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Caño Cristales

Disney used the colorful river of the Caño Cristales as the inspiration for the location of the source of magic, for the film Encanto.

Caño Cristales (Rainbow River)
Guayabero River, Meta, Colombia
GPS: 2.264167, -73.794444

The locations used for Disney’s Encanto, especially the enchanted village of Encanto was inspired by multiple locations in Colombia. Caño Cristales is one of those obscure, real places that features in the film.

Disney Encanto Film Poster

However, there is one, very specific, very magical place in Colombia that was the inspiration for a very pivotal location in the film.

When Abuela Alma Madrigal and Abuelo Pedro are running from the bad people, they cross a river. It was there that she lost Pedro but it was also there that she received ‘the miracle.’ A candle with mystical powers.

Disney Encanto - Cańo Cristales

Much later in the film, when Maribel runs away from the village, she ends up back at this same river.

Though our focus is on the heartfelt conversation between Maribel and Abuala, the river can be seen in the background.

We can see much more of the river this time, in the daylight, and it is full of color and beautiful.

Disney Encanto Rainbow River

The directors of this movie chose the Caño Cristales, or Rainbow River, for this location.

And they couldn’t have picked a more magical river as the origin for the magic in Encanto and it is often called, the most beautiful river on Earth.

Caño Cristales, which can be directly translated to Crystal Channel, is a Colombian river located in the Serrania de la Macarena province of Meta.

The river is commonly called the “River of Five Colors” or the “Liquid Rainbow,” and is noted for its striking colors.

The bed of the river from the end of July through November is variously colored yellow, green, blue, black, and especially red. 

Caño Cristales - Colored Plants on Riverbed
Caño Cristales – Colored Plants on Riverbed

The brilliant red  is caused by a very vibrant plant that grows on the riverbed. These plants grip tightly to rocks in places where the river has faster current.

What is also interesting about this river, though isn’t represented in the movie Encanto, is that Caño Cristales has many rapids and waterfalls. 

Caño Cristales - Giants Kettles
Caño Cristales – Giants Kettles

Small circular pits known as giant’s kettles can be found in many parts of the riverbed, which have been formed by pebbles or chunks of harder rocks. 

Once one of these harder rock fragments falls into one of the cavities, it is put on something similar to a spin cycle by the strong water current, and as it races along the cavity walls, it carves away, increasing the dimensions of the pit.

Disney chose the rainbow river as the location inspiration for the place that the magic of Encanto was born. An absolutely perfect choice.

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