After three years of being closed to the public, primarily for security reasons, Colombia’s famed Caño Cristales river reopened to visitors on Monday.
Caño Cristales, which many proud Colombians consider to be one of the most beautiful natural water phenomenons on earth, is located in the southern department of Meta, reported newspaper El Espectador on Monday.
The river has long been hailed as a national wonder due to the extraordinary array of colours created in the water by the presence of vibrant algae (Macarenia clavigera)and the reflection of sunlight upon it.
The river has been closed to the public for the last three years because of FARC guerrilla activity in the region and because the few who managed to visit the site were in danger of turning it into something of a ruined backyard.
The Caño Cristales site, located about two hours walk from the town of La Macarena, will be open to visitors until November 10, when the summer season dries out the algae and the river loses it magnificent colours.
So far, some 1,000 people have visited Caño Cristales, including around 100 foreign tourists.
According to new regulations visits to the site are made up of groups of up to 20 people, taken throughout the day by four guides. The tours will follow four clearly marked and authorized paths and one is no longer permitted to stay overnight or cook, as this was ruining the area previously.
The mayor of La Macarena, Eliecer Vargas, said the city wants to “shake off” the bad press that has long characterized it. Therefore it aims to become a tourism training location for locals. According to Vargas, there are some 24 sites around the region that the authorities would like to popularize with visitors and promote among Colombia’s touristic attractions.