Caño Cristales, the Crystal River or the river of five colors, as the locals call it, originates in the south of the 1.2 million year old mountain chain Macarena in Colombia, and flows eastward to its confluence with the river Guayabero. Caño Cristales bed has five colors: yellow, blue, green, black and red. These colors are a product of many algae and, depending on the season the color saturation weakens or strengthens. Caño Cristales is considered to be the most beautiful river in the world.
The water in the river is so clear that the bottom can be seen even at a decent depth. In summer, the sun dries the Macarenia Clavijera algae, which gives the water a rich red hue. Other algae produce the yellows, blacks, turquoise and green colors. The algae create a soft moving carpet on the river's floor. In the deeper areas there are natural trenches – the deep and colorful moyas (wells). The river becomes most vibrant with colors in the hot season, from June to November. Visiting the place during winter and spring is not allowed - the status of the UNESCO Natural Heritage site obliges to take extreme security measures and protect the river's basin.
Recent studies conducted by local naturalists showed that the water in the river is so clean that it is almost distilled. There are no minerals or salt in the crystal water, it is not suitable for drinking and there is almost no fish. Since the rain water and the oxygenated water from the mountains don't have any silt, it does not bring any sedimentary materials into the river, and no new vegetation is added to it besides the native algae – so there is practically nothing for the fish to eat.
Caño Cristales is quite isolated and not easily accessible by road. To get there, you have to fly to the nearby town of La Macarena, and take a trip to the national park, Serrania de la Macarena, where the river is located. Once there, you will be amazed what wonders the nature is capable of.