Caño Cristales

Note: The Caño Cristales season runs from mid May to the start of December. It is not possible to book tours outside of these dates

Deep in the Colombian Llanos is a mountain called La Serrania de la Macarena, from this mountain a stream originates which later in its journey evolves to become what is commonly known as the world’s most beautiful river. That river is Caño Cristales.

Caño Cristales is a landscape stretching across several tributaries of the river where the aquatic plant Macarena Claveria is found. The underwater plants produce a spectacular kaleidoscope of almost psychedelic colours.

From deep greens to reds, back to green, to dark orange, all juxtaposed with the deep blue of the river’s waters. This display of colours in both branches of the river is what brings tourists flocking to Caño Cristales.

Due to the low elevation the climate is hot and tropical with brief and intense storms. After such a storm is when a trip to Caño Cristales is best as the aquatic plants will appear at their most vivid. The best time for travel is from mid May to early December.

Important:

  • Yellow fever vaccinations are mandatory. You will be denied services if you are unable to produce a valid certificate.
  • You will need good quality light layered clothes for the daytime and warmer clothes for the night, the area can be very humid. You also need to take a waterproof lightweight coat.
  • Caño Cristales is capacity restricted and only a certain number of permits are issued by NPP La Macarena’s park authority. We recommend early booking to ensure the availability of permits.

Programme:

In Colombia one seldom finds nature’s marvels within easy reach, so even the journey to Caño Cristales is a formidable experience. Your journey begins in Bogotá from where you travel by bus to Villavicencio, the capital of the Meta department. From there you will travel in a chartered aircraft, depending on the group size, this will be a Cessna or a nostalgic flight in a Douglas DC3.

The flight passes over Colombia’s seemingly infinite Llanos plains interwoven with the Amazon’s tributaries. The total flight time is about 40 minutes before you reach your stopover in the village of La Macarena. This part of the Meta department has a troubled and chequered recent past, once it was a centre of coca production where coca paste was traded in the village’s main square in front of the church. It has only recently become viable as a mainstream safe tourist destination and today, La Macerena is home to a Colombian military base. You will be reminded of the village’s role in the cocaine trade as the village now has a heavy and highly visible military presence.

The trip from Bogotá is a 3 day adventure, the first day is an early morning departure to reach La Macarena by approximately 10.30am. Once checked into your hotel you make your first excursion along Río Guayabero to Caño Cristales.

The second day of your trip you spend the full day visiting whichever branch of the river that you did not visit on the previous day, the third day has an early start with more sightseeing before returning to the airport of La Macarena and taking the plane back to Villavicencio.

Our Caño Cristales plans are all inclusive tours. We do not unbundle services for travellers making their own flight and/or accommodation arrangements.

We also have 1 night, 3 night and 4 night packages to Caño Cristales. Contact us for our full schedule of plans and our informative FAQ about Caño Cristales tours.

Price:

The Colombian Way offers the most comprehensively inclusive Caño Cristales package available. Our competitive price shown on this page includes the following.

  • Return air transport from Villavicencio to La Macarena
  • 2 nights in a comfortable hotel in La Macarena village
  • 3 meals per day
  • River and land transfers from La Macarena village to Caño Cristales
  • Expert local guides with a thorough knowledge of the area.
  • Emergency medivac insurance.

Don’t hesitate to contact us, we are waiting to help you plan your trip to the world’s most beautiful and unique river. Use our contact form to begin planning your trip.

Amazonas

The Amazon is vast and along with Brazil and Perú, Colombia also has a large share of it. To unlock the secrets of the Amazon you really have to arrive by aeroplane.

There you will find a wealth of indigenous culture and a pristine wilderness, deep into the Amazon where Amazonian rules apply, a world which offers you many attractions, a world of its own.

Who has not dreamt of one day waking up somewhere deep in the Amazonian jungle? Awakened only by the chirps of tropical birds and the rustle of the wild rainforest?

The starting point of any trip to the Amazon is Leticia, the capital of the Amazonas department. From Leticia you travel by boat along the Amazon River to your chosen Amazonian destination. Before soon the playful pink dolphins are jumping in the boat’s wake. One final farewell to the modern world and thus your journey really begins, accompanied only by the buzz of the boat’s engines and some of the world’s most breath-taking scenery.

After arriving by aeroplane in Leticia, you can commence your journey immediately or spend a night in the town. Leticia is a typical jungle town and the conurbation is shared by Brazil’s Tabatinga. The town is the focal point of local trade and there is always a lively atmosphere. We recommend you consider spending a night there and take in the town’s ambience, fun bars, reasonably priced hotels and simple restaurants.

Our principal programme in Amazonas is at a Brazilian jungle lodge which offers traditional jungle accommodation in an immaculate and unspoiled section of the Amazon Rainforest.

There are various activities that you can choose for yourself such as boat excursions, nighttime caiman watching, long treks through the deep jungle, kayak routes over the river to Perú and jungle camping. Each one is accompanied by an experienced guide using the sun, the stars and local expertise to navigate.

Important

  • The yellow fever vaccination is mandatory. Please obtain a certificate prior to going.
  • You should seek your own physician’s advice as to whether to take malaria tablets or not.
  • The rains come hard and fast and storms can last for hours, you should keep a spare set of clothes in a waterproof bag.
  • A flashlight and batteries will certainly come in handy as the electricity supply in the jungle is limited.
  • Lodgings are in Brazilian territory, You may be required to pay for an entry visa, in most cases this does not need to be planned in advance. Costs vary depending on your nationality.

Programme

Our preferred jungle lodge is about 4 hours away from Leticia by boat

The jungle lodge embodies the essence of the deep jungle, they are vastly removed from your day to day life in Europe or North America.

You spend your entire stay at the lodge and you can decide your daily activities for yourself, the expert guides are ready and willing to fulfil all of your expectations.

The options include:

  • Nocturnal excursions to the jungle
  • A visit to the Indian village of Santa Rita in Perú
  • Hiking and camping in the deep jungle
  • An introduction to the world of indigenous communities and a discussion with a shamen
  • Dosel, a cable ascent to 46 metres, far above the jungle canopy.

The jungle lodge will not be a structured programme, it will be what you want to make it. Whatever you do, it will be a memory that you carry with you for the rest of your life.

You want to live the Amazon dream and unlock the secrets of the jungle? Start by using our contact form to tell us how you would like us to plan it


Comprehensive option or independent travel option?

We have two ways of knowing the Amazon to fit different budgets and travel styles. The comprehensive option includes such luxuries as airport pickup, immigration assistance and private transfers by boat or road to your destination. Once at the reserve you will be accommodated in private cabins.

Save big money by being responsible for your own transit most of the way and you will be collected by a guide in a village nearer to the jungle lodge. Accommodation for the independent travel option is in the enramada or maloka, traditional jungle style dorms.

Once at the lodge, those choosing the independent travel option are treated just like any other staying guest and will enjoy the services of the excellent guides and the delicious fresh food.

We will of course provide full instructions on how to get to your jungle lodge if you choose the independent travel option.

Price includes

The price stated on this page relates to the independent travel option & includes the following

  • Four days three nights in a jungle lodge
  • Dedicated guides
  • Accommodation, 3 meals per day and evening drinks
  • Unlimited activities as highlighted in the programme
  • Any applicable taxes, park access charges, emergency medical assistance and accommodation insurance fees
  • Fully comprehensive adventure travel and medical insurance from 00.00 the day you arrive until 23.59 the day you leave.

Prices for the comprehensive option including airport meet and greet, transfers to the lodge and private cabin accommodation depend on how many people are in your group and how many nights you want to spend at the lodge. If you prefer this option then please provide us the above information so that we can return a quote to you.

Price does not include

  • A COP$19,000 tourism fee (8.50€) is levied at Leticia Airport which must be paid by the visitor in cash.
  • The dosel/canopy activity is provided by a third party and must be paid locally
  • Flights to/from Leticia
  • Fluvial/overland transfers from Leticia/Tabatinga to the jungle reserve. Estimate 150€ per person return for this addition.