Table of Contents
The rainbow at your feet
Located in South America in Colombia, north of the municipality of La Macarena in the department of META.
Some know it as the “river of five colours”, “the river of the gods” and it owes its colours to the algae that react to the sun and change giving tonalities that go from yellow, blue, green, red, to black.
The river does not have a great flow and its extension is of 100 kilometres and in its widest part it reaches 20 metres.
You can only visit Caño Cristales during the rainy season, i.e. from June to November. In the summer the plant that gives the river its colours, the MACARENIA CLAVIGERA, is in its reproductive period.
Previously it was not open to the public, as it was in the hands of the FARC. So there is no infrastructure to get to the river.
Located in the Sierra de la Macarena National Natural Park, where some 8 species of monkeys and 420 species of birds coexist.
Access to Caño Cristales is from La Macarena, where you have to take a boat to cross the Guayabero River, which takes about 20 minutes.
Then you cross a trail in a 4×4 vehicle, which takes about 25 minutes, and finally walk to the entrance of the river, which takes about 60 minutes. And that is where the walk along the famous river begins.
Curiously, Google maps does not show the exact location, so we leave you the correct address in the following link here.
How to get there?
First you have to get to the municipality of La Macarena, usually by air.
You can fly with SATENA airline from Bogotá, but these flights are only available when Caño Cristales is open.
As they are small planes you can only take 15 kilos of luggage and 5 kilos of hand luggage. We also leave you a link to see the prices and packages here.
You can also fly from VILLAVICENCIO, from VANGUARDIA airport. You can travel any day of the week. Like the previous airline you can only carry 15 kilos of luggage and 5 kilos of hand luggage.
Once you have your airline ticket, there are various types of packages that are available; depending on the number of days you intend to stay. Therefore we leave you a link to see the offers here.
Due to a few cases in 2016, of some soldiers of the Colombian National Army, 100 kilometres from the municipality of La Macarena. It is necessary to have the vaccine against yellow fever.
In Bogotá you can get it at; El Dorado Airport, Prehospitalaria – Terminal Terrestre, CAMI Suba, UPA Lorencita Villegas, UPA Candelaria la Nueva.
In the municipality of La Macarena, there is now constant electricity, but in Caño Cristales there is nowhere to connect anything, in fact there are no hotels, nor is it possible to stay overnight. So you will always have to return to La Macarena.
There is a Bancolombia ATM and a Banco Agrario ATM, but it is still advisable to carry cash.
Both in La Macarena and Caño Cristales the signal is very bad, only Claro works in some places, so your mobile phone will only be there to take pictures. But there is a cafe in town with free Wi fi which you can use later.
What to see?
The entrance to Caño Cristales starts at the Guayabero River, where the guides present the army with a document with the names of the visitors.
Then you take the 4×4 vehicle on a 25-minute drive. The 4×4 vehicle stops again in the presence of soldiers, and from there the hike begins, which can last up to six hours, depending on physical condition.
When you get to Caño Cristales, you can see the pink colouring, but you can’t touch the plants or bathe in the river on that part of the journey. But in general what you can see depends a lot on the package you have taken, and how many days you are there.
Here are the most frequented places:
El Tapete Rojo
The Tapete Rojo is a wide part of the river and is usually low, and the MACARENIA CALVIGERA dyes the floor of the river red, hence its name. In the following link you can have a 360 degree access to the Tapete Rojo.
- The technical name is “Marmitas de Gigantes” or “Kettles“, they are formed by the rubbing of stones harder than those at the bottom of the river dragged by the current and create holes that in this case resemble the number eight. The ones in Caño Cristales are spectacular because apart from the holes they are red in colour.
- And in this sector of Los Ochos there are some kind of pools or circular holes where at the bottom you can see yellow, green, orange and red colours.
El Paso de la Danta
It is a quiet place, where the water looks like a mirror and the yellow and red colours can be appreciated.
From where the water falls it is red, but where the water falls it is curiously yellow.
Where to bathe?
There are four areas that allow tourists to take a dip; the Tourist’s Pool, located above Pozo Cuadrado, at Salto del Águila and at Cascada Negra.