Saturday, May 4, 2013

Caño Cristales, Colombia

Dubbed by many "The Most Beautiful River in the World", this waterway's stunning appearance arrives for a brief moment every year between the rainy and dry seasons. The bright colors seen are the various tints of aqueous plant life and algae in the water. They are produced when they receive the perfect combination of water level and sunlight.

Located in the jungles near the Colombian city of Macarena, the riverbed of this natural wonder is covered in numerous layers of moss, coral, aqueous plants, and Macarenia Clavigera, a rare endemic plant native to this geographical location. It is of red color, hence the overwhelming shade seen in the abundance of pictures of Colombia's Caño Cristales.

For all of the rock lovers out there, let's talk petrology! The rocks of the riverbed and surrounding area are approximately 1.2 billion years old, and are thought to be an extension of the Guiana Shield in Northeast South America. The water is both sediment and mineral rich, and allows for a wide variety of aqueous plant life. The course of the river over time has also formed a number of deep water pits, referred to as "Giant's Kettles".

Although red is the dominant color seen in the river, the various forms of plant life and coral form a wide spectrum of colors, giving the river an additional nickname, "the river of seven colors".

Today, the river is a popular tourist attraction, but it had been closed for several years due to guerrilla activities in this Colombian region. However, it has since reopened and remains a protected international treasure today.

Image Credit: Discover the Trip


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