Located in the vast and rarely visited Los Llanos area in Colombia, Caño Cristales has been called the river of five colors and the liquid rainbow. It’s also been called the most beautiful river in the world. We’ve seen a lot of rivers on our Trans-Americas Journey and we’re inclined to agree. It’s not easy to reach and, until the mid 2000s, wasn’t even open to tourism because of FARC activity. Those who do make it to the small town of La Macarena, the gateway for Caño Cristales, between June and November are rewarded with a natural spectacle not seen anywhere else in the world as rare and delicate water plants explode with color, flooding the already lovely river with red, blue, green, orange, and yellow hues. Shades of red and green are most common, as you will see in our photo essay.

Colombia’s colorful Caño Cristales

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For a few months a year Colombia’s Caño Cristales explodes with color.

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For a few months a year Colombia’s Caño Cristales explodes with color.

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For a few months a year Colombia’s Caño Cristales explodes with color.

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For a few months a year Colombia’s Caño Cristales explodes with color.

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For a few months a year Colombia’s Caño Cristales explodes with color.

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For a few months a year Colombia’s Caño Cristales explodes with color.

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For a few months a year Colombia’s Caño Cristales explodes with color.

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For a few months a year Colombia’s Caño Cristales explodes with color.

Cano-Cristales-rainbow-river

For a few months a year Colombia’s Caño Cristales explodes with color.

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For a few months a year Colombia’s Caño Cristales explodes with color.

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For a few months a year Colombia’s Caño Cristales explodes with color.

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For a few months a year Colombia’s Caño Cristales explodes with color.

Macarenia-clavigera

For a few months a year Colombia’s Caño Cristales explodes with color.

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For a few months a year Colombia’s Caño Cristales explodes with color.

Check out our feature about Caño Cristales or BBC Travel. And get more about travel to Caño Cristales, including how to get there, local legends, awesome community tourism, and just a touch of science, in our post about visiting Caño Cristales.

Here’s more about travel in Colombia