Caño Cristales – The River of Seven Colors
This Colombian River that is also called the river of seven colours is probably one of the most beautiful rivers on the planet. The different colours that make it so unique arise from freshwater algae in the river bed. One thing up front this place is incredibly stunning. But not only the river itself but the nature that surrounds is as well. It is definitely a very special experience to visit this place and more an off the beaten path experience. Only a few years ago the Meta area surrounding Cano cristales had to be secured by the military. Having said that it is now safe to visit this place and you should not miss out on it. This is indeed a very special and different experience from the regular sights like Tayrona, Salento and Cartagena.
Where is Caño Cristales?
Caño Cristales is located in the region Sierra de la Macarena, in the department of Meta. The climate in this area is hot and tropical.
Best Travel Time?
In order to see the full colourfulness of the river you should go there between June and December. Only during this time the river unfolds his magical colours and is even accessible.
How to get there?
The best is to go to the village La Macarena where you can start your tour. To La Macarena you get by plane from Bogota. You can take the airline Satena every Wednesday, Friday and Sunday. A one way flight will cost you around 200.000 to 300.000 COP.
You can also go with the bus to Villavicencio the capital of Meta and take a Cessna or Douglas DC3 to la Macarena from there. As you can see, the journey to get there will already be kind of an adventure especially when you don’t like flying and you have to get in one of these small planes.
In La Macarena you will find several Hotels and Hostels that will cost between 7 and 20 Euro per night
La Macarena is very small and there is basically only one proper street and 2 – 3 restaurants which are all quiet good and cheap. Obviously don’t expect anything fancy as they offer the typical Colombian down-to-earth food. A menu del dia will cost about 3 Euros and a breakfast 1,50 Euro. With the breakfast it is the same don’t expect much as you won’t get a continental breakfast but mainly eggs and Arepas like in wide parts of Colombia.
Trip to zum Caño Cristales
On site you can book a tour to the river which will cost you about 120 Euro for 3 days. The transport includes transportation like Lancha (little boats), canoes and a jeep ride. Accommodation and tour guide are also included. If you plan the tour with more people it can become cheaper. In Nuqui it was the same there is a fixed price for a tour and the more people join the cheaper it gets for the single people. Lunch I had to bring with this tour myself.
Agencies and All-Inclusive Tour
With an agency you will get the same service the only difference is that the tour is going to be more expensive. A 3 day trip of 2 days and two nights at the river will cost around 450 to 550 Euro. The cost costs include basically everything from the arrival via Bogota, Medellin or Villavicente over food and the return trip. This can be a great option if you don’t have enough time or you don’t feel comfortable to plan the trip by yourself. I personally like planning things by myself and get in touch with the locals. But for whatever option you go you will definitely have a great time. As I mentioned before the cheaper way is definitely the do-it-yourself way.
If you would like to book a tour you can do this under the following link http://www.viajescristalesmacarena.com here Tours of different duration are offered. The 2-day tour costs 980.000 COP
Another agency you can find under this address http://www.cano-cristales.com/
If you would like a private tour guide you can call Andres Navarro +57 3143242159
Conclusion: The River Caño Cristales and the nature that surrounds it are just magical and another Highlight in Colombia a little off the beaten path this is something many tourists in Colombia miss out on. And this amazing experience you should definitely not miss out on.