Charles larks about on river bank


Published: Friday 31st October 2014 by The News Editor

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The Prince of Wales was almost heir today and gone tomorrow when he larked about on the edge of a steep river bank in Colombia.

Charles jokingly waved his arms in the air as if saving himself from falling in when he visited one of the world’s most stunning natural phenomena – a river that runs red.

He flew by helicopter in to former guerrilla-held territory to see Cano Cristales – known as the liquid rainbow – a river that appears to change colour.

The Prince experienced the impressive sight caused by algae on the riverbed changing hue at different times of the year, from green and yellow to blue and black and famously red.

Earlier Charles spoke movingly about the loss of his great-uncle Lord Mountbatten, when he visited Bogota’s Centre for Peace, Memory and Reconciliation which commemorates those killed and displaced during five decades of violence in the fight against guerillas and drug cartels.

In a speech about how he had “experienced the intense despair caused by the consequences of violence” and stress: “Many of you will probably not know that my own much-loved great-uncle, Lord Mountbatten, and members of his family … were murdered in Northern Ireland, just over 30 years ago.

“So I feel I do understand something of the bewildering and soul-destroying anguish that so many of you have had to endure.”

The crystal clear waters of Cano Cristales are likely to become a major tourist attraction now the area – once in the hands of Farc (Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia) guerrillas – is firmly in the hands of the government.

Julia Miranda, director of Colombia’s national park, hosted Charles’ visit to the national wonder and said after the royal had left: “It was marvellous.

“The red colour of the waters was very intense.

“He was really happy to be here and he asked many questions and seemed really interested in the geography of the area.”

Charles was also joined during his visit by Colombia’s President Juan Manuel Santos Calderon who has been instrumental in helping to preserve Colombia’s Amazon region.

He joked of Charles’ entourage that the picturesque spot was known as the FARC country club where a guerrilla general would bring his partner and they would swim in the waters.

The President and the Prince walked along the rocky riverbank and looked down at the miniature waterfall and also the swirling whirlpool that have been cut out of the rocks by the water.

Earlier the Prince had flown to the huge Chiribiquete National Park that encompasses the Amazon rainforest where it crosses into Colombia.

Chiribiquete National Park is considered to be one of the world’s outstanding wildlife regions and is home to varied and unique cultural heritage, ecology and biodiversity.

Charles’ helicopter landed on one of a number of table top mountains known as Tepui – which translates as house of the gods – and he explored briefly before heading to Cano Cristales.

The national park will benefit from the Colombian president’s Amazon 2020 vision – which aims to achieve zero deforestation of the rainforest by the start of the next decade – and in 2013 he more than doubled its size to 2.8 million hectares, an area the size of Belgium.

Cano Cristales, south of the capital Bogota, is close to the town of La Macarena and its residents and other groups are attempting to develop a sustainable tourism programme so local people benefit from foreign visitors and the environment is protected.

Before leaving the region Charles visited the quiet settlement and toured a local church built by guerrilla fighters which has a mural painted above the altar showing Jesus with his 12 deciples who are depicted as Colombian peasants.

The prince chatted to members of the local community who told him about life in La Macarena during the years of conflict and how things are now.

Published: Friday 31st October 2014 by The News Editor

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