A landscape of a thousand colours, Caño Cristales never ceases to amaze nature lovers and photographers alike.

Gorges carved by water and wind, rock pools - the landscape is lunar - the Caño Cristales river contrasts with its variegated hues: the pinkish whites and intense fuchsias of the aquatic plants, the yellows and ochres of the rocks, the blue reflections of the sky, the black of the deep cracks... the famous liquid rainbow.

Colombia
5 days
From 770 US$
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Dorian Noël

Naturalist and scientific travel expert

Dorian Noël
nature@ecuador-experience.com
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5 5 days

Day 1: Bogotá – Macarena - Caño Cristalitos

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Early morning departure for Bogota airport. We'll take a twin-engine plane for the 50-minute flight to La Macarena. This village lies at the crossroads of 3 major bio-geological formations: the Andes, the Llanos and the Amazon. After landing, we will be given a presentation of the rules governing this reserve. We can then begin our exploration of this region.

Accompanied by our local guide, we'll take a motorboat to the entrance of the Mirador. The gradual hike up the slopes of this relief emerging from the jungle will plunge us into landscapes of savannah and rocks with lithophite vegetation. Along the way, we'll come across traces of the first humans in the region, estimated to be around 5,000 years old. We arrive at the top of the mountain for  lunch with an exceptional panoramic view. We then continue our journey through savannah landscapes to reach Cano Cristalito. The tops of the palm trees in the distance herald our arrival to this small tributary with landscapes similar to those of Cano Cristales. We will enjoy a swim before returning to La Macarena.

Dinner and overnight stay in La Macarena in a mid-range hotel.

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Specialized guide

Day 2: Pailón - Caño Cristales

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Depending on the time allocated by the park, we will leave in the morning for the Cano Cristales river. A short trip up the river in a pirogue canoe will give us a great opportunity to see some of the local fauna, such as the Amazonian yellow-headed turtle, the Hoazin (Stinky Turkey), the Anhinga, etc. At the entrance to the site, bags will be checked to ensure that no disposable plastic or toxic products have been brought into the reserve. We then travel by 4-wheel drive to our first site.

El Pailón is one of the tributaries of Cano Cristales. It is undoubtedly the most deeply gouged out part in the basin, with its rocks sculpted by the waters. On the sides of these steep banks we'll be looking for squirrel monkeys and brown capuchins. We'll have a local style lunch on the road - fiambre, a meal wrapped in banana leaves. Then it's back on the road through dry savannah and rocky outcrops to the Cano Cristales river. Under the sun's rays, the water takes on the colours of a rainbow. The pink and fuchsia hues of the famous Macarenia clavigera mingle with the yellows and ochres of the rocks, the blue reflection of the sky and the greens of the vegetation... ‘a piece torn from paradise’, in the words of the Colombian poet, Andrés Hurtado. We'll hike along the banks of the river to find the best angles for our colourful photos. A refreshing swim in this enchanting river before heading back to La Macarena.

Dinner and overnight stay at La Macarena in a mid-range hotel.

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Specialized guide

Day 3: Piano - Caño Cristales

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This day will be devoted to a second visit to the Cano Cristales site. We'll be taking another of the 5 trails available on the site. The Piano trail will again take us through the dry landscapes typical of the banks of this river. In these sometimes lunar-like panoramas, we'll be looking for orchids and other epiphytes sheltering in the shade of the palm trees. The Piano site itself features an impressive staircase cascade at the bottom of a narrow canyon known as the Coliseum. The falls, interspersed with large colonies of fuchsia algae, are particularly photogenic! This time we'll be heading upstream to Cano Cristales to enjoy these expressionist landscapes one last time. If you've got your masks on, another swimming session will allow you to discover the many species of fish that inhabit these waters.

Return to La Macarena in the evening. Typical Llanos music groups - guitar, maracas and harp - sometimes perform here in the evening. We can try to catch one of these performances. The atmosphere is guaranteed!

Self-paid dinner and overnight in a mid-range hotel in La Macarena.

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Specialized guide

Day 4: Botanical Gardens - Haciendas Llanos

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It would be a shame to come this far without enjoying the riches of another ecosystem, the tropical rainforest.

Early this morning we'll take a 4x4 to the Botanical Garden's private reserve for a walk through some very well-preserved vegetation. We'll be on the lookout in particular for white-bellied spider monkeys and woolly monkeys, as well as several species of macaw and toucans. We will cross several ecosystems, including wet savannah and areas of flooded forest, each of which is ideal for observing a different type of flora and fauna.

This tour will also give us an opportunity to discover a little more about the local way of life in the more open areas of the Llanos. We'll have a typical local lunch in the reserve's hacienda, in the company of our guides. In the afternoon, we visit the facilities of this ecological hacienda before heading back to La Macarena. We will then take a pirogue canoe to the Manigua lodge for our last night in the reserve, where we will be immersed in the forest.

Dinner and a night out in search of small mammals and amphibians.

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Specialized guide

Day 5: La Macarena - Bogotá

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Depending on your flight schedule, we can arrange a short visit to a complementary site in the region (optional). We can also take advantage of the fact that we are completely immersed in the forest and go on a short hike in search of species of monkeys and birds such as the Motmot.

We will then return to La Macarena for your flight to Bogotá (or Villavicencio), where you will continue your journey and your exploration of Colombia.

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Specialized guide

Dates of the next departures

Departures between mid-June and mid-November. Please contact us for a personalised departure date.

You want a personalized departure date? Contact us. Request a personalized date

Prices per person

2 travelers 4 travelers 6 travelers
1,440 US$ 930 US$ 770 US$

You are a group of travelers and want a special rate? Contact us. Request a personalized quote

Included

  • All entrance taxes
  • English-speaking guide and compulsory local guide on park sites
  • Private transport by car and canoe to La Macarena
  • All transfers as mentioned from La Macarena, Transfer to Bogota airport on day 1
  • 24-hour assistance
  • Accommodation in double room, private bathroom (mid-range hotels)
  • Meals as mentioned, picnics for some hikes

Not included

  • International flights. (You can consult our list of tour operators offering flights only)
  • Excursions and activities indicated as optional in the
  • Baggage weight supplements for flights (10 kg authorised on domestic flights)
  • Certain dinners (approx. value between $8 and $15.00usd/pers/meal)
  • Single room supplement
  • Soft and alcoholic drinks with all meals
  • Personal expenses
  • Tips
  • Personal insurance
  • Bank charges for payments
  • Flight Bogota - Macarena - Bogota US$180.00

Payment and reservation terms

To book your tour, please confirm your agreement in writing to your local agent.

  • A deposit of 30% of the full invoice amount is required at the time of booking.
  • The balance must be paid no later than 45 days before arrival in Colombia.

The agency denies all responsibility for the provision of the confirmed services in the event of non-compliance with the above payment terms.

Important note

Itineraries may be subject to last-minute changes due to natural disasters or changes in national legislation. The operator therefore reserves the right to make any changes necessary to guarantee the safety and integrity of travellers and to comply with the laws in force. Hotel names are given for information only and are subject to availability at the time the tour is booked. In the event of unavailability, a hotel of the same category will be offered where possible.

* In US dollars based on 6 participants in a double room. These rates are valid for the dates selected but may be subject to change at the time of booking, depending on the tourist season and local holidays. Our quotations are calculated in US Dollars and we are committed to this amount. The equivalent value in Euros or any other currency is therefore indicative and calculated on the basis of the exchange rate on the day of the offer.

** Air fares are based on the current year's fares but may vary depending on the airline and availability at the time of booking.

Your guide for this trip

José Ferney Salgado

José Ferney Salgado

en es fr
Colombian by birth, he dedicated the last 15 years of his life to follow with the binocular birds of Colombia. Of the 1880 species of the country he has some 1200 to his credit until then. He is currently in the Top Ten register Ebird 2019. He received a scholarship from the French Alliance of Manizales to continue studying the language of Molière. He knows perfectly every nook and cranny of the country and will accompany you during bird watching and naturalistic observation trips to Colombia. When, with his wife, he does not take care of these three children, both of them are very happy to pursue their new passion: animal photography. And the time they have left, they dedicate it to several conservation and sustainable tourism development projects.

Characteristics of the trip

Travel theme

Nature discovery and photography

Arrival city

Bogotá

Departure city

Bogotá

Accomodation

Charming mid-range hotels

Physical condition

Easy

Best season

Between mid-June and mid-November
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