La Macarena is a biodiverse national park sheltering majestic mountains and the rainbow-like rivers of Caño Cristales.
One of the real draws of this biologically diverse eco-sanctuary is actually not necessarily the mountains after which the park is named, but instead the region surrounding Caño Cristales: the ‘River of Five Colours’. Known for its bewildering purple, orange, red, yellow and green underwater foliage, sudden sinkholes and waterfalls, tree-lined riverbanks and abundant wildlife, this is one of Colombia’s secret highlights.
At the centre of the national park lies the Serranía La Macarena Mountain Range, a condensed chain of peaks reaching up to 1,600m in height. With these soaring peaks as a backdrop, exploration then comes in the form of wildlife walks, boat rides and visiting the Guayabero River, along with its most enchanting waterfalls. Taking a boat ride along the river or scenic 4x4 drive through the park is an exciting experience in itself, passing the Spring of Cajuche as well as abundant shoreline flora, monkeys, birdlife and maybe even Guayabero Caiman! Ultimately, the waterways will lead to Caño Cristales.
Famous for the beds of multi-coloured plantlife which line each drop and plunge pool, as crystalline water cascades over them, these riverways are a truly kaleidoscopic, otherworldly site. Visitors can swim in these intoxicatingly enticing waters and enjoy this natural spectacle for themselves, courtesy of the river’s many plunge pools and accessible sinkholes. It’s also worth taking the time to enjoy intrepid birdwatching walks and even a picnic lunch on the riverbanks, on the lookout for some of the many species which call this biodiverse area home.
Visit Caño Cristales
The ‘River of Five Colours’, Caño Cristales scintillates in hues of red, yellow, blue, black and green; a stunning sight to behold. This rainbow of colours occurs as Podostemaceae algae carpet the rocks underwater, especially on a sunny day (between the months of June and November). There are designated swimming holes in the river which is a must-do experience; try Piscina del Turista, Piscina de Carol Cristal, Cascada del Aguila, Cascada de Piedra Negra and Caño la Virgen.
Full-day tour of La Macarena
Travelling by boat, road and on foot, you have the entire day to seek out hidden spots, dive into waterfalls and fill your camera with more bewilderingly beautiful photographs of Caño Cristales’ colourful canals, vibrant subtropical flowers, picturesque shores and, if luck is on your side, some of the local wildlife to boot!
El Raudal rock art
Down a previously inaccessible corner of the Guayabero River lies El Raudal, home to enthralling natural rock formations and rock art too. The Cerro Azul, Guaviare and Lindosa are all sites of intriguing drawings engraved into the walls, though little is known about the art as archaeologists have only just begun to investigate them.