Tuesday, July 02, 2013

"The River of Five Colors" - Caño Cristales

Caño Cristales is a Colombian river located in the Serrania de la Macarena, province of Meta. The river is commonly called "The River of Five Colors," "The Liquid Rainbow" or even "The Most Beautiful River in the World" due to the striking colors like yellow, green, blue, black, and especially the red of the Macarenia clavigera at the bottom of the river giving it a unique appearance.

A unique biological wonder, Caño Cristales has been referred as the "river of five colors," "the river that ran away from paradise," and "the world's most beautiful river."
For most of the year, Caño Cristales is indistinguishable from any other river: a bed of rocks covered in dull green mosses are visible below a cool, clear current.
However, for a brief period of time every year, the river blossoms in a vibrant explosion of colors. During the short span between the wet and dry seasons, when the water level is just right, a unique species of plant that lines the river floor called Macarenia clavigera turns a brilliant red. It is offset by splotches of yellow and green sand, blue water, and a thousand shades in between.

This only happens for a brief period in between seasons. During Colombia's wet season, the water flows too fast and deep, obscuring the bottom of the river and denying the Macarenia clavigera the sun that it needs to turn red. During the dry season there is not enough water to support the dazzling array of life in the river. But for a few weeks from September through November, the river transforms into a veritable living rainbow.

Caño Cristales is located in a remote, isolated area not easily accessible by road. Adventurous tourists can now fly into the nearby town of La Macarena. From there it is a short trip into "Serrania de la Macarena," the national park in which Caño Cristales is located.

It is a succession of rapids, waterfalls, correones and pocetas whose waters flow from the plateau south of the Serranía de la Macarena, where this birth, behind the oldest tepuis of the Sierra in a rugged area in which numerous rock paintings are still unexplored.

The site was effectively closed to tourists for several years because of guerrilla activity in the region along with concerns about the impact of unregulated tourist traffic. It was reopened to visitors in 2009, and today there are several Colombian Tourist Agencies that will fly travelers to La Macarena. From there, they must make their way to the river site on horseback (or donkeyback) and by foot as part of a guided tour. Visitors are not permitted to stay overnight or cook.

The rocks of the Macarena reach 1200 million years old and are an extension to the west of the called Guiana Shield of Venezuela, Guyana and Brazil, whose rocks are considered the oldest in the world. The rocks of the region belong to the sedimentary cover of the Guaiana Shield.

The biological significance of global of the Macarena is because part of three ecosystems rich in diversity of flora and fauna: Andes, Eastern Llanos and Amazon rainforest. "Every new germs gap rush stations", says José Eustasio Rivera in La Vorágine, referring to this type of vegetation.
In the jungle of the Macarena struggle for nutrients for the soil to populate various fungi that help break down the trunks of trees.

The small circular pits, -giant's kettle- that characterize the river bed have been opened by high hardness minerals. When one of these hard mineral fragments falls into one of the cavities, large or small, begins to brushing rotate with the cavity wall and increases the dimensions of the well.

Caño Cristales has aquatic plants and corals. Its red color is characteristic of endemic plant species corresponds to Macarenia clavígera, plant identified by biologist Jesús Idrobo.

The biome representative of the Serranía de La Macarena is the rainforest subhydrophytic of the thermal floor hot, warm and cold. The mountain is home to about 420 species of birds, ten species of amphibians, 43 species of reptiles and eight primates.

However, the river is totally devoid of fish due to its lack of drag and sedimentation materials. Other channels of the Macarena, also hold red plants in winter, as the Caño Siete Machos. These red plants adhere tightly to rocks in places where the river has more stream.
It is not known what activities can be done in such rivers.

To reach Caño Cristales, it is necessary to travel to the municipality of La Macarena, Meta, in Meta Department. There are two ways to get from Villavicencio, in a DC3 Cargo aircraft coming out every day, or from Bogota, in direct flight that departs every Friday and return on Sunday. Presently, there are no camp sites available near Caño Cristales.
The most ideal months to visit Caño Cristales are from late July to early December.

Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ca%C3%B1o_Cristales

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