July 6 – July 10, 2019
Day 270 – 274
I have seen many post online and on travel book about Cabo Cristales: a beautiful river that change its color between June to September due to algua. Apparently, it is a unique experience in a lifetime. The river take différents coloris such as red, green, purple.
But unfortunately everybody going there are just tourists: booking tours from agency and going there by planes. Absolutely not my thing. Not the backpacker way. Not the adventurer way.
So it is very hard (actually, I didn’t find anything relevant) to have accurate information about how to travel there differently.
But I still wanted to see this place. So information or not, I decided to go there on my own way, and figure out over there what will happen.
With two people I met on Couchsurfing, and that also want to go there, we decide to head there. We met on the road with Aurora and Evy.
First, getting there. Caño Cristales Ia located next to a village called La Macarena. There is only one road going there. It is a looooooong ride, but definitely hitchhikable. From the closest big town which is still on the highway (Florencia) It is 300km, but it is gonna take me more than 18 hours.
This area used to be held by guerillas groups (like FARC), but nowadays it is a very safe area, even when you hitchhike. There are no more guerillas problem and the military is actually everywhere.
I am lucky enough to find Andrés, a truck driver that takes me for more than 14 hours on the way to La Macarena. And he accepted to take my two other friends as well.
Andrés lives there and he knows everything that needs to be known about this place. He will be a great help in order to find what to do there.
I will spend 4 days in La Macarena at the end. And it was very different from what I expected.
The village itself is very nice and cute. The locals are very friendly and helpful.
We gonna end up seeing Andres more times. We even organized a crepe party at his place (being a good french).
But the organization dealing with Caño Cristales is very bureaucratic. From me who wanted to do it the adventurer way, well, I figured out it was not possible.
You are not allowed to enter the parc and go to Caño Cristales without a guide. If you want to go there,
you take a tour. But especially, the organization take a lot of taxes.
To go to Caño Cristales one day would cost approximately 330.000 (~90€), and 220.000(~60€) are just taxes. After 3 days bargaining and using Andres contact, the cheapest I could get was 290.000.
At the end, it is for the goodness of the park, and to take care of it. But it seems way too much. Especially that this year (2019), they added a new “peace tax” of 60.000 (~17€) to the other ones. And obviously, it is not shown on internet or anywhere…
Anyway, after many times of thinking about what I should do, I decided not to go. For financial reason obviously (90€ is for me 2 or 3 weeks of travelling), but also because I don’t endorse with the way they deal. It is beautiful, but it is just river. I am from those who think you shouldn’t pay to access nature.
And by going there, I would encourage them to continue. So I decided not to go. There are other beautiful places in this world and I am not going to lack of it.
I still go to Cano Piedra, the only activity you can do outside the national park. It is like a rive with small places to swim, where locals like to go with their family.
I still had a very good time, especially with Andres and his family.
And, more important, I did dance the Macarena in the city of La Macarena. Worth it :p
With his contacts (truck drivers), Andres find rides for my two friends to go back to where they want. For me, I go back hitchhiking by myself to go to my next stop: Tierradentro.