Caño Cristales is the local name for Colombia’s famous River of Seven Colours, an ancient waterbed that runs through one of the world’s most ancient rock formations, the Sierra de La Macarena. A pre-Cambrian range that dates back some 1.8 billion years, around seven times the age of the Andes, the vast length of time the sierra has existed has led to some extraordinary phenomena – rivers that have run for millions of years have eroded away and left some remarkable features, nowhere more evident than at Caño Cristales.
It is a collection of pools, tunnels, loops and undercuts that provide the perfect setting for the star of the show which has evolved over millions of years. The endemic aquatic plant Macarenia clavigera thrives in the fast flowing waters and, depending on the amount of sunshine, will range from a deep greenish hue to a bright blood red colour. These carpets of bubble-like vegetation burst into life during the wet season between June and November each year.
To get there you fly from Bogota to the small Llanos/Amazon town of La Macarena. From there take a small boat across the Guayabero River before taking a 4×4 to the entrance of the park. La Macarena is located in the transitional zone between the Sierra, Amazon and Llanos which makes it an excellent spot of wildlife watching: the birding here is excellent.