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La Macarena – Caño Cristales

Discover Caño Cristales

This extraordinary river is renowned for its unique display of colors, ranging from vibrant reds, pinks, yellows, greens, and blues, which emerge from the aquatic plants beneath its crystal-clear waters. The breathtaking spectacle is most prominent during the months of July to November, when the water level is just right and sunlight interacts with the riverbed vegetation. Visitors to Cano Cristales have the opportunity to witness this ephemeral phenomenon, trek through the lush surrounding landscapes, and marvel at the unparalleled beauty of one of Colombia’s hidden gems.

  • Explore Cano Cristales: Witness the mesmerizing colors of the “River of Five Colors” during the optimal season (July to November) when the aquatic plants bloom, creating a stunning display.
  • Eco-Tourism: La Macarena National Natural Park is known for its rich biodiversity. Take guided eco-tours to explore the diverse flora and fauna of the region.
  • Hiking and Nature Trails: Enjoy trekking through the lush landscapes and natural trails of the park, allowing you to experience the beauty of Colombia’s wilderness.
  • Bird Watching: The park is home to a variety of bird species, making it a great destination for birdwatchers. Keep an eye out for colorful and unique birdlife.
  • Photography: Capture the scenic landscapes, vibrant river, and diverse wildlife with your camera. The park offers plenty of opportunities for nature photography.
  • Cultural Interaction: Interact with the local communities to learn about their culture, traditions, and enjoy the warm hospitality of the region.

Good to Know

Eastern Colombian Andes
Vaccine Requirements
Vaccine is not needed.
Languages spoken
Currency used
COP. Cash, few ATM's.
Area (km2)
197 km2


How to get there?

To reach Cano Cristales, you’ll first need to make your way to La Macarena, a small town in the Meta department of Colombia. You can get a flight directly from Bogota. Remember that all operations only work with travel agencies to be able to go inside the national park with a certified guide and everything needs to be booked beforehand. Hotels are in Macarena right next to the airport. From there, you can take a short boat ride along the Guayabero River to the entrance of the national park also arranged by guides.

As Cano Cristales is a protected area, visitors are required to hire a local guide for a guided tour of the river and park. The guides are knowledgeable about the area and ensure that visitors follow the park’s rules and regulations to preserve its natural beauty. Last year only four guides talked english and the rest only spanish so its very important to plan this destination with time.

The best time to visit Cano Cristales is during June to November that the park is opened, when the river is at its most colorful. Depending of the month you go on,  you can see more tones of color or less as it’s an algae in the water that is growing.  It’s important to note that the river can be inaccessible during the rainy season, so it’s best to plan your trip accordingly.

Once you’ve arrived at Cano Cristales, prepare to be amazed by the breathtaking scenery. The crystal-clear waters, colorful algae, and unique rock formations create a magical and unforgettable experience. This is a destination 100% nature and for people that love nature and to go trekking. Don’t expect luxury here, expect the real thing. Expect to walk from 4-7 hours a day depending of the route level you take and you will be in a destination where you can feel how mankind has not invaded yet the nature.

Don’t forget to bring your camera, as Cano Cristales is a photographer’s paradise. Capture the vibrant colors, unique wildlife, and stunning landscapes to share with your friends and family back home. So many birds and sceneries just take your breath away.


When packing for your trip to Cano Cristales, it’s important to consider the diverse weather conditions and the activities you’ll be engaging in. Here’s a list of suggested clothing items to pack:

Lightweight, breathable clothing: Pack light, quick-drying clothes that are comfortable for hiking and outdoor activities.

Long-sleeved shirts and pants: These will help protect your skin from the sun, insects, and plants.

Swimwear: Don’t forget to pack your swimsuit for a refreshing dip in the river, this goes under your clothes!

Hiking boots or sturdy walking shoes: Choose footwear with good traction and ankle support for walking on uneven trails. You will step on water and even have water upto your knees if medium routes of the park.

Sun hat and sunglasses: Protect your face and eyes from the sun’s rays.

Rain jacket or poncho: Be prepared for sudden rain showers during the rainy season.

Water Bottle: Inside the Natural park is prohibited one time use plastic, so in your hotel you need to fill in your water bottles with at least 1.5 L of water per person ( what the guides recommend as you will be out most of the day).

Camera: Capture the stunning scenery and vibrant colors of Cano Cristales.

Daypack: Carry your essentials in a lightweight, waterproof daypack


It’s prohibited inside the national park to have anything on your skin as it kills the algae in the water, and you will not be permitted to enter the park. This is really a one of a kind place not found in the world and locals are trying really hard to preserve the park.

Remember to pack light and only bring what you need for your trip. Traveling light will make it easier to move around and enjoy your time in Cano Cristales.

So, if you’re looking for a one-of-a-kind adventure, make sure to add Cano Cristales to your travel bucket list. It’s a truly unforgettable experience that will leave you in awe of Colombia’s natural beauty.