Caño Cristales in Colombia: 5 tips for the Rainbow River

Caño Cristales river

The only river in the world that turns red due to water plants

The Caño Cristales River in Colombia is unique. The various colours at the bottom of the river changes every year, making it seem almost unearthly. Much of the river then turns into a living painting with red, yellow, black, white and green.


This explosion of colour is caused by a water plant: the endemic Macarenia Clavigera. The colours of the plant are exactly what makes the Caño Cristales River so extraordinary. The river is very popular on social media. The photos on social media are stunning. It is often called the River of Five Colours, and sometimes called the Liquid Rainbow.

The lovely waters of Caño Cristales.

When can I see the red Caño Cristales river?

The river turns into a colour pallet every year. Although it can differ from year to year. The best months to experience this spectacular river in its array of colours are July, August and September. These months are right between the wet and the dry seasons.

In winter there isn’t enough sun and the river flows too fast. And then Caño Cristales is just another river. But when summer starts the plants blossom and bloom. Bringing the many colours out again. You have to see it to believe it.

The area of Serranía de la Macarena in Colombia

How to get to Caño Cristales river

The river is located in the remote Sierra de la Macarena National Park in Colombia. Make sure you plan your trip well, so you can witness this colourful spectacle.