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Trip to the Loveliest River in the World: Caño Crystals

4.97(14 reviews)Bogotá, D.C. - La Macarena

Caño Crystals: The Loveliest River in the World

roadtrip:info.availableIn Spanish

Adventure, Cultural, Ecotourismroadtrip:info.difficultyLevel Medio Bajo departuresFrom Bogotá, D.C. 3 roadtrip:info.days

Caño Cristales, located in La Macarena, Meta has been catalogued by many travel writers and experts as the loveliest river in the world and has been showered with epithets for its incomparable beauty.

The cause of so much enthusiasm is an aquatic plant, which floods the river with a variety of colours ranging from bright green, to acid yellow to an eye-watering pink, making the river itself one of the natural wonders of our lovely planet home.

🌅 Explore the National Natural Park of La Macarena

🌅 Encounter the prettiest river in the world, Caño Cristales

🌅 Enjoy a wonderful stay in the Eastern Plains (Los Llanos)

🌅 Cruise down the River Guayabera in a canoe

🌅 Disconnect utterly from your daily routine, to reconnect with Nature.


Day 1

Our flight leaves from Bogota El Dorado airport, check in and boarding and the flight taking off at …….. We arrive on our small aircraft in the Municipality of La Macarena and will attend an induction session regarding the environmental sensitivity of the area by the local authorities before arriving at our accommodation, where we will be given a room to change our clothes if needed and leave our luggage, as our assigned rooms will only be given to us at 15.00pm.

On this first day of the trip we will visit one of four locations assigned by the local authorities which they rotate according to conditions. These are: Alternative 1: Caño Cristalitos, Alternative 2: Caño Piedra, Alternative 3: El Mirador, Alternative 4: Rio Bajo Lozado.

We will have lunch during this period of time and later return to the town of La Macarena by the same route we took to get to one of the four alternative sites, these routes will vary. Check-in is at 3pm, after which the afternoon can be joyfully spent in and by the very attractive swimming pool of the hotel, surrounded by a beautifully planted garden before enjoying an excellent dinner and retiring for the night.

Day 2

Breakfast is served very early to comply with the timetables organised by the local authorities, and the time is confirmed the night before. The trip to Caño Cristales starts with a 20 minute ride in a canoe down the Rio Guayabera, enjoying wonderful views, looking out for the howler monkeys hiding out in the tree canopies, hoping to spot an iguana or two stretched out on a branch over the water or enjoying the sight and sound of the many many different kinds of birds who live by the water`s edge. On landing, we travel overland in pickup trucks and Colombian jeeps until we reach the source of Cajuche, where there is a check point where we will be given instructions on how to behave during our time in the park so as not to damage the wonders of nature we have travelled so far to see. The local authority, Cormacarena and the Parks Service will determine at this point which route we take to visit the river, depending on how many visitors are in the park at that time, and depending most importantly on the physical condition of the visitor.

Only one route can be visited per day to be able to manage visitor numbers in the park.

Route 1: The plains of Caño Cristales (High Degree of Difficulty): Hidden Canyon, Virgin`s waterfall, Flat rocks waterfall, Goddess of the Macarena,  Paso Mojado

Route 2: Caño Cristales, Eagle`s Leap (High degree of difficulty): Stone staircases of black rocks and the black waterfall. The waterfall of Eagles Leap, the Stone Tablets.

Route 3: Pillars of Caño Cristales (Medium degree of difficulty), the Hill of Las Marimbas. The Narrows, the swimming hole of Pailón.

Route 4: The Hidden canyon of Caño Cristales (Low degree of difficulty), the natural swimming pool of Karol, the visitors swimming hole, Los Echos, Los Quarzos Tapetes.

Lunch will be an informal, picnic lunch, food wrapped in banana leaves called `bijaos`, ensuring that our picnic by the river leaves no plastic waste, and then we return to the town by the same route and means by which we arrived at Caño Crystals. That night we will enjoy a spectacular show put on by our hosts of wonderful Llanera culture: fabulous music, a superb ´Joropo´ dance show, laughter, delicious local food & drink and great company before rolling happily into bed.

Day 3

After a hearty breakfast, we travel by canoe for 20 minutes down the river Guayabero, soaking up the landscape a bit more on our final day, followed by a 30-minute jeep ride from Puerto los Mangos to the Cajuche Spring (manantial del Cajuche. We will visit the path chosen by our guides from Cormacarena, the local authority managing the area, and the experts from the National Park Service. Note: Every day, different routes are chosen by the experts, you will never take the same route twice and if you travel over a long weekend or a bank holiday then on the last day you will NOT visit Caño Crystals according to the rules of the local authorities but instead will be led to one of the following alternative routes:

Route 1: (High degree of Difficulty) Senderos los pianos de Caño Cristales (the path traversing the plains of Caño Cristales): Hidden Canyon. Waterfall of the Virgen, Waterfall of the Plains, Goddess of the Macarena, Wet Steps.

Route 2: (High degree of Difficulty) Sendero Salto del Àgila de Caño Cristales (the path of Eagles Leap at Caño Cristales). Staircase of the Square Well, Black Rock, Black Waterfall, Eagles Leap Waterfall, Stone Tablets.

Route 3: 

(Medium degree of Difficulty) Sendero los Pailones de Caño Cristales (the path of the rock pools of Caño Cristales). Monte de las Marimbas, the Narrows, RockPool Swimming Hole.

Route 4: 

(Low degree of Difficulty) Sendero Caño Escondido de Caño Cristales: Karol Swimming Hole, Tourist Swimming Hole, Los Ochos, the Quartz Carpets.

After these activities, we return to the town of La Macarena by the same route and means by which we arrived, to enjoy a delicious lunch before heading to the airport to return to Bogota.


Caño Cristales

Caño Cristales, although not one of the longest or widest rivers, spans less than 100km and never exceeds 20 meters in width. Instead of a navigable river, it's characterized by a series of rapids, waterfalls, canyons, and swimming holes. Its waters originate from the highlands of the Macarena mountain range, bordering the oldest tepuyes of the Sierra. These waters, exceptionally pure, showcase visible algae on the riverbed rocks. Amidst dense forests and adorned with ancient wall paintings, many inaccessible, Caño Cristales is a hidden gem. Its beauty merges with the River Guayabero, mingling with numerous watercourses from the rocky Sierra terrain, offering a stunning backdrop to.

National Natural Park of the Macarena Mountain Range

One of the most important natural reserves in the world due to the tremendous biodiversity of flora and fauna. It’s easy to say that a reserve is one of the most important in the world, what makes this statement a fact is that there is a vast range of ecosystems all located in one place: cloud forest, altitudinal zones which are hot as well as cool, dense forest and `matorrales` desert-like conditions, cacti and animals. A veritable jewel box of climates, vegetation and animals.


Airline tickets Bogotá - La Macarena - Bogotá
Ground and River Transportation in La Macarena
Request for entry permit to the Park
Meals (2 breakfasts, 3 lunches, and 2 dinners)
Guidance and environmental interpretation
Medical assistance insurance
Not included: La Macarena airport fee $12,000. Municipality entrance tax $35,000 for nationals and $53,000 for foreigners. Social contribution to rural communities and risk management $65,000.
Not included: Cormacarena entrance tax $40,762 for nationals - $62,140 for foreigners. National Natural Parks entrance tax $41,000 for nationals and $62,000 for foreigners.


Conduct a screening survey and report if you have any symptoms of coronapp.
Use Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) during the trip, and follow the recommendations of the travel coordinators and guides.
The hikes do not require experience. However, consider the distance to be covered and the difficulty of the trail. The difficulty of these trails is Moderate Level.


What to wear in Caño Cristales?

Light, comfortable, breathable fabrics for the activities. Long sleeves to protect from the sun, long trousers to protect from the vegetation which is robust and can be thorny. Jeans are not recommended: you will get wet during the day, either from rain, from humidity of after swimming, in addition to which the humidity can be really tough and you will hate your heavy fabrics very quickly. Bring a hat with a brim and protection for your neck, the sunshine is intense. Shoes which fit tight to your feet, there are no paved paths, and there are lots of slippery rocks to navigate, bearing in mind that these shoes will be wet for the entire time you are in the park. Highly recommended to bring shoes suitable for swimming activities: river shoes, water sports shoes to change into and also some comfortable shoes for when you are back in town, at the hotel and at dinner.

What is prohibited in Caño Cristales?

It is strictly prohibited and enforceable by fines and even sentences to remove any kind of plant or animal material from the Park. You are surrounded by guides all day and all the other visitors are also people aware of the sensitivity of the ecosystem, even picking a flower will be observed and commented on.

Equally important: it is strictly prohibited to wear any kind of product on your skin which could damage the ecosystem and this is enforced by the Local Authority who will happily go through your rucksack at the meeting point when they assign which walks we all go on. This means: no sun screen of any kind, no deodorant, no insect repellent, no make-up, no hand-sanitiser, and they will go through the ruck sack of any one they believe to be carrying forbidden products. This includes even the most environmentally-friendly products, the guides will simply not allow you to take any chemicals to the river. Consequently, when you shower in the morning at the hotel, avoid soap and during the day, you have to be comfortable with the idea of being `au naturel`.

Also no smoking, drinking of alcohol, using drugs, drinking from the river, urinating in the river or bringing plastics into the river. You need a camel bag inside your rucksack, or some other method of bringing water into the park which does not involve single-use plastic. For example, if you buy a bottle of water at the corner shop next to the hotel, the guides will take it from you at the meeting point. If you buy the same bottle and fill up your metal water bottle, then you’re fine.

Why so harsh?

The aquatic plant which gives the river its spectacular colours is highly sensitive to chemicals, and has at different times been in danger of dying out from misuse of the river. The locals are highly protective, and rightly so, of this wonderful place and expect us to be equally respectful.

Essentials in Caño Cristales?

Small rucksack with two shoulder straps as the paths can be narrow and slippery, water container which is not single use plastic, 2 litres of water per person to cope with the humidity, waterproof jacket, swimming costume, watersports shoes and goggles for swimming, you won’t want to miss the underwater sights, and crucially a camera with empty memory cards.

Pro Tips

This is a region which was heavily afflicted by the difficulties of Colombia`s past and which is now getting used to having an economy based on tourism. Spend freely on hand-made articles from the region, knick-knacks, ponchos, fridge magnets, every effort to consolidate tourism is greatly appreciated. 

Vegetarians and people with other dietary requirements please inform in writing at the time of making the reservation to give time to our hosts to prepare alternatives.

If you have any health issues or allergies, please let us know in advance so we can advise you: La Macarena is spectacular, but it is not a place which offers first-world comforts and accommodation is respectable but basic.


We want to convince you to visit this magical place, and to ensure that you feel comfortable and at ease during your stay, we offer you the best hotels in La Macarena. We guarantee you the best rest so that you can face the adventure boldly. You will have a tranquil and private journey, thanks to our charter flights that will give you the best experiences with just 1 hour of flight time. From the very beginning, you won't miss a thing. Book your trip to Caño Cristales now.

To go to Caño Cristales from Bogotá, we have direct departures from El Dorado Airport, only on Mondays, Thursdays, and Saturdays. The flight duration is 1 hour without stops. The flight departure is scheduled between 6:00 and 8:00 am.

Relevant Information:

  • Please be aware that you are responsible for your belongings. Protect your electronic devices and personal documents from rain and humidity.
  • Ensure your cellphone is fully charged; this will allow you to take photos and use it in case of an emergency.
  • Your safety is very important, so please be prudent. Always keep the group in sight and follow the guide's instructions.
  • Do not participate in a hike if you are sleep-deprived, under the influence of alcohol, pregnant, or have medical conditions.
  • Strictly adhere to your doctor's instructions regarding injuries, and if necessary, bring your personal medications.


4.97(14 reviews)

Avatar Maria

¡Excelente experiencia! La organización, los guías, el destino, la comida, entre otros, estuvieron muy bien. Los recomiendo....

Avatar Angela

Excelentes Guías y acompañamiento en todo el viaje. Un destino increíble....

Avatar Leslie

De las mejores experiencias!! 20/10 todo fue excelente, muchas gracias 😊...

Avatar Isabel

Caño Cristales es un lugar maravilloso, que ojalá todos pudieran visitar. La organización del viaje con Road Trip fue impecable, se cumplió lo promet...

Avatar Juan

Una experiencia maravillosa, excelente absolutamente todo, el vuelo, el hospedaje, la comida, la atención, los paisajes un regalo de Dios y de la madr...

Avatar Julien

Buen organización global. Pero podría compartir un poco mas de informaciones en los horas de los vuelos. La guía no dio muchas informaciones tampoco....


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