Caño Cristales is a river in Colombia. It’s also known as “the liquid rainbow”, “the river of five colors”, “the river that ran away from paradise” and “the most beautiful river in the world”. Big names for a river, but what makes it so special?
For a couple of weeks between the wet and the dry season the water level and flow is just right to create a spectacle. During that time, a plant (Macarenia Clavigera) growing on the riverbed turns bright red. Together with the yellow and green color of the sand and various other color shades created by the sun shining through the foliage, the river really does become “the liquid rainbow”.
Most of the year, the Caño Cristales is a river just like any other. During the wet season, the water flows too fast and the water level is too high to allow the sun’s rays through to the riverbed. The opposite happens during the dry season, when there’s not enough water in the river to support this explosion of plant life.