Known as one of the world's most beautiful rivers, Colombia's Caño Cristales, located in the Macarena Mountains, has been called everything from "The River of Five Colors" to the "The Liquid Rainbow." During much of the year, it's indistinguishable from any other river, but for a short period between the wet and dry seasons, Caño Cristales blossoms into a dramatic show of vibrant colors.
This natural occurrence is caused by an eruption of plant life, which transforms the river into a blanket of brilliant reds offset by dark oranges and deep greens, dramatically altering the entire landscape into a kaleidoscope of colors. Aside from the spectacle of Caño Cristales itself, travelers and nature lovers can spot native wildlife, including turtles, iguanas, macaws and aguilas, and perhaps even swim beneath one of the area's numerous waterfalls or natural pools.
In order to really do this natural phenomenon justice, it's best to book a three- or four-day tour to Caño Cristales from Bogotá, Medellín or La Macarena Airport. It's not possible to visit Caño Cristales on your own—a guide is necessary.
Insider's Tip: The climate around Caño Cristales is tropical, with brief and intense storms. After a storm is often the best time to visit, as plants will be at their most vivid.
The Caño Cristales season runs from May to December.