Caño Cristales (Cano Cristales)
On the ancient Serrania de la Macarena tableland in Colombia is found one of the most spectacular rivers in the world – Cano Cristales. Bottom of this river is colored in seemingly unnatural, gaudy colors.
Map of the site
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Serrania de la Macarena
Serrania de la Macarena is the far western outpost of Guiana Shield – the same geological formations which in Venezuela forms the famous tepuis with such landmarks as the world’s tallest waterfall – Angel Falls.
This tableland for the most part consists of very hard rock – quartzite and has formed some 1.2 billion years ago. Thus this tableland is much older than, for example, Andes.
Over this long period of time on tableland have evolved numerous unique species of plants and animals. Serrania de la Macarena has served as a natural laboratory where have been created many species which are now spread in a much larger area.
This tableland with its hard bedrock is very poor with nutrients and life has adapted to this – many species which are met here are not found anywhere else in the world.
Rio Cano Cristales
Over the sturdy cliffs of Serrania flow several streams and one of the largest is Rio Cano Cristales. This by far is not a large river – less than 100 km long and up to 20 m wide. In summer it can become almost dry and its crystal clear water is that low on nutrients that here lives no fish (what also helps to keep water crystal clear).
River is fast, with many rapids, waterfalls and unusual potholes – giant’s kettles which have been created by pebbles or larger stones turned by the stream and grinding the bedrock.
This river is world famous thanks to its unique plant and algae composition that makes its bottom unusually colorful. The dominating color is caused by water plant Macarenia clavigera – endemic plant which grows only in this part of Colombia. Besides the red color the water of stream, sand and algae create other gaudy colors – yellow, green, blue and black. Due to this the stream is nicknamed also "The River of Five colors" or "The Liquid Rainbow".
Especially beautiful it is in the time period after the rainy period, in late July – November when the red Macarenia clavigera thrives.
Site is protected – it is inside the Serrania de la Macarena National Park, but at the same time here is developed tourism, sustaining the life of many local families.
- Caño Cristales. Accessed in 11.07.2014.
Caño Cristales are included in the following article:
This enormous and extremely diverse country has many spectacular landmarks. Many Colombian attractions are little known and even not named – there are many wilderness areas still waiting for explorers.
Biotope is a rather small area with uniform environmental conditions and a specific community of life. Wondermondo describes biotopes and ecosystems which have striking looks, look very beautiful, or have other unusual characteristics.
There are many factors that can make lakes, sea bays, or rivers unusual. Some lakes have unusual chemical properties and even do not contain water at all – such as lava lakes. Others may have unusual animals living in them or… legends about such animals.
En busca de Caño Cristales es ante todo un libro de viajes por Colombia, que se extienden durante cuatro décadas sucesivas, de 1971 hasta el presente. En un lenguaje narrativo que en no pocos pasajes está a la altura de los mejores relatos de viajeros que se han escrito sobre América Latina, Robert Mykle logra captar el pulso de la vida cotidiana que se esconde detrás de las transformaciones ambientales, económicas, sociales y culturales que experimentó el país en el transcurso de esos años.
Idyllic colonial towns and fast-paced cities, jaw-dropping mountains, and stunning beaches: see it all with Moon Colombia.