APR 01, 2017 8:57 AM PDT

The World's Only Rainbow River


Deep into the swaths of Colombia's hidden rain forests in the province of Meta near to the Serrania de la Macarena there is a tributary of the Guayabero River called the "Liquid Rainbow." While it isn't made from rainbows exactly, for a very short season the river with the majestic name of Caño Cristales flows with all the colors of the rainbow.

Carved from prehistoric black rocks with bright yellow sands in its riverbed, green mosses thrive in the river system, contrasting with the bright blue (crystal, for its namesake) waters that are so clear because of their lack of nutrients. But the color that appears for a short period of time and really draws the rainbow together is the indigenous red algae, Macarenia clavigera (Podostemaceae), that covers the bottom of the river from the end of July through November. These colors together create a riverscape that is unique to the world.

The Serranía de la Macarena, where the river is located, is on the border of three large ecosystems: the Andes, the Eastern Llanos, and the Amazon rain forest. While these ecosystems all boast a vast biodiversity, in the river itself plant and animal life struggle with the lack of nutrients and have therefore developed diverse adaptations, which you can see if you're ever lucky enough to visit "the most beautiful river in the world"!
About the Author
  • Kathryn is a curious world-traveller interested in the intersection between nature, culture, history, and people. She has worked for environmental education non-profits and is a Spanish/English interpreter.
You May Also Like
DEC 23, 2019
Plants & Animals
DEC 23, 2019
Brave Ant Explorers Engage a Termite Colony
Ants and termites have known their place as bitter rivals in the animal kingdom for more than 150 million years. Even today, as populations peak at some of...
JAN 06, 2020
Space & Astronomy
JAN 06, 2020
How Much Do You Know About Mars?
Humankind is getting closer to the ultimate goal of sending humans to Mars for scientific research, and then eventually colonization later down the line. B...
JAN 21, 2020
Plants & Animals
JAN 21, 2020
After Hibernation, These Grizzlies Turn to Clams for Nourishment
Grizzly bears spend up to seven Wintery months hibernating, and in that time, they can lose a substantial amount of their body weight. While surrounding ma...
JAN 26, 2020
Plants & Animals
JAN 26, 2020
The Life of an Arctic Squirrel
There is no overstating the fact that the Arctic Tundra is a cold and unforgiving place. There are few plants or animals that can survive in this extremely...
FEB 13, 2020
Chemistry & Physics
FEB 13, 2020
What is Antimatter, the "Most Expensive" Substance on Earth?
Scientists have long theorized that our world shouldn't have existed, because the equal amount of matter and antimatter created during the toddlerhood...
FEB 20, 2020
Chemistry & Physics
FEB 20, 2020
Methane-fueled Commerical Production of Biodegradable Plastics in Sight
Plastics, the petroleum-based, very poorly degradable polymers, make up almost everything in our society from water bottles, food packing, disposable utens...
Loading Comments...