Caño Cristales

Technical characteristics

Description of the circuit : Gorges dug by the water and the wind, pots of rocks - the landscape is lunar - the river of Caño cristales contrasts by these variegated hues: pinkish white and intense fuchsias aquatic plants, yellow and ocher rocks, blue reflections of the sky , black deep cracks, ... the famous liquid rainbow.

Travel Theme : Nature Discovery in Colombia

Group : 1 to 6

Duration : 5 days

Arrival city : Bogotá

Departure city : Bogotá

Physical Level : none

Recommended season : From July to November

Accommodation : Intermediate Charm Hotels

Day 1: BOGOTA – MACARENA - CRISTALITO

Starting early this morning in the direction of the airport of Bogota. We will be using a dual engine plane for the 50 minute flight to Macarena. This village is at the crossroads of 3 major bio-geological formations: the Andes, Llanos and Amazon. After having landed, obligatory passage by the information centre to attend a presentation of the rules governing this reserve. From there, we start the discovery of this region.

In the company of our local guide we go by motorized canoe to the entrance of the mirador (lookout). The progressive hike on the flanks of this relief emerging from the jungle will plunge us into landscapes of rocky savannah with lithophyte vegetation. Along the road, we discover traces of the first inhabitants of the region estimated to be about 5,000 years ago. Arrival at the top for a lunch with an exceptional panorama. We continue our way through the savannah landscapes to reach Caño Cristales. The tops of palm trees in the distance announce we arrived at this small tributary to similar landscapes to those of Caño Cristales. Swimming on site before returning to Macarena. Dinner and overnight at a standard hotel in Macarena (Hotel La Fuente(link) or Hotel Punto Verde (link))

Included: breakfast and dinner – English-speaking guide

Note: There is still limited accommodation on offer in Macarena. Other options are possible, especially in lodges outside the city like La Manigua (link)

Note 2: The flight might take place later in the day if the weather is too cloudy. – Site visit may vary according to availability at time of booking.

Day 2: PAILON - CAÑO CRISTALES

According to the schedule assigned by the park, we depart in the morning for the river of Caño Cristales. A short ascent of the river by dugout canoe will undoubtedly allow us to observe some representatives of the local fauna like the yellow-spotted Amazon turtle, the hoazin, the anhinga... At the entrance of the site, a check of your bags take place to ensure no disposable plastic and toxic products are introduced into the reserve. With a 4x4 we visit our first site.

El Paillon river is a tributary of Caño Cristales. Without a doubt, this is the most confined river of the basin with rocks carved by the water passing by. On the flanks of the steep banks, we seek the presence of squirrel- and tufted capuchin monkeys. We eat our typical lunch on the road in the form of fiambre, a traditional meal packed in banana leaves. From there we follow the road through savannah and dry, rocky outcrops until we reach the Caño Cristales river. Under the rays of the sun, the water is adorned with the colours of the rainbow. The hues of pinks and fuchsias of the famous Macarenia clavigera, mingle with the yellow and ochres of the rocks, the blue reflections of the sky and the green of the vegetation... "a piece torn out of paradise," Colombian poet Andrés Hurtado once said. We hike along the river to find the best angles of unmistakable colourful shots. Refreshing swim in this enchanting river before taking the road back to Macarena. Overnight at a standard hotel in Macarena (Hotel La Fuente (link) or Hotel Punto Verde (link))

Included: breakfast and lunch – English-speaking guide

Note: The maximum number of visitors per day is limited to 350 people for Caño Cristales. At the moment, there are 5 different trails, each with its distinct interest. The exact schedule of outings (between 7 and 10am) is defined by the park a few weeks before your stay on the assigned trail

Day 3: PIANO - CAÑO CRISTALES

This day is devoted to a second visit of the sites of Caño Cristales. We take another road from the 5 possible trails possible in the reserve. The Piano trail leads us through the dry landscape typical of the borders of this river. In these sometimes moon-like panoramas, we look for orchids and other epiphytes that have been sheltered from the scorching sun in the shade of palm trees. The site of Piano itself consists of an impressive staircase waterfall at the bottom of a narrow barrel called Coliseum. The falls interspersed with large fuchsia algae colonies are particularly photogenic! This time, we reach the upper stream of Caño Cristales to enjoy one last time these landscapes that look to have been painted by expressionists! For those with snorkel and mask, there is the opportunity to discover the few species of fish living in these waters.

Return to Macarena in the evening. In the evening, typical music groups of the Llanos with guitar, maracas and harp may be playing. We can try to attend one of these performances. Atmosphere guaranteed! Overnight at a standard hotel in Macarena (Hotel La Fuente (link) or Hotel Punto Verde (link))

Included: breakfast and lunch – English-speaking guide

Note: The maximum number of visitors per day is limited to 350 people for Caño Cristales. 5 trails are open this days, each of which has points of distinct interests. The exact schedule of outings (between 7 and 10am) is defined by the park a few weeks before your stay on the assigned trail

Note 2: If possible, try to plan at least two days at Caño Cristales instead of one to maximize the chance to see it under sunlight when the colours are much more impressive than during rain.

Day 4: BOTANICAL GARDEN – HACIENDA OF LOS LLANOS

It would be a shame to come here without taking advantage of the riches offered by a different ecosystem, the humid tropical forests.

Early this morning we cross by 4x4 the private reserve of the Botanical Garden for hiking in some very well preserved space. We will seek, in particular, the white-bellied spider monkey, the brown woolly monkey and several species of macaws and toucans. We cross several ecosystems including savannah's, wetlands, forested areas and floodplains, each conducive to the observation of a distinct flora and fauna.

This visit also allows us to learn more about the way of living in the open area of Los Llanos. We have a typical lunch in the hacienda of the reserve in the company of our guides. In the afternoon, tour of the facilities of the ecological hacienda before heading back to Macarena. We take a canoe to have one last night at the Manigua lodge (link) and enjoy a full immersion into the forest. Dinner followed by a night hike in search of small mammals and amphibians.

Included: all meals – English-speaking guide

Day 5: MACARENA - BOGOTA

Depending of your flight times, we can provide a tour of a site complementary to the region (optional). We are also able to enjoy the place, completely immersed in the forest and go on a short hike in search of monkeys and birds like the motmot for example.

Then return to Macarena for your flight to Bogota or Villavicencio where you continue your journey and continue your discovery of Colombia.

Included: breakfast– English-speaking guide

Note: The flight might take place later in the day if the weather is too cloudy.

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Caño Cristales

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Net price per person depending on group size

Choose Number of people: Price Per Person: $1 790.00 $1 080.00 $850.00 $730.00 $670.00 $630.00

Our prices include
  • All entrances fees
  • English-speaking guide and local guide, mandatory in the reserve
  • Private transportation by car and canoe to Macarena
  • All transfers as mentioned to Macarena, transfer to the airport of Bogota on day 1
  • 24h Assistance
  • Accommodation in double room with private bathroom (standard hotels)
  • Meals as mentioned with picnic lunch during some hikes
Our prices not include
  • International flight (You can check our list of tour operators offering flights)
  • All excursions and activities indicated as optional in the program.
  • Excess baggage on local flights (10kg allowed on the domestic flights)
  • Some dinners (allow between US$ 8 and 15/person/meal)
  • Single occupancy
  • Soft drinks and alcoholic beverages for all meals
  • Personal expenses
  • Tips
  • Personal insurance
  • Payment charges