Marvel at its brilliant colors

Caño Cristales, located in the department of Meta, is considered one of the most beautiful rivers in the world. Affectionately referred to as "the River of Fives Colors," Caño Cristales is one of the most noteworthy tourist locations in Colombia.

This marvelous ecosystem is the only one of its type. The shades of yellow, blue, green, and black that you can view through the crystal-clear waters of the river are caused by an endemic aquatic plant, the Macarenia clavigera, which, with the right amount of sunlight, paints the Caño Cristales a rainbow of beautiful colors.

This river, which is fewer than 65 miles long and less than 13 miles wide at any point, has waterfalls, rapids, corridors, and tide pools whose waters flow from the southern plateau of the Macarena mountain range, a rugged area where there are many cave paintings still unexplored.

The Macarena mountain range offers beautiful natural scenery and is home to 420 species of birds, 10 species of amphibians, 43 species of reptiles, and 8 species of primates.

 River of the five colors Caño Cristales
Photo: Courtesy Mario Carvajal

What is there to do in Caño Cristales?

To visit Caño Cristales, you must first reach the municipality of Macarena. Once there, you can visit several different places. One such place is the Piscina de los Turistas (Tourist Pool). It is, without a doubt, the most famous part of the trip. At the iconic Piscina de los Turistas, you can swim and take lots of pictures.

There's also the Tapete Rojo, one of the most beautiful and colorful sections of Caño Cristales. It's a place where the river is wide, low, and red thanks to the dense population of Macarenia clavigera.

You should also make it a point to see Los Ochos, a place with a spectacular view. Los Ochos is a portion of the river where the rocks have created small pools of water that, when seen from above, appear to take the shape of many figure-eights.

Unique experiences

One unique experience is visiting Caño Cristalitos. As its name suggests, it is a smaller river linked to Caño Cristales. Its waters are also decorated with the red-hued Macarenia clavigera, and are the ideal place to start your journey.

The area of Caño Cristalitos is very peaceful and has a natural pool of warm water where you can rejuvenate yourself during your trip.

On your way to Caño Cristalitos, you'll pass another extraordinary location: the Mirador. The Mirador is a small mountain that rises above the Guayabero River. From the mountain, you'll have an incomparable, panoramic view of the riverbank of the great Caño Cristales. It is, without a doubt, an experience that you'll never forget.

La Macarena Caño Cristales
Photo: Courtesy Mario Carvajal

Activities you won't want to miss out on

Don't forget to visit the Cascada de los Cuarzos ("Quartz Waterfall"), a magnificent waterfall composed of many individual rivulets that form peaceful, crystalline pools. You can swim in this beautiful area without any problems.

Keep in mind that, to visit Caño Cristales or Caño Cristalitos, you must first travel by canoe down the Guayabero River.

The trip is stunning, so we recommend that you bring a camera so you're ready to take lots of pictures. You'll definitely see some exotic animals, like turtles, birds, monkeys, and maybe even caimans. 


  • To reach Caño Cristales, you have to travel to the municipality of La Macarena, in Meta. It's most commonly reached by air travel from cities such as Bogotá, Villavicencio, Medellín or Cali.
  • After arriving in La Macarena, you will travel for about 20 minutes down the Guayabero River before hiking the rest of the way down beautiful trails that will allow you to fully enjoy the beauty of Caño Cristales.
  • We recommend that you make this trip in the second half of the year, which is when the riverbed grows and the beautiful aquatic plants are at their best. During the trip, you'll enjoy waterfalls, natural pools, white stones, carpets of colorful aquatic plants, and an indescribable sense of peace.
  • We advise you to bring very little luggage and review airline policies beforehand to find out how many pounds of luggage they allow.
  • As far as clothing and personal items go, good shoes, preferably waterproof and with good traction, are the most important thing to bring. High rise boots would be even better.
  • Bringing sunblock and insect repellent to the river is absolutely prohibited, as these substances can affect the ecosystem.
  • You should also bring light shirts with long sleeves, long, waterproof pants, a cap or hat, sunglasses, and a bathing suit.
  • It's also very important that you bring hydration, but not in plastic bottles that will affect the ecosystem.
  • For lodging, you can stay in one of the hotels available in the municipality of La Macarena. They are modest, with affordable rates and high occupancy during peak season. For that reason, we recommend that you allow yourself time to plan your trip and make the applicable reservations beforehand.
  • Don't forget that it's essential that you receive your yellow fever vaccination at least 15 days before traveling to Caño Cristales.

Follow these recommendations and prepare to feel the rhythm of Caño Cristales, a marvelous destination full of colors and natural treasures. Come soon, and don't miss out on your chance to see this incredibly unique destination!