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Caño Cristales: The most beautiful rainbow river in Colombia

Caño Cristales, also known as the ‘River of Five Colours’ or ‘Liquid Rainbow’ is located in La Macarena, Colombia.

The river gained its popularity following its fantastic and beautiful colours seen below the clear water.

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The river contains no fish and is located in a mountainous region with nearby grasslands. It’s total length is 100 kilometres and lies in the Serrania de la Macarena National Park.

The river is fast-flowing and has many rapids and waterfalls. Pebbles or chunks of harder rocks are formed in the river by giant kettle like stones found in the riverbed.

Rainbow River
The river, located in Colombia stands as one of the world’s most beautiful rainbow river. Photo courtesy

In the peak season, one can clearly see the colours from Bright greens, yellows, reds, blacks, purples and blues and they appear to be flowing down the river depending on the light and water condition.

According to multiple sources the river works under no magic to produce the colours, however, the real culprit is picky endemic aquatic plant called macarenia clavigera and not algae and moss as speculated by many.

The picky plant changes from different colours which can clearly be seen during the day due to right water level and weather.

The beautiful plant is also very sensitive to the surrounding environment and mostly requires good amount of sunlight to produce its bright hues.

And for the beautiful kaleidoscope to appear, the waters must be high enough, that means good months to see the colours are from July to November. But again, the waters should not be so high that one can’t see the river bottom because it will result to a brown colour in river because the plant has died.


Because the river is located in a remote area, it can only be accessed by aircraft or a boat.

Due to guerrilla warfare in the area, Tourists were restricted from visiting Caño Cristales for 20 years as from 1989 to 2008. The were also blocked from the river because of the potential negative effect they would have on the habitat.

Rainbow River was reopened to visitors in 2009.

The colorful river is an opportunity for tourists to take beautiful photos and selfies for memories.

People are also allowed to swim in the river, but only in certain areas. In order to protect the picky plants only 200 people swim per day.

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