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Caño Cristales: the rainbow river of Colombia

cano cristalesAlgae. They are the ones that give the rainbow river its splendid coloring. The mythical Cano Cristales, the river that we know as rainbow river, runs in a no man's land in the department of Meta. The Amazon forest, here, on the border with the first busy streets that descend from Bogotà and Cali, dominates the landscape. The crystal water turns to red, blue, green, yellow, and even black due to the presence of microscopic algae including Macarenia clavigera (red color).

The show deserves to be photographed and filmed, and there are quite a few pictures circulating online that focus on the magic cano Cristales.

It is its beauty that makes the river one of the most sought after locations for amateur and professional photographers all over the world. It is no coincidence that the river has earned many names , all linked to the wonderful purity of its colors. Cano Cristales is also known as “crystal river”, “river of five colors”, and “liquid rainbow”.


The trip to the banks of the rainbow river has the charm of an exotic adventure. The only way for a tourist to get there is to take one of the two flights aboard a small aircraft departing from Villavicencio or Bogota. The best time to visit is from late July to early December, when the algae take on the different shades of green, blue, red, and yellow. It is possible to combine a trip to the nearby Serrania de Los Picachos National Park, but you have to be very determined given the isolation and lack of infrastructure, but it is definitely worth it. Very few tourists, the enormous satisfaction of having been there.

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