Amazing Places

Caño Cristales Is a River Known as the "Liquid Rainbow"

If you're bored with the same old rivers, head to Colombia where you can see something that looks like the end result of a collaboration between James Cameron, Timothy Leary, and a box full of melted crayons.

Travel east of the Andes and you'll find Los Llanos, a massive portion of open grasslands. It's home to Caño Cristales, a river often called the "Liquid Rainbow." The jaw-dropping collision of colors is caused by macarenia clavigera, aquatic plants unique to the body of water that shine brightly through the surface in various colors. The 62-mile stretch of water is as gorgeous as it is delicate.

Hey, Macarenia!

Macarenia clavigera turn various colors depending on their depth and the amount of light they're getting. If you visit between September and November, you'll encounter reds, blues, yellows, oranges, and more. The plants cover most of the riverbed, so there's color at every turn.

This river is the only place in the world where this life can grow. The plants are delicate, and require extremely specific conditions to survive. They're are so fragile, they can be hurt even by light touches.

An Exclusive Club

It wasn't long ago when you couldn't visit Caño Cristales safely, as the region was controlled by guerilla soldiers. These days, a good portion has been regained by the Colombian military, so you are actually able to visit. Still, the region is highly protected because it was so blatantly damaged when visiting was unregulated. Only seven visitors are allowed at a time, with a maximum of 200 people per day.

If you're considering a visit, one word of caution: don't pack bug spray or sunscreen, as they would harm the ecosystem. But if you can make it to Caño Cristales, we expect to see a significant upgrade in your Instagram feed.

Caño Cristales: Colombia's River of Many Colors

Written by Mike Epifani July 1, 2017

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