Visiting Cano Cristales: A Journey to Colombia's Most Colorful River

Nestled in the heart of Colombia's Serrania de la Macarena National Park, Cano Cristales is a river like no other. Dubbed the "River of Five Colors" or "Liquid Rainbow," Cano Cristales is a natural wonder that draws visitors from all over the world. Its unique blend of vibrant hues and crystal-clear waters make for a truly breathtaking experience.

Located in the department of Meta, Cano Cristales is accessible only by foot, horseback or small aircraft. This remote location only adds to its allure and makes for a truly immersive adventure. The journey to Cano Cristales begins with a flight from Bogotá to La Macarena, followed by a multi-hour hike through the national park. The journey is well worth the effort as the stunning scenery, fresh air and peaceful surroundings make for a truly rejuvenating experience.

The River of Five Colors is at its most vibrant between the months of July and November, when a species of aquatic plant called Macarenia clavigera is in bloom. The plant produces a vibrant red pigment that covers the river bed and creates a spectacular display of color. The contrast of the red with the green vegetation, blue sky and crystal-clear waters creates a breathtaking sight that is sure to leave a lasting impression.

Visitors are encouraged to take a guided tour to fully appreciate the beauty of Cano Cristales. The local guides are knowledgeable about the area and its history, and they can provide valuable insights and recommendations for making the most of your visit. During the tour, visitors will have the opportunity to swim in the refreshing waters, relax on the river banks, and observe the abundant wildlife that inhabits the area.

In addition to its natural beauty, Cano Cristales is also rich in cultural significance. The area is home to several indigenous communities who have lived in harmony with the environment for centuries. Visitors can learn about their customs, traditions, and way of life, making for a truly enriching experience.

While Cano Cristales is a popular tourist destination, it remains unspoiled and well-protected. The Colombian government has implemented strict regulations to preserve the delicate ecosystem and ensure that visitors have a positive impact on the environment. This includes a limit on the number of daily visitors, and the mandatory use of certified tour guides.

Accommodations: In La Macarena, Colombia, are limited and can range from simple guesthouses to eco-friendly lodges. Given the remote location of La Macarena and its status as a protected national park, visitors should expect limited amenities and a more rustic experience.

Guesthouses in La Macarena offer basic accommodations and typically include private rooms with shared bathrooms. Eco-friendly lodges in La Macarena offer a more comfortable experience and are designed with the environment in mind. These lodges offer private rooms with en suite bathrooms, and some feature solar power, composting toilets, and other sustainable technologies.

It is important to note that La Macarena is a remote destination, and visitors should come prepared with necessary supplies and be ready for a more rugged and basic experience. However, for those seeking a unique and authentic adventure in one of Colombia's most beautiful and protected national parks, La Macarena is well worth the visit.


We offer full package tours that include a Spanish speaking local guide (English can be arranged at an additional cost). The packages include your domestic flight from Bogota (flights from other Colombian cities can also be arranged on request), private rooms in a Eco Lodge, all meals, transportation, park tickets and boat rides.

In addition to visiting Cano Cristales, there are several other activities and attractions to enjoy in Serrania de la Macarena National Park:

  1. Wildlife watching: The national park is home to a diverse range of flora and fauna, including exotic bird species, monkeys, jaguars, and other mammals.
  2. Trekking: With its lush forests, rolling hills, and breathtaking waterfalls, the national park offers plenty of opportunities for trekking and hiking.
  3. Cave exploring: The park is home to several fascinating caves that offer a unique glimpse into the geological history of the area.
  4. Birdwatching: With over 500 species of birds, the national park is a birder's paradise. Visitors can spot species such as the blue-winged macaw, the golden-headed quetzal, and many others.
  5. Cultural encounters: The park is home to several indigenous communities who have lived in the area for centuries. Visitors can learn about their customs, traditions, and way of life through guided tours.
  6. Fishing: The park's rivers and lakes offer excellent fishing opportunities for those who enjoy this activity.
  7. Photography: With its breathtaking scenery, diverse wildlife, and vibrant colors, the national park is a photographer's dream.
  8. Waterfalls: In the remote jungle you can find many beautiful waterfalls such as Caño Canoas, its stunning beauty makes it one of the most unique waterfalls in the world.
Caño Canoas Waterfall in Colombia

Visiting Cano Cristales is a journey that combines adventure, beauty and cultural richness. It is a must-see destination for nature lovers, adventurers, and anyone looking for a truly unique and unforgettable experience. Whether you are looking to escape the hustle and bustle of city life or simply seeking a new adventure, Cano Cristales is the perfect destination.

Cano Cristales River
Charter Flight to the town of La Macarena (base for exploring Cano Cristales River)
Swimming at Cano Cristales
Typical Food on our Tours
Cano Cristales River

Check out trip packages to Cano Cristales, guided tours can be booked here.