The Cano Cristales is a river of Colombia located in the Sierra de la Macarena. For most of the year, Cano Cristales is indistinguishable from any other river: a bed of rocks covered in dull green mosses are visible below a cool, clear current. However, for a brief period of time every year the most amazing transformation occurs - the river blossoms in a vibrant explosion of colors.
During the short span between the wet and dry seasons, the water level drops enough for the sun to warm the moss and algae on the river's bottom, and this warmth leads to an explosive growth of blooms. A unique species of plant that lines the river floor called Macarenia clavigera turns a brilliant red. It is offset by splotches of yellow and green sand, blue water, and a thousand shades in between. This only happens for a brief period in between seasons for a few weeks from September through November.
Cano Cristales has been called the river of five colors or even the most beautiful river in the world.
Cano Cristales is located in a remote, isolated area not easily accessible by road. The site was closed to tourists for several years because of terrorist activity in the region along with concerns about the environmental impact of tourism. It was reopened to visitors in 2009, and today there are several Colombian Tourist Agencies that will fly travelers to La Macarena. From there it is a short trip into "Serrania de la Macarena," the national park in which Cano Cristales is located.
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