Travel to "rainbow river"

By Colombia oculta

Caño Cristales is considered one of the most beautiful rivers in the world, was chosen as the first natural wonder of Colombia; Really a place where magical realism lives!

It is located in the Serrania de la Macarena, one of the most biodiverse places in Colombia. Its five colors are amazing, its fauna, its flora, its contrasts, its people and its landscape in general, because they imbue the spirit with balance.

Colombia Occulta has been visiting Caño Cristales for more than 10 years, located in the Colombian jungle of the Guyanese shield. The river with its crystalline waters invites you to live in peace and harmony with the cosmos.

The Serrania de la Macarena has more than 1592 species of plants, 772 species of fauna and is believed to have more than 17 of the 62 types of ecosystems in the country.

For this reason and for our love of the territory, Colombia Hidden is in charge of the Forest Reserve Madre Selva Caño Cristales, whose purpose is Conservation and Research.

Travel Options

Since we started visiting this place more than a decade ago we have been designing sustainable alternatives for both the local community and visitors. We have different variables to make trips to Caño Cristales. There are options from one, two, three, four or five nights. You must consider your home city or where you want to start with our service. Trips can start:

  • From Bogota. Every day we leave from the door of your house or hotel with ground transportation to the airport of Villavicencio, where we take the flight to the Macarena. At the end of the tour we will return you to your house or hotel.
  • From Villavicencio. Arrive at Villavicencio airport and start the tour from here.
  • From The Macarena. There are people who come to the Macarena on their own. Usually they meet us at the airport where they start the tour with all services included.
  • From Medellín, Cali, Cartagena, Manizales or Barranquilla. From these cities there is no direct commercial flight to La Macarena. Usually it is necessary to stop in Bogota or Villavicencio to conclude the Macarena. However there is also the possibility of contracting private flights from any city in the country.

It depends on how many people vary the prices. You choose the type of accommodation: In hotel of the urban helmet of the municipality of the Macarena. Tell us the dates you want to travel and choose the option that most closely matches your amenities:

Hotel accommodation

In the municipality of la Macarena we have several hotels for visitors. All are very basic, with good attention and clean. Neither is five star nor fancy. Generally we all have private rooms with independent bathrooms and we deliver towels, soaps and clean sheets. In this type of accommodation you have to travel one hour and another hour of return every day to Caño Cristales, in boat navigation on the Guayabero river and in 4x4 until very close to our destination.See hotels

mano caño cristales

Nature Reserve Madre Selva

Restoration and Environmental Education Projects Agreement with the regional Macarena

Madre Selva: A call to protection !. Previously it was done on grazing in these 50 hectares. (It is a difficulty that lives the Serranía de la Macarena: felling of trees in virgin jungle to put cows). Today our work is being the recovery of the place for the forest to grow again; There are no cows grazing in Caño Cristales, with the support of the community we are working hard for Conservation. This is a sacred place, where they inhabit varieties of birds, monkeys, felines, insects, snakes and plants in their natural wild state.

Shoot Photos

It is a social photography project that trains youngsters in the field of photography, wildlife and flora in wild areas. It intends to change the conception of the rifle for the house by the camera for the capture of images of animals. Here inhabits the jaguar, the dantas, anteaters and many species that are threatened. The slogan is "Conservation for Preservation" through photography.

Reserva natural Madre selva

Traveler Reviews:

"I am Dario Sotelo Rueda, I went with my two children aged 10 and 4, I had to carry the 4 year old 50% of the time, but still, the truth is one of the most wonderful walks I have ever done in my life (And I have traveled a lot ... in Colombia and the world) Ahh my little boy learned to swim in the most beautiful river in the world (few can afford that ...) I want to thank your company and you Ivan, for The opportunity to know so beautiful places of our land and to count on you for new destinations.To finish the guides: Uber, Angi and Francy, they are spectacular !! Greetings:
NICOLAS, SANTIAGO AND DARIO "Travel: October 5, 2013

"Everything was perfect!!!
Thank you! The Macarena operator team is an excellent and professional team (Uber, Alex and Mayerly), as well as the service offered by Mr. Nelson, I felt very proud to be Colombian and that this wonderful tour this I feel handled by such people professionals.
Thank you for making this trip possible !!
Luis Fernando Botero "Travel: September 20, 2013

"A beauty ... I have no words to express my gratitude, education, attention to the warmth of your people ... I want to work with you !!! Because I return to Bogota to stay, so count on me. Things in order and I come back here!
Ninoska Aponte "September 13, 2013

"Ivan: I want to thank you for the great walk that we had, there was no but, and we had a very, very good time, the place is spectacular and unforgettable, and all the people were very kind, responsible, patient and helpful. Thus, constancy, that you already know, is the key so that we can educate everyone in the preservation and enjoyment of nature, respecting and forming part of it.
Thank you very very much.
Isabel Serrano "Travel: September 3, 2013

"We do not have words to thank you for how well we were treated, I know I was a little intense to start the trip, but it's the first time I traveled all this way via the internet, lol.It was the best place we could choose for my mom to start her Eternal journey, we have made known the place and we are inviting many people to be encouraged to go to caño crystals, of course we have given the data of Colombia Hidden.
The guys who came from New York are also promoting the place because there are a lot of people interested there.
Liliana Gutierrez"

"Hello Ivan, I express my sincere thanks to you for the fact that through this trip I was able to verify that everything that is called to be is and that the energy of the heart is very powerful, because the trip was a gift and a divine permission, thanks for Your attentions and to be aware of us, we had places to meet, it will be another time, thanks for giving you the opportunity to trust and verify that there are many beautiful beings on the planet that facilitate life, joy and coexistence, , Us and many more.A rainbow of blessings for you and your whole family and a blessed and protected year 2013.
Pilar Peña"

Aprendiendo a nadar en caño cristales

Useful tips for your visit to Caño Cristales


-Recommended to bring a change of clothes to travel. (The journey from your house, the flight and the arrival to the Macarena) This moult left to travel clean on the return.
-A change of clothes to walk. Camibuso or long sleeve shirt, pants that are removed the sleeve and remains as pants. The best are those with fast drying fibers. If they do not have them, it does not matter, those who have, but preferably not wear jeans that take time to dry and heat.
-A change of clothes to cool to sleep, hopefully with long sleeve to prevent the insect bite.
-You are comfortable to walk or sandals for river walk.
-For those who stay in Madre Selva we recommend wearing rubber boots. If suddenly we do not notice and step on a little snake can get mad and can bite us. They do not attack because they do not or persecute humans to poison them, they are more fleeing from them. Part of the jungle's cute things is to see the animals in their wild state. If you see a snake or some animal it is best to look at it, greet it and continue each one in its path. If possible do not disturb him, attack him or take him. They feel the fear of people and they also get nervous.
-bath sandals.


-Documents of identity.
-Camera camera and spare batteries. Also a case to store the camera. Sometimes it rains or you have to cross the river and it can get wet.
-Small towel. (Ask us for a traveling towel that a friend sells)
-Short waterproof jacket or waterproof poncho.
-Light front battery with spare batteries.
-Element elements and personal medicines.
-Morral small that can be used in the flight (maximum 10 kilos of luggage) and that this same can be used in the walks.
- Take repellents of natural insects that do not contaminate the river. (There is one that is prepared with antiseptic alcohol with kitchen nails, it mixes and the next day it works, it's very good.)
-Do not carry a blocker, as we have found that they leave traces of oil in crystalline water.
-Toilet paper stored in a bag in the backpack.
-If you like meditation, wear a pad.
-Ornithology can not be forgotten, being the country with world record in birds and its new 1900 species of birds. Binoculars are very interesting elements that allow you to observe the birds without disturbing them and do not know how incredible it is !! Our guides have been doing inventory of the birds and the fauna and they take in their backpacks the guide of birds of Colombia.
-If you are passionate about photography, take a tripod. The cascadillas that are formed are very nice to photograph with tripod at low shutter speeds.
-Leve cap or hat and sunglasses.
-Hand the goggles to swim. One of the activities that can be performed is to mask and apnea. Even make underwater photography. For this type of photography they sell specialized cameras or cases to store them and to submerge them.
-Once a month we have a meeting in the village of La Cachivera, where Caño Cristales remains. In the little school there are several children of the path who appreciate the school supplies that we can take. Hopefully in good condition and not damaged. Children's stories, colors, brushes, crayons, didactic games. The community and children will mainly appreciate it.


-The only cellular operator that enters the area is Claro and sometimes it is unstable. Mobile data from cell phones work, but sometimes fail.
-In the municipality of la Macarena there are several internet cafe. The best is "El del Mocho."


-In the municipality of la Macarena there is electricity 24 hours. However sometimes it goes away. It is a Macondo village where this kind of thing happens.
-In rural areas like Caño Cristales or the Madre de la Selva reserve there is no electricity.
-"There are two ATMs in the Macarena. One of Bancolombia and another ATH of the Banco de Bogota. But carry the necessary money.
-The only bank in the Macarena is the Agrarian Bank.


Many years ago La Macarena was stigmatized as a dangerous area. Just as it happened to the Colombians and to Colombia in other parts of the world. Today that changed. The social and violence difficulties that the Macarena lived are a thing of the past. The community is looking at life differently and have seen that visitors contribute very well to the local economy. Even since we have been able to visit Caño Cristales we have been doing trainings of young people who have just graduated from high school who see a great opportunity in Tourism and today they are being professional guides. It is a nice team that we have been forming. Whenever we enter the Macarena we process a permit with the Army and Cormacarena (environmental entity of the area), who know who enters and who leave. The first times we went with foreigners was a great novelty for the locals. Nowadays the foreign and Colombian visitors are part of the same landscape of the Macarena. In the town center there is a large battalion of the National Army that controls the safety of tourists and also in the vicinity of Caño Cristales, which has several rings of security.


What makes the Rainbow become a river in Caño Cristales is a magical natural cycle that on the planet is only seen in this place. This phenomenon is allowed thanks to aquatic plants known scientifically as "podostemonaceas". These plants, not algae; Have an absolutely beautiful natural cycle. And it is thanks to our father the SOL, to the biogeographic conditions of the river, to the physical-chemical compositions of the waters, to the rocky formations of Guyanese soil and to the magical miracles of Mother Earth that has these colors. In Caño Cristales there are two particularities of soil; In the upper parts is the stone floor known as Guyanese shield rock, where the vegetation is medium. In the lower parts of the spout the soil is jungle argillaceous, where tall trees grow. These two soil differences mean that there is obviously medium and high vegetation. In the high part the medium vegetation does not make shade, therefore it enters more light to aquatic plants and its photosynthetic cycle gives that red pigmentation. And in the lower parts, trees and vegetation are more sparse, robust and tall; The light that enters the water and podostemonaceas is more scarce, therefore the pigmentation of the plants is green. In conclusion: from the house of Don David and Doña Maria upwards is cano is generally red colors. And from the house of Don David down and in Madre Selva the pipe is green.
The ideal time to see the coloration is from mid-June to mid-December. In the summer (January, February and March) we do not recommend going because the water level goes down, the plants come out of the water and lose one of their main nutrients: water. There must be a level of balance with the water so that the colors are visible and when the rains start from April the plants begin to color again. Likewise if there is a torrential downpour the pipe increases its flow and forms large jets that cover too much the plants, which does not allow to see them. There are times that we are in the most ideal time to visit it and the rain did not let us see the colors or even in some summers it rains and it looks nice the river. As they say also you have to be attuned to the energy of the place so that it can be appreciated in its maximum splendor. Important to be careful not to step on the plants, they are unique in the world and we do not want the load of visitors to run out of us. :)

Top 10 of the most beautiful places in the sector

Here we show the red area of Caño Cristales:

From the house of Don David upstream, there are several attractions that we visit in our turs: The pool of Carol Cristal, the Eights, the Pool of the tourists, (from this point the river trifurca). In the arm of the right The tables of the Law, The ladder, Well Square and the Jump of the Eagle. In the center arm are the Waterfall of the Quartz, Green Pool and Los Pianos. In the left arm we find the Cascada de la Virgen. Generally in our itineraries we leave a day to go through each arm of the part above. Sometimes if there is a good step you can walk two arms in a day.
Note that the coloring of the river in addition to the podostemonaceas; There is also the sky, trees, stones, sand and of course aquatic plants.

colores de caño cristales

Here we show the green area of ​​Caño Cristales:

This area is known as the Pailón. The Madre Selva Reserve is 100 meters from this sector. On our tours we usually leave this area to visit in a day. This sector is more wild and the sensations are different to the other zones.

el pailon caño cristales

Birdwatching Serranía de la Macarena and Caño Cristales

In the area we managed to find approximately 500 species of birds, which means that the area has 27% of birds registered in the country. Throughout these years we have been doing counts of bird species and these are some of the records that we have managed to capture with our cameras. Some of these images of fauna and birds have taken a local guide that we have supported in their studies of bird watching and to which we donate a professional camera. At the moment we are advancing a project to train in photography of wild fauna some children of the village Cachivera, bordering Caño Cristales and where is the Reserve Madre Selva. Below you will find:

Video Caño Cristales Colombia Occulta:

Made by Colombia Occulta team in 2009.