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Cano Cristales

Cano Cristales is a Colombian river located in the Serrania de la Macarena, province of Meta. The river is commonly called "The River of Five Colors," "The Liquid Rainbow" or even "The Most Beautiful River in the World" due to the algae produced colors like red, yellow, green and blue at the bottom of the river giving it a unique appearance. For most of the year, Caño Cristales is indistinguishable from any other river: a bed of rocks covered in dull green mosses are visible below a cool, clear current.

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The River of Five Colors

However, for a brief period of time every year, the river blossoms in a vibrant explosion of colors. During the short span between the wet and dry seasons, when the water level is just right, a unique species of plant that lines the river floor called Macarenia clavigera turns a brilliant red. It is offset by splotches of yellow and green sand, blue water, and a thousand shades in between.

This only happens for a brief period in between seasons. During Colombia's wet season, the water flows too fast and deep, obscuring the bottom of the river and denying the Macarenia clavigera the sun that it needs to turn red. During the dry season there is not enough water to support the dazzling array of life in the river. But for a few weeks from September through November, the river transforms into a veritable living rainbow.

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The Liquid Rainbow

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