Welcome to the most colorful river of the world. Rainbows are jealous of the beauty of Caño Cristales.
Caño Cristales is a vividly coloured river found in Colombia’s Meta region, in South America. It is commonly known as the “River of Five Colors” or the “Liquid Rainbow,” and when you are first confronted with its breathtaking beauty, you immediately know that these names are by no means an exaggeration.
During the peak season, Caño Cristales sports vivid colours including black, blue, green, yellow and red, the last caused by Macarenia clavigera plants. The river is said to contain no fish, and it is situated in a mountainous region with nearby grasslands. The total length of Caño Cristales is 100 kilometres (62 miles) and it lies in the Serrania de la Macarena National Park.
Caño Cristales is a fast-flowing river with many rapids and waterfalls. Small circular pits known as giant’s kettles can be found in many parts of the riverbed, which have been formed by pebbles or chunks of harder rocks. Once one of these harder rock fragments falls into one of the cavities, it is rotated by the water current and begins to carve at the cavity wall, increasing the dimensions of the pit.
The river is home to a wide variety of aquatic plants. Its water is extremely clear due to the lack of nutrients and small particles – which also explain the abscence of fish. Almost unique is the bright red – pink coloration of riverbed after the rainy period in the end of June – November, caused by the endemic plant species Macarenia clavígera.
The colors of Caño Cristales reach their peak some weeks between June and December, and this is the best time to visit. The river is in a remote area and can only be accessed by aircraft, then boat, and even then, a hike is required.
Tourists were unable to visit Caño Cristales for 20 years, from 1989 to 2008, mainly due to guerrilla warfare in the area, but also because of the potential negative effect they would have on the habitat. However, visitors have been able to tour the area since 2009 with authorised tourism companies.
Caño Cristales is among the most beautiful rivers on earth. National Geographic quotes that the river seems to have been from “The Garden of Eden” (Spanish: Paraíso), and yes, it is definitely true.