The World's Most Beautiful Rivers
Known as “the river that ran away from paradise,” the Caño Cristales in northern Colombia is often considered the most beautiful river in the world. Stunning, multi-hued algal streaks paint the riverbed in a kaleidoscopic palette of reds, yellows, blues, greens and blacks, while glassy waterfalls spill into neon-colored tide pools. The otherworldly rainbow effect emerges only during the height of summer when the heat helps resident algae colonies to grow and multiply, filling craters and eddies with intense bursts of color.
As beautiful as the Caño Cristales is, it’s only one in an array of beautiful rivers all around the world. We researched some of the world’s best, and along with travel sources such as Frommer’s and Fodor’s, came up with a list of ten rivers around that beg to be visited at least once in a lifetime.
The tiny, picturesque town of Futaleufú in Chile provides access to the river that bears its name, promising a waterway experience that rivals any in the world for its beauty and drama. Fed by a glacial runoff, the cold, clear blue waters of the river are a popular locale for heart-quickening tours by whitewater raft or kayak.
“It winds through lush forests and moody valleys from Argentina to Chile, providing all the beauty of the Andes and the Chilean and Argentine lakes districts of northern Patagonia,” says Kealy.
Cano Cristales River, Northern Colombia
A psychedelic swirl of improbability, the Caño Cristales is sometimes called “the world’s most beautiful river,” and with good reason: It is the host to a dizzying array of colors that result from pockets of algae that bloom during the height of summer. Aquamarines push up against eddies of red and fingers of yellow cut through pockets of bright green in this river in Northern Colombia. At less than 100 kilometers long, and rarely more than 20 meters wide, this compact slice of river offers a kaleidoscope of otherworldly experiences – but it is not easy to get to: you’ll need to fly from Villavicencio to Macarena, then take a boat and cut through unmarked trails in order to find this jungle jewel of a river.