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Caño Cristales

Deep in the Colombian Llanos is a mountain called La Serranía de la Macarena, from this mountain a stream originates which later in its journey evolves to become what is commonly known as the world’s most beautiful river. That river is Caño Cristales.

Our complete Caño Cristales FAQ is now online

Caño Cristales is a landscape stretching across several tributaries of the river where the aquatic plant Macarena Claveria is found. The underwater plants produce a spectacular kaleidoscope of almost psychedelic colours.

From deep greens to reds, back to green, to dark orange, all juxtaposed with the deep blue of the river’s waters. This display of colours in both branches of the river is what brings tourists flocking to Caño Cristales.

Due to the low elevation the climate is hot and tropical with brief and intense storms. After such a storm is when a trip to Caño Cristales is best as the aquatic plants will appear at their most vivid. The best time for travel is from mid May to early December.


  • Yellow fever vaccinations are mandatory. You will be denied services if you are unable to produce a valid certificate.
  • You will need good quality light layered clothes for the daytime and warmer clothes for the night, the area can be very humid. You also need to take a waterproof lightweight coat.
  • Caño Cristales is capacity restricted and only a certain number of permits are issued by NPP La Macarena’s park authority. We recommend early booking to ensure the availability of permits.


In Colombia one seldom finds nature’s marvels within easy reach, so even the journey to Caño Cristales is a formidable experience. Your journey begins in Bogotá from where you travel by bus to Villavicencio, the capital of the Meta department. From there you will travel in a chartered aircraft, depending on the group size, this will be a Cessna or a nostalgic flight in a Douglas DC3.

The flight passes over Colombia’s seemingly infinite Llanos plains interwoven with the Amazon’s tributaries. The total flight time is about 40 minutes before you reach your stopover in the village of La Macarena. This part of the Meta department has a troubled and chequered recent past, once it was a centre of coca production where coca paste was traded in the village’s main square in front of the church. It has only recently become viable as a mainstream safe tourist destination and today, La Macarena is home to a Colombian military base. You will be reminded of the village’s role in the cocaine trade as the village now has a heavy and highly visible military presence.

The trip from Bogotá is a 3 day adventure, the first day is an early morning departure to reach La Macarena by approximately 10.30am. Once checked into your hotel you make your first excursion along Río Guayabero to Caño Cristales.

The second day of your trip you spend the full day visiting whichever branch of the river that you did not visit on the previous day, the third day has an early start with more sightseeing before returning to the airport of La Macarena and taking the plane back to Villavicencio.

Our Caño Cristales plans are all inclusive tours. We do not unbundle services for travellers making their own flight and/or accommodation arrangements.

We also have 1 night, 3 night and 4 night packages to Caño Cristales. Contact us for our full schedule of plans and our informative FAQ about Caño Cristales tours.


The Colombian Way offers the most comprehensively inclusive Caño Cristales package available. Ask for our full list of prices and options. Our headline 2 nights 3 day package includes

  • Return air transport from Villavicencio to La Macarena
  • 2 nights in a comfortable hotel in La Macarena village
  • 3 meals per day
  • River and land transfers from La Macarena village to Caño Cristales
  • Expert local guides with a thorough knowledge of the area.
  • Emergency medivac insurance.


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