Caño Cristales, also known as the “River of Five Colors” or the “Liquid Rainbow”, is a river flowing in Sierra de la Macarena nature reserve, between the Andes and the Amazon in northern Colombia. 

It springs from the Andes Mountains, covering an area of 100 square kilometers before reaching river Guyabero. It has a unique feature that makes it one of a kind. In certain periods of the year, it’s populated by colorful algae whose tones emerge beyond the transparency of the water. Red, blue, green and purple are just some of the colors that enable Caño Cristales to transform into a work of art.

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Image credit: Mario Carvajal (

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From September to November, the algae that can be found in many, many places in the river, is called macarenia clavigera. This plant creates a variety of colors from red to green, yellow and black. 

The Colombian river transforms and the spectacular phenomenon can be seen only in autumn, when the water level allows algae to be heated by the sun without being dry.

The algae and mosses are carried by currents for tens of kilometers, creating a rainbow of colors with fascinating shades. One time, the area was considered very dangerous due to the presence of guerrillas of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC). 

Today it has become a very popular tourist destination, a place where colors play to form beautiful artistic compositions with thousands of shades.

Image credit: Mario Carvajal (

Image credit: Mario Carvajal (

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Apart from this amazing spectacle of nature, the area also has La Macarena rocks that make up the western extension of the region Escudo Guyanés of Venezuela, considered among the oldest in the world. 

In addition, Sierra de la Macarena contains a rich flora and fauna: there are over 420 species of birds, 10 species of amphibians, 43 species of reptiles and about eight species of primates.

Despite the fact that Caño Cristales river is located in a remote and isolated area, now the more adventurous tourists can fly to the nearest town, La Macarena, where they can easily reach the national park that hosts the “River of five colors” . 

Image credit: Moterocolombia (

Image credit: Mario Carvajal (

Image credit: Mario Carvajal (

La Macarena has  numerous travel agencies able to provide transportation on river, on foot or horseback, using local guides. In addition, there are many simple and clean hotels that can meet all requirements.

We invite you to enjoy this wonder of nature…

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