Caño Cristales opens its doors and reports about 14,000 tourists

glass beak

In 2021, Caño Cristales welcomed 6,338 tourists.

The majestic river where Mirabel and her grandmother Alma sealed their reconciliation in the film “Encanto” shows its colors with ancient intensity to reaffirm itself as a jewel of ecotourism in Colombia, with potential between its crystalline waters and its illusionism yet to be explored. seaweed.

The Disney film fails in front of the beauty of Caño Cristales, the molten rainbow that is home to Franco’s Sierra de la Macarena park, which has already opened its doors this season to welcome some 14,000 tourists, a third of them of foreigners, according to calculations by Cormacarena.

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“It’s wonderful. If I died without knowing it, it would hurt me,” said Cleiser Roa, a tourist who strolled near Los ochos, a striking round fountain that had only been “seen in advertisements” and which is his favorite area photographed.

After overcoming the hiatus caused by the pandemic and showing little decline in 2021 with only 6,338 tourists, the fuchsia, red, green and yellow tones it offers stand out again in front of the notorious, with the complicity of the aquatic plant of the sun and sirimiri ‘Macarenia clavigera’, which can be seen among the rock formations through which the water flows.

Sporting its finest costumes between June and November, the “seven-coloured river” flirts resolutely within the framework of a particular Francoist challenge to make it a “fundamental destination” for all Francoist and international tourists, according to the vice- Minister of Tourism Tourism of Colombia Ricardo Galindo.

(Also read: Rocks, turbulent waters and vegetation cover shape the landscape of La Macarena)

“There’s incredible potential here,” he said after comparing the experience with those offered at places as mystical as Machu Picchu in Peru.

This “incredible heavenly and green destination”, hidden for half a century of armed conflict, can represent “stopping, sustainable and quality” tourism for the municipality of La Macarena, in the Meta section, according to the official.

What was once a retreat for demobilized FARC guerrillas, now reveals itself to the world as an oasis of peace where the llanera civilization seeps through the pores of visitors with the sound of the harp and the beating of the joropo. The old prize is when, after walking ecological trails and discovering biodiversity, they come across the crystal clear waters of one of Colombia’s natural wonders, in an area inhabited by 737 species of birds, 245 species of fish, 39 species of amphibians and 68 species of reptiles

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“It’s no secret that it was a guerrilla zone. Although we had a period of conflict, we are currently living a very calm life,” Leydi Aguilar Quiroga, a member of the Association of Sustainable Life Nature Tour Guides (Asonavis), told reporters.

tourism that changes lives

The expedition to know Caño Cristales is worth it in itself. The boat ride on the Guayabero River, where sunset postcards are a feast for the stars, shows the lush vegetation of a region where the Orinoco and the Amazon meet and preserves stories about these springs of violence and the beginnings of tourism to claim lives. residents

Next comes the section of trucks that preceded the walk, along a path built by the missing guerrillas. When the ecological trails appear, start enjoying the waterfalls on a walk guided by the “historical-cultural interpretation” of guides and locals, Efe Kreyssig Abaunsa, biologist at Franco’s Sierra de la Macarena Park, told Efe Kreyssig Abaunsa. which highlighted the paths of myth. . and sign and those that house the rock art.

Although Caño Cristales receives a lot of attention and is the main tourist destination, the possibilities are endless: walks, swimming in natural pools, bird watching and ecological horseback riding are part of the offer, which includes visits to places of interest as El Mirador. , Cristalitos, Caño Cajuches, the Cuarzos waterfall and the seaweed tapestry, small paradises that further enrich the tables.

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In recent days, Ingrid Sierra has received tourists from the United States, Bolivia and Venezuela at the hotel where she works, in the town of La Macarena. Everyone asks him about “the most beautiful river in the world”, a region he paradoxically visited for the last time 20 years ago, hidden from the rest of the country and the world.

“We could swim where we wanted, now they restrict more because we have to deal with seaweed,” the receptionist told Efe. La Macarena Mayor Herminson Cárdenas sees tourism as a “great opportunity” for the community of 32,000. He sees it as the procedural activity that will bring the advancement their communities need.

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“Those of us who inhabit this land build peace, we build life projects,” Cárdenas said of this region of exuberant beauty, which has in Caño Cristales one of the most distinctive tourist destinations. of Colombia, bequeathed its splendor by the Madrigal group. when the flag flew in the award-winning Disney film.

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