Experience – Serrania de la Macarena, Colombia: Caño Cristales
- Location: Caño Cristales, Meta, Colombia (Google Maps)
- Hours: All Day
- Recommended Time: 2 days
- How to Arrive: By plane, car
- Distance from La Macarena: 12 km / 7 miles
- Distance from Bogota: 873 km / 542 miles
- Ideal Month(s): June to mid-December
Caño Cristales is located 12 km from la Macarena in the tropical and humid area of Los Llanos (Meta) in Colombia. The river is also known as ‘El Río de los 5 Colores’ (the river of five colors) or the ‘Liquid Rainbow.’ During the rainy season, September to January, Caño Cristales rises and the aquatic plants grow in bright and varied colors. The most vibrant colors are deep blood red and vivid green, which creates a beautiful rainbow-like effect in the water.
The best time to travel to Caño Cristales is from June to mid-December when the plant life is in full bloom. The visitor season lasts from mid-May to the beginning of December, and it’s not possible to book tours outside of these dates. Visitors must stay in the nearby town of La Macarena. There are a few hotels and only one hostel in La Macarena.
How to see Caño Cristales?
There are multiple tour options offered by local travel agencies and tour guides to visit the river. You cannot go independently and must be accompanied by a tour guide as you need permission to enter the area.
Money and time-wise, a two-day-trip from La Macarena is likely the best option. On guided trips, visitors hike through beautiful nature until you reach Caño Cristales. There are also many waterfalls and natural pools along the river where you can swim and see unique wildlife, such as: turtles, iguanas to macaws, aguilas (Colombia’s national bird) and hoatzins (tropical pheasants).
How to get to Caño Cristales?
Take a flight from Villavicencio
One of the easiest ways to get to Caño Cristales is to take a small plane (4-8 people) from the city of Villavicencio to the city of La Macarena. To get to Villavicencio you can easily take a bus from Bogota.
Fly direct from Bogotá
You can fly directly from Bogota to La Macarena on a Satena airlines flight.