Many of the most colorful phenomenon in nature only appear for a brief moment in time when conditions are just right. The Aurora Borealis, the Tulip fields of Holland, and blood moons all require certain natural conditions to appear, and then only for a moment. This is also true of the Cano Cristales in Columbia.

If you were to view this jungle river at almost any given point during the year you might find yourself wondering why the river’s name translates to the “river of five colors”. However, for a few weeks as the wet season transitions to the dry season this body of water explodes into color.

The river is home to, Macarenia clavigera, a type of aquatic plant that only flourishes in this micro-climate. During the dry season the water level in the river is too low to provide enough nutrients to the plants. During the wet season the water level is too high to allow enough sunlight to reach the riverbed. In the few weeks in between the wet and dry season the conditions are just right and the aquatic plant turns the river into what locals call a “liquid rainbow”.

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