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Trip to Caño Cristales, the most colorful river in the world

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A few years ago, the so-called most beautiful river in the world, Caño Crystals, has been "officially" open to tourism Foreign. A place furrowed by rivers of colors and where the FARC guerrillas had one of their favorite spas in Colombia. Today the security is total and any tourist can access the place thanks to the strong presence of the Colombian national army and the calm prevailing in the area.


Trip to Caño Cristales, the most beautiful river in the world

Trip to Caño Cristales, the most beautiful river in the world

If we are looking for travel guides before 2015, it is very strange that Caño Cristales was included. La Macarena in the state of GoalIt has been a strong stronghold of the FARC guerrillas, where famous leaders such as Monkey Jojoy or Fixed Shot, lived in its surroundings.


Trip to Caño Cristales, the most beautiful river in the world

Caño Cristales was commonly visited by Colombians and very few foreigners. The latter were at risk of being kidnapped and therefore the tourist office avoided its promotion. Nowadays it is a thing of the past, at least in part, since bringing up the issue is still taboo and "it is supposed" that there is still a certain revolutionary tax to keep tourism safe. At least it is those who told us its inhabitants.


Trip to Caño Cristales, the most beautiful river in the world

Today Caño Cristales is open, but only for around 300 tourists a day. The quota is limited and is strongly restricted in many more aspects. For example, it is not allowed to enter with disposable water bottles, sunscreen or sunscreen (even before) or, of course, throwing garbage. The theme of sunscreen can be a bit shocking, but everything is right. A little over 10 years ago, Caño Cristales was closed for 5 years by detecting a fungus that was loading the algae. Fungus generated by chemicals brought by sunscreens. Therefore, it is highly recommended to enter the park with a long sleeve and a cap. We will have no other means to protect ourselves from the sun.

Planning our visit to Caño Cristales

An important detail is that Caño Cristales cannot be visited for free. A guide is mandatory to visit all the trails around the river. You can walk freely through the Macarena, but little else. The rest always with a guide. Therefore, it is normal to arrive with a closed hotel + guide package, with or without a plane, since the latter can be purchased on our own.

With all this it is to be assumed that reservations have to be made in advance, especially between april and november, the high season months and when the algae bloom. For example, a 3-day / 2-night package without a plane usually costs 1 million pesos. Air tickets around 300,000 pesos, depending on the anticipation.


Trip to Caño Cristales, the most beautiful river in the world - Satena

Certainly, on our own we can book hotel and plane, but once in the Macarena we have to register our entrance and take the services of a guide. In any case, 60% of tourists arrive with the complete package.


Trip to Caño Cristales, the most beautiful river in the world - La Macarena

The important thing is to know how many days we need. It is normal to stay 2 nights, mainly because most flights are in the morning. 3 days / 2 nights give to make at least two hiking trails and visit something else. 2 days only give to see Caño Cristales and enjoy the Guayabero river little in addition to not being able to see Caño Cristalitos.


Trip to Caño Cristales, the most beautiful river in the world - Río Guayabero

The main excursions that we can do in Caño Cristales / La Macarena are going to be written below. It takes 2 full days to complete each one.

The photographs in this article were taken on cloudy and rainy days, so they were not taken in the best conditions to visit Caño crystals

Excursion to Caño Cristalitos

Caño Cristalitos It is an excursion as an aperitif before visiting Caño Crystals. It is not one of the most common since you have to save a steep slope once we navigate the Guayabero River for 5 kilometers. The start of the route is spectacular, with beautiful views of both sides of the river.


Trip to Caño Cristales, the most beautiful river in the world - Map Caño Cristalitos

After the slope, we will walk through the moor in an area covered with vegetation taken from a Jurassic park. Part of this was razed by a fire in early 2018. However, nature has generated it in a tremendously fast way.


Trip to Caño Cristales, the most beautiful river in the world - Río Guayabero

In the end we will arrive at the Cristalitos canyon gorge and we will see the river covered with those wonderful red algae. Visible especially on sunny days and when the water is not overflowed.


Trip to Caño Cristales, the most beautiful river in the world - Caño Cristalitos

Excursion to Caño Cristales via the Aguila jump route

TheAguila jump route It is the most complete route we can do in Caño Cristales. 16 kilometers of route, whose starting point begins after navigating 15/20 minutes along the Guayabero river and another 30 minutes along a dirt track in very bad conditions and which was built by the FARC.


Trip to Caño Cristales, the most beautiful river in the world - Map Caño Cristales

Like in Caño Cristalitos, we started walking through the paramo surrounded by dense vegetation. The good thing about this route are the bathing places, all spectacular as the next waterfall.


Trip to Caño Cristales, the most beautiful river in the world

From here we will begin to see the river of colors at its best. Waters dyed red, with yellowish touches in the sand at the bottom and many others produced by the waters rich in heavy metals.


Trip to Caño Cristales, the most beautiful river in the world

We will cross the best stretches of the river, places full of beautiful waterfalls and quieter areas and where the algae are allowed to bloom.


Trip to Caño Cristales, the most beautiful river in the world

In the end we will reach Caño Cristales, an accessible part without having to make the route of the Aguila jump and described below.

More information: route of the eagle jump in Caño Cristales.

Excursion to Caño Cristales

From the same point where the 4 × 4 leaves us to make the excursion of the eagle jump, we follow the road until we find the house of Don David (1.5km). From there, just 5 minutes away is the Caño Cristales area and a couple of bathing areas. Don David's house offers meals and refreshments.


Trip to Caño Cristales, the most beautiful river in the world

This area of ​​Caño Cristales is the most saturated of tourists. Especially the second bathing area and where the wooden fences run along the river. It is strictly forbidden to approach waterfalls because of their danger. At least there are two plaques remembering the deceased.


Trip to Caño Cristales, the most beautiful river in the world

Excursion to Caño Piedra

30/45 minutes from the Macarena, in the direction of the landfill and motorcycle circuit, you have Caño Piedra. Located on a private estate where a family that offers meals and refreshments, as well as a bath in the transparent waters of the pipe, is staying.


Trip to Caño Cristales, the most beautiful river in the world - Caño Piedra

Caño Piedra is an Eden. A natural pool of transparent waters and surrounded by lush vegetation for more than 50 meters of travel. A delight for relaxation.


Trip to Caño Cristales, the most beautiful river in the world - Caño Piedra

What can I do if I have time left in La Macarena

Personally I would rent a boat / boat at the Guayabero river jetty and sail with the objective of observing the fauna of the area.


Trip to Caño Cristales, the most beautiful river in the world

In the river there is a lot of wildlife and most of it is easy to locate. For example, turtles abound on the banks, always with their heads up and sunbathing. We can also find small size crocodiles.


Trip to Caño Cristales, the most beautiful river in the world

In the trees there are many types of birds such as Toucans and several families of parrots. There are also monkeys, such as howlers. In short, an excursion that is also worth doing.

Practical data

Before leaving for Colombia

  • Guide of the Lonely Planet of Colombia
  • Airport Transfers
  • Car rental in Colombia with a 15% discount

Is Macarena and Caño Cristales safe?

Strongly yes. The tourist will not observe any problem of insecurity. However we will see that everything is shielded by the army. The FARC has not disappeared and is still latent in the area. In fact it is not advisable to talk about it with the locals unless they bring up the subject. There are very painful wounds that will take years to heal.

What can we do in La Macarena

The town is not very big, but the square where the church of La Macarena stands and the areas adjacent to the Guayabero river are interesting. There we can rent a boat to explore different areas of the river.

There are several establishments that offer dinner plus show, where elJoropo, a traditional llanero dance is the star. It is worth observing the speed with which the feet move, from vertigo.

How much does it cost to go to Caño Cristales

Any trip requires to associate it with a tour of tourism. The prices are generally similar since they make use of the same hotel establishments, vehicles and boats. For example, a 2/3 day trip costs just over 1 million pesos, not counting the plane ticket. To this we must add a tourist entry and exit fee of 6000 pesos.

Example of costs for basic foods:
  • Ham and cheese arepas at 2500 pesos.
  • Soft drink from 300ml to 3500 pesos,
  • Empanadas at 2000 pesos.
  • Beers at 4000 pesos

It is necessary to make a reservation in advance?

It is not mandatory, but recommended. The number of visitors is limited per day, as well as the number of flights arriving in Macarena. Hotels for example are not usually full.

Is the use of a guide mandatory?

Yes. Caño Cristales and surroundings require an official guide. Without the proper guidance, the entry points run by the Colombian national army will restrict our passage by requesting a special permit.

What do I have to take to Caño Cristales

It is recommended to bring plenty of water in a canteen, long-sleeved clothes and a cap. The use of sunscreen is prohibited and this will be requisitioned at the entrance during the review of the backpacks. The same with water bottles or soft drinks,

You can bring food and it is advisable to take it wrapped in palm leaves and not in plastics.

It can rain at any time. An umbrella or a raincoat is recommended.

As there are bathing areas, or you take a bath or wear a swimsuit. The clothes dry very quickly, but not the boots that we will wet for sure at some point.

How to get to Caño Cristales

All tourists arrive by plane, on charter flights or with Satena. It is the safest and fastest way to arrive. La Macarena is 1h from Bogotá. If we go by road it would take more than 24 hours, having to pay revolutionary taxes in several sections. Several tourists have been stopped and forced to pay large amounts of money, so it is a lottery. To this add that the roads are dirt roads in very bad condition, where passing 20 km / h is impossible on many occasions.

Where to eat in La Macarena

Next to the soccer field, between the airport and the Plaza de la Iglesia de la Macarena, there is a small market with establishments made from wooden boards and selling food / drinks at good prices.

Restaurants for tourism where there are shows of Joropo do not offer great food.

Where to sleep in Caño Cristales

Numerous hotels have risen in recent years. None luxury, but if any has a pool and even jacuzzi.
  • Casa Real: next to the church of La Macarena. Simple rooms, with internet, pool and jacuzzi.

Travel insurance

For a trip like this it is best to take out insurance. Iati offers us a offer for followers Travel for free. Traveling does not exempt you from having an accident, needing a doctor, a transfer or medication. Do not play it. Check the travel insurance by clicking on the banner and you will have a 5% in your insurance for being a reader of Travel for free. If you want more information click here.

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