The River of Five Colors, Colombia: A Guide
picture of the cover of a sample tour itinerary

Download itinerary

  • Get This Itinerary Now! 📬
  • Hidden
  • Hidden
Colombia News

The River of Five Colors, Colombia: A Guide

5 min read

Mar 9, 2018


By Margo Lynott

Share This Post

Last updated on December 28th, 2020 at 04:29 pm

The River of Five Colors, Colombia: A Guide

Found in the Serranía de la Macarena mountain range is the Caño Cristales river, also known as The River of Five Colors. Visit this natural phenomenon and see first-hand how the macarenia clavigera plant creates the vibrant yellow, green, blue, and red shades that mesmerize its guests. Not only is the river uniquely colorful, but it also features dramatic waterfalls, pools, and caves. Follow along closely to find out what is the Caño Cristales river, where is the Caño Cristales river, when you should visit the River of Five Colors, Colombia, and some more exciting Caño Cristales river facts!

What is the River of Five Colors?


The Caño Cristales river is one of Colombia’s most precious hidden gems, as it remains relatively undiscovered by foreigners. Caño Cristales is referred to as ‘the river of five colors’ because of the explosion of vivacious color that fills the river when the yearly conditions are just right. Where do the radiant colors come from? They come from an endemic aquatic plant called macarenia clavigera! When the water level is just right and there’s enough sunlight, the river will start to feature bright hues.Take a Caño Cristales tour to see this natural beauty up close!

Where is The River of Five Colors?

The river is in the isolated Serrania de la Macarena mountain range, in the province of Meta. The area can be a bit difficult to get to, however, tourists still make the trek just to see the Caño Cristales river. For information on how to get to The River of Five Colors, Colombia, keep reading!

When to Visit The River of Five Colors?


You can visit Colombia at any time of the year. However, the best time to visit Caño Cristales is during the months June to November; it is only during these months of the year that river turns shades of red, blue, yellow, orange, and green. During this time, the temperature and water level is just right for the macarenia clavigera – the plant that determines the color of the river. In fact, the macarenia clavijera plant thrives during the rainy season and dies in the dry season. Therefore, for the most optimal viewing of Caño Cristales, visit during the rainy season from June to November!

You should plan to stay a few days; the show is really extraordinary when the sun is out. By visiting for a few days, you increase your chance to visit the river on a sunny day!

Can You Swim in the River of Five Colors, Colombia?


You might be wondering, can you swim the river of five colors? The answer is yes! The river has little to no fish or other water creatures, so travelers can float or swim in the natural swimming pools and waterfalls, practically undisturbed. However, take long sleeves, a pant, and a hat. It’s forbidden to apply sunscreen on your skin if you enter the park – to protect the aquatic plants. So you’ll want to make sure you have some articles that can protect your skin from the sunshine! Also, note that the Centro Ambiente (Environment Center) is closed on Tuesdays.

How to Get to The River of Five Colors

Traveling to The River of Five Colors is not as easy as getting to other places in Colombia. Caño Cristales is located in la Galería Nacional Natural Serranía de la Macarena. It was an old FARC’s stronghold for a few years. Roads and tourism infrastructures aren’t ideal, but it’s now 100% safe to visit. To help you get a sense of the travel it takes to get to Caño Cristales, I’ve listed some popular routes below.

The River of Five Colors from Bogota by Plane

You can easily catch a direct flight from Bogota to La Macarena every Wednesday, Friday, and Sunday with Satena Airline. On Monday, Wednesday and Saturday there are charter flights from Bogota to La Macarena.

The River of Five Colors from Bogota via Villavicencio

This is the most economical option. Take a bus from Bogota to Villavicencio in the Meta state or “llano.” The estimated time of travel is about 2 hours and 30 minutes. Some bus agencies that travel this route are Bolivariano, Flota la Macarena, and Tax Meta. Once you’ve arrived at the bus terminal in Villavicencio you will have the option to grab a tax or take another bus to the city center. Then you can take the bus to Vanguardia Airport where there are flights to Macarena every day until 10 am. Please note that after 10 am there are no flights to La Macarena; you must wait to travel the next day. The estimated time of travel is 1 hour.

The River of Five Colors from Villavicencio by Plane

Conveniently there are daily flights from Vanguardia airport in Villavicencio to La Macarena (Meta). However, you must be at the airport at 7 am at the latest. Charter flights do not have an exact departure time, and you really do not want to miss your flight. The estimated time of travel is 1 hour.

Planning the perfect travel route to Caño Cristales can be done by yourself, however, it is much easier to let someone help you! Here at, we know the in’s and out’s of travel in Colombia. Simply tell us where you’d like to go, whether that be Cano Cristales or not, and we will plan your ideal Colombia Tour including all of the necessary transportation. We’ll take care of all the details.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
Plan Your Trip to
the Amazon
Machu Picchu
the Galápagos
Create Your Own Custom Tour

Click your preferences: Destinations & Activities. Be as specific or general as you like - or click Help Me Decide! We'll spice it with hidden gems & personal tips to create your perfect trip.

Choose Amazon destinations (optional)
Choose destinations (optional)
Choose Bolivia destinations (optional)
Choose Brazil destinations (opt)
Choose Chile destinations (opt)
Choose Colombia & Panama destinations (optional)
Choose Ecuador & Galapagos destinations (optional)
Choose Paraguay & Uruguay destinations (optional)
Choose Patagonia & Antarctica destinations (optional)
Choose Peru destinations (optional)
Choose Guianas destinations (optional)
Choose Interests
Choose activities
What category of accommodation?

You can choose more than one!

When would you like to go?
How many travelers?
age groups
age groups
Review my trip summary





Highly recommended - Phone: We ❤️ to talk! A brief chat with your personal Travel Consultant helps us create your perfect trip!

Last updated on December 28th, 2020 at 04:29 pm

Hooray! Thanks for Sharing!

If you have an additional 30 seconds we’d love to learn more about you…

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Custom Tour Request Popup

  • Hidden
  • Hidden
  • Hidden
  • Hidden
  • Hidden
  • Hidden
  • Hidden
  • Hidden
  • Hidden
  • Hidden
  • Hidden
  • Hidden
  • Hidden
  • Hidden
  • Hidden
  • Hidden
  • Hidden
  • Hidden
  • Hidden
  • One Moment Please

    We are matching your tour idea with the right Travel Consultant
    who will be in touch shortly.
    Thank you for your request!

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.