The first thing I did when I bought my first ticket to Bogotá was to google everything I wanted to see. I thought the country was small enough to travel to many of the destinations I had found in one day, so naturally I had quite a few things on my list. When I got to my hotel room and started to check for tours and modes of transportation, I quickly realized that my itinerary had just gotten smaller.
One of the attractions I could not make on that first trip was the Caño Cristales, or, the river of five colors. When I first saw a picture online of Caño Cristales I thought it was exaggerated or through an Instagram filter. I saw bright red plants, vibrant green rocks with patches of yellow and dark pools that looked endless in depth.
These colors are in fact the real deal, but only during a specific time of year. From August to November the plants that are called Macarenia clavigera turn red from the sun reaching them through lower water levels. The deep pools were formed by small rocks landing in small crevices. The rocks are circulated around the crevice by the water and they eventually hollow out a large pool. There are designated swimming areas in the river to experience these, as long as you do not apply sprays or lotions before entering the water.
The mode of transportation to reach the river is by boat to reach the town of Magdalena. After that you need to travel approximately one hour by vehicle to the park entrance. You need to be accompanied by a certified tour guide in order to enter the park and as mentioned before, you must refrain from wearing lotions and perfumes as this can upset the delicate balance of the river if it gets into the water. Plastic water bottles are also not permitted as well as other items that could be carelessly discarded in or around the river as trash. A great deal of care is taken to preserve this ecological wonder of the world.
Sunny days are the best opportunity to see the river at it’s finest. If it is cloudy or rainy the colors tend to be muted and won’t give you the best quality photos. Be aware of the weather forecast and also be aware that tropical environments can be hard to pin down when the rain is coming.
Send us an email if you are interested in visiting the most beautiful river in the world!