Outrageous Escapism: Caño Cristales, Colombia

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Caño Cristales, Serranía de la Macarena, Colombia


Also known as the "River of Five Colours", this liquid rainbow boasts the deepest shades of red, yellow, green, blue and black. The natural palette is caused by the flourishing of macarenia clavigera, an endemic species of aquatic plant that clings to rocks where the river's current is at its strongest.

The Caño Cristales carves its way through the Sierra de la Macarena's National Park, the meeting point of the Amazon, Orinoco and Andes regions where attractions extend far beyond kaleidoscopic waters. A tour here may take in majestic waterfalls, wild-swimming spots, ancient rock formations and treks across biodiverse jungle, where lucky visitors will spot rare wildlife. Be warned: in a bid to protect the environment, sun cream and mosquito repellent are prohibited here.

Where to stay

Embrace jungle living in the rustic-luxe, eco-friendly La Manigua Lodge, where a terrace opens on to a forest canopy that choruses with the call of rare birds and squirrel monkeys.

What to pack

Cool off in the surrounding rivers in an Asceno Palma square-neck swimsuit. When it comes to staying hydrated, you won't regret packing the Halo reusable water bottle.

Travel tip-off

To experience the Caño Cristales at its most intense hue, visit in the summer months - anytime between July and October, when the algae will have absorbed plenty of sunlight.

How to get there

There are several tours of the Sierra de la Macarena's National Park, including a Viator three-day package that departs directly from Bogotá.

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