Ever wanted to swim in a Rainbow River?

On this Saturday Around the World on EWC, we discover how Colombia’s Caño Cristales can transform from an apparently normal river into a dazzling array of colors for a small amount of time every year!

The magic behind the “Rainbow River” in the Serrania de la Macarena province of Meta, Colombia, starts with a finicky plant, Macarenia Clavigera. This organism clings to the rocks in fast-moving waters and needs very specific light and water level conditions to mature and finally bloom, but when it does, it transforms this body of water into something truly spectacular.

“The magic of the fragile ecosystem is that it changes every year – with each rainy season the river comes back slightly different from the previous year, with different colors and movement of the riverbed.” 1

Here’s The Weather Channel with more on these specific conditions needed…

How stunning is that?

Atlas Obscura gives us a little more information on why this can only be viewed at a specific time of year:

“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.” 3

To keep this natural treasure and the delicate plant lives that create it thriving, there are certain environmental protection rules that are firmly enforced. This includes mandatory guides, small groups and a cap on the number of daily visitors, as well as a complete ban on wearing sunscreen or insect repellent when in the vicinity of the river to avoid polluting it. 4

There’s more hiding out there…

Although there’s no way to know the extent of what other beauties may be out there in the outdoor world waiting to be discovered, here’s a brief intro to what we’ve collected here so far!

First, quickly shuffle through this collection of a few hidden delights…

12 minutes

Eight Hidden Gems Around the World

Take a moment to explore some hidden gems around the world! Head with us to the places that prove it's still an amazing world and give yourself a reminder that you may have some wonders in your own backyard!

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Then make sure you explore the surprise waiting for you in the world’s largest cave found in Vietnam!

30 minutes

Exploring the Underground Rain Forest

Did you know there is an underground rainforest in the world's largest cave? Join us as we explore Hang Son Doong cave in central Vietnam!

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Do you have a favorite hidden natural wonder? Share it with us!

The world will continue on with its natural beauty as long as we protect these fragile and easily affected areas. Keep yourself open to exploring them and discovering what we can all do to ensure their longevity!

  • Sam

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  1. Wooldridge, Anny. “Caño Cristales: What You Need to Know About the Liquid Rainbow.” Culture Trip. Culture Trip, 06 June 2017. Web. 30 Jan. 2018. <https://theculturetrip.com/south-america/colombia/articles/cano-cristales-what-you-need-to-know-about-the-liquid-rainbow/>.
  2. “Strangest Weather on Earth: Only Rainbow River in the World!” YouTube. The Weather Channel, 01 Nov. 2015. Web. 30 Jan. 2018. <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cDAIrwGLDdk>.
  3. https://www.atlasobscura.com/places/cano-cristales
  4. Catchpole, Karen. “Travel – Colombia’s ‘Liquid Rainbow’.” BBC. BBC, 08 Sept. 2014. Web. 30 Jan. 2018. <http://www.bbc.com/travel/story/20140903-colombias-liquid-rainbow>.

Sam has written and edited hundreds of articles since joining the EWC team in 2016. She writes about topics from the wonders of nature to the organizations changing the world and the simple joys in life! Outside of the EWC office, she’s a part-time printmaker, collector of knick-knacks, and taster of cheeses.