Beautifully Exotic Caño Cristales: River That ‘Ran Away From Paradise’ [37 PICS]

April 12th, 2013 Permalink

A river in Columbia is beautifully exotic and home to a natural phenomenon that earned it many complimentary names like ‘the river that ran away from paradise.’ You can only visit the Caño Cristales river from July to December. Within that time frame is a shorter period when the conditions are perfect to cause blooms in the water that showcase a ‘liquid rainbow’ of ‘yellow, green, blue, black, and especially the red of the Macarenia clavigera.’ During the rest of the year, the water looks like any other river, surrounded by fantastic rock formations that are so steep they are said to hide away the view of numerous waterfalls and natural swimming holes. The rock formations look remarkably similar to Moon Valley in beautiful Brazil, but Rio Caño Cristales has been bestowed with many titles such as “The River of Five Colors,” “The Liquid Rainbow”, “the river that ran away from paradise,” and even “The Most Beautiful River in the World.” [37 Photos]

The Liquid Rainbow aka Caño Cristales

The Liquid Rainbow aka Caño Cristales. Photo #1 by Guillermo Vasquez

Caño Cristales is a hot spot for photographers, not Wi-Fi

Be sure to take a camera to Caño Cristales. It was off limits for three years due to of FARC guerrilla activity in the region. In 2009, it was reopened to the public. The official site states, “The area of ​​La Macarena was an area of ​​coca plant cultivation and this created many social and security problems. Visiting La Macarena could be dangerous. However, today, is a military controlled area.” It adds, “In a weekend you will find many foreigners from different countries and much visiting this most Colombian traveler. Go in peace, now the municipality of La Macarena is in excellent safety. Your trip will be enjoyable and safe. However, we recommend that you avoid traveling by road, as it transits from Villavicencio conflict areas, far from La Macarena, but worth avoiding.” Photo #2 by Mario Carvajal


Caño Cristales. Los Cuarzos, La Macarena

The La Macarena National and Ecological Reserve Park is internationally known as Caño Cristales by international ecotourists. Photo #3 by Peter Fitzgerald

View of Caño Cristales, the River of Seven Colors, La Macarena, Colombia

View of Caño Cristales, the River of Five Colors, La Macarena, Colombia. A tourist review states, “Last year I had a great experience in Colombia, I went to Caño Cristales, the river of colors. The ‘Macarenia Clavijera’ (an aquatic plant that gives the red color to the river) has a life cycle that depends on the river flow. The plant dies in the dry season while in the rainy season it extends along the river bed. This is why the season of visits ranges from June to November. The river has very interesting rock formations, natural swimming pools and waterfalls. This place is still an undiscovered travel destination in Colombia for foreigners. En excellent trip!” Photo #4 by Peter Fitzgerald

Beautiful river, colorful water, aquatic plant product with sun turn red, green. It is located in Colombia, near the town of La Macarena, in Meta

“Beautiful river, colorful water, aquatic plant product with sun turn red, green.” It is located in Colombia, near the town of La Macarena. Photo #6 by Mario Carvajal

Panorama of Caño Cristales

Panorama of Caño Cristales. The time of year to travel to Rio Caño Cristales is between July and December when the aquatic plants are in bloom. Photo #7 by Guillermo Vasquez

Cano Castales geology, the rocks around Macarena are about 1200 million years old

The rocks around Macarena are about 1200 million years old. Photo #8 via iClickfun

In Colombia, Rio Cano Castales, or the ‘river of five colors’

A review from September 2012 states, “It is beautifully exotic. Safe hiking, unique sightseeing and great swimming by wonderful waterfalls. Red subaquatic plants give an extraordinary touch to the river and all surroundings.” Photo #9 via Twisted Sifter

Caño Cristales is a Colombian river commonly called The River of Five Colors, The Liquid Rainbow or even The Most Beautiful River in the World

Many travelers say that photos of the ‘Most Beautiful River in the World’ simply don’t do it justice if you visit when the blooms are just right. Photo #10 by Andres Felipe Quiroga Striedinger & #11 by Reza Ahmeds & #12 by rachelcifelli

Natural phenomena at Caños de cristales Colombia

Natural phenomena. However according to Intact Nature, “We don’t know a lot about this rare plant. What we know is that for a brief period in between wet and dry season, river is just high enough for the plant to have enough sun to turn red. In wet period water is too high and in dry period there is not enough water to sustain life in the river. So somewhere between September and November water is just about right for Macarenia Clavigera to blossom. Before and after, Cano Cristales looks just like most of the rivers in Colombia, crystal clear water with rocks full of moss.” Photo #13 via Fondos Blackberry

Strikingly colorful river of five colors, Caño Crystals

The official tourism website of Colombia says to “Help us show strikingly colorful river of five colors, Caño Crystals, to the rest of the world.” Photo #14 by Oliver Castelblanco

Rocks and cascading waterfalls at Caño Cristales

Rocks, cascading waterfalls and blooming endemic plant species Macarenia clavígera. Photo #15 by Guillermo Vasquez & #16 by Oliver Castelblanco

Small circular pits called giant's kettle in the rocky Caño Cristales river bed

According to Wikipedia, “The small circular pits, -giant’s kettle- that characterize the river bed have been opened by high hardness minerals. When one of these hard mineral fragments falls into one of the cavities, large or small, begins to brushing rotate with the cavity wall and increases the dimensions of the well.” Photo #17 by Oliver Castelblanco

The  river has many very interesting rock formations, natural swimming pools and waterfalls

The river has many very interesting rock formations, natural swimming pools and waterfalls. Photo #18 by Guillermo Vasquez

Zooming out to see more in this panorama of Caño Cristales

Zooming out to see more of those nature-made swimming pools and waterfalls in this panorama. Photo #19 by Guillermo Vasquez

Rio Cano Castales is one of the most beautiful rivers in the world

Rio Cano Castales is one of the most beautiful rivers in the world. Photo #20 via iClickfun

Aerial, from space, ISS looking down at Caño Cristales, Columbia

Fully zoomed out, this is an ISS view looking down at Caño Cristales. Photo #21 by ISS / NASA

Baby owl seen near Rio Cano Castales

This baby owl was near the river, but the mountain “is home to about 420 species of birds, 10 species of amphibians, 43 species of reptiles and 8 primates.” Wikipedia added, “The area is of tropical climate and temperatures range from 42 °F (5.5°C) to 88 °F (31°C). These aspects help to maintain a high level of biodiversity with numerous endemic and rare species.” Photo #22 by Luis Alejandro Bernal Romero

No fish live in Cano Castales river

Despite all the fauna that live near the river, you won’t any fish living in Cano Castales “due to its lack of drag and sedimentation materials.” Photo #23 by Guillermo Vasquez

Macarenia clavigera up close

When the conditions are just right, algae and moss bloom. This is the macarenia clavigera up close. Photo #24 by Peter Fitzgerald

Looking underwater at Cano Cristales river

Looking underwater at the river. Photo #25 by Guillermo Vasquez

Underwater closeup of Caño Cristales flora in full bloom

Underwater closeup of flora in full bloom. Photo #27 by Guillermo Vasquez

The stones are covered with moss and algae, and when conditions are just right, you see yellow, blue, green, black and red from above in the river of five colors

The stones are covered with moss and algae, and when conditions are just right, you see yellow, blue, green, black and red from above in the river of five colors. Photo #28 by Guillermo Vasquez

Caño Cristales swimming hole

Caño Cristales swimming hole. Photo #29 by Guillermo Vasquez

Person submerged in the Cano Cristales, River of 5 Colors, swimming hole

Person submerged in a swimming hole. Photo #30 by iClickfun

There are reportedly numerous waterfalls in the area, but they are obscured from view due to the steep topography

There are reportedly numerous holes like this for swimmers as well waterfalls in the area, but they are obscured from view due to the steep topography. Photo #31 via iClickfun

Waterfall and pink algae at Caños de cristales Colombia

Waterfall and pink algae. Photo #32 via Fondos Blackberry

Panorama of the unique biological wonder of Cano Cristales, the river that ran away from paradise'

Panorama of the unique biological wonder of the ‘river that ran away from paradise.’ Photo #33 by Guillermo Vasquez

Exotic beauty of 'the most beautiful river in the world'

Exotic beauty of ‘the most beautiful river in the world.’ Photo #34 by Astromario / Mario Carvajal & #35 by Guillermo Vasquez

Living breathing Monet of Rio Cano Castales

Living, breathing Monet . . . by nature. Photo #36 by Guillermo Vasquez

Canos de cristales Colombia

Canos de Cristales Colombia. Photo #37 via Fondos Blackberry

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