño Cristales lies in its astonishing palette of colours. For a short period between June and November, the river is transformed into a mosaic of hues ranging from yellow, green, blue, black and, above all, bright red. This phenomenon is due to the presence of endemic aquatic plants, in particular the Macarenia clavigera, which, when it matures, gives the river its characteristic red hue.


A Fragile and Protected Ecosystem

(Crédit : Mario Carvajal / fotur)

(Credit: Mario Carvajal / fotur)

The Serranía de la Macarena region, where Caño Cristales flows, is an area of exceptional biodiversity. It is the meeting point of three major ecosystems: the Amazon rainforest, the eastern plains and the Andes. This ecological convergence means that Caño Cristales is home to a varied and often endemic flora and fauna.

Aware of this wealth, the Colombian government has introduced measures to protect and preserve this natural treasure. Access to the river is regulated, and visitors are encouraged to adopt environmentally-friendly behaviour.


A trip off the beaten track

Getting to Caño Cristales is an adventure in itself. The river is located close to the small town of La Macarena. To get there, you need to fly from Bogotá to La Macarena, then take a river boat across the Guayabero river, followed by a walk through the rainforest. This relative inaccessibility guarantees an authentic experience, far from the tourist crowds.


Cultural inspiration

(Credit: Adidas/Federación Colombiana de Futbol)

The beauty of Caño Cristales is not limited to its colourful waters. It has also inspired a number of cultural initiatives. For example, the Colombian women’s football team wore an outfit inspired by the vibrant colours of the river during the last World Cup in 2023, a testament to the cultural and symbolic importance of this site.


More than a River: A Region to Discover

Beyond the multicoloured river, the region abounds in other wonders. Hikers can explore other natural sites such as Caño Piedra, La Laguna del Silencio and the Mirados.

The region’s ancient history is etched in the petroglifos of Angostura, rock engravings made by the indigenous Guayaberos and Tiniguas peoples. The local culture is also rich, with a unique gastronomy and performances of joropo and llaneros songs that reflect the vaquera soul of the region.


Caño Cristales is a hymn to the beauty of nature, a reminder of our planet’s rich biodiversity and a symbol of Colombia’s resilience. Every year, travellers from all over the world are drawn to this natural spectacle, seeking to enjoy a unique experience and connect with the majesty of nature. If you’re looking for a unique destination that combines adventure, beauty and wonder, Caño Cristales is waiting for you.




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