A Look Inside Pablo Escobar’s Famous Hacienda

Soldiers inspecting the sculptures on the grounds of the Hacienda Napoles.

Photo credit: Eric Vandeville / Gamma-Rapho / Getty Images

Hacienda Napoles was the vast ranch owned by the notorious drugs baron Pablo Escobar, located halfway between the city of Medellin and Bogota, the Colombian capital. With all the money he had amassed, Escobar built himself a zoo in the early 1980s. This was before he had started Colombia’s deadliest campaign of assassinations and bombings that almost tore the country apart.

At the height of his power and global control of narcotics, Pablo Escobar was estimated to be worth more than $30 billion.

With all his overflowing money, Escobar smuggled in hippos, rhinoceros, elephants, giraffes and other exotic animals. He even allowed the public to wander freely around his incredible zoo.

At the entrance, you will first see a Piper airplane identical to the one used to fly shipments of cocaine to the United States. The grounds were populated with statues of dinosaurs and other creatures.

When the Hacienda Napoles was confiscated by the government in the 1990s, Escobar’s menagerie was dispersed to zoos around the country. But not the hippos. For about two decades, they have wallowed in their soupy lake, watching the 20sq km park around them become neglected and overgrown – and then transformed back into a zoo and theme park, complete with water slides.

All the while, the hippos themselves thrived, and multiplied. Nobody knows how many there are. The local environmental authority, which bears responsibility for them, estimates between 50 and 60 hippos in the area.

In 2014, a “Jurassic Park”-style African theme park was operating on the grounds, which have been rented by a private company. “Parque Temático Hacienda Nápoles” comes complete with a water park, a guided safari attraction, aquariums, and a replica of the caves in Colombia’s Cueva de los Guácharos National Park.

The Escobar museum, his burned private car collection, and the abandoned “ruins” of his house are still publicly accessible, but are reported to have collapsed in February 2015.

Pablo Escobar at the height of his power. 1988.

Photo credit: Eric Vandeville / Gamma-Rapho / Getty Images

An aerial view of Hacienda Nápoles.

Photo credit: Eric Vandeville / Gamma-Rapho / Getty Images

The entrance to the hacienda is decorated with a replica of the Piper airplane, which transported Escobar’s first shipment of cocaine to the United States.

Photo credit: Eric Vandeville / Gamma-Rapho / Getty Images

A soldier inspects one of the paddocks at the hacienda’s zoo.

Photo credit: Eric Vandeville / Gamma-Rapho / Getty Images

A soldier observes a pair of captive rhinoceros at the hacienda.

Photo credit: Eric Vandeville / Gamma-Rapho / Getty Images

The elephants of the hacienda.

Photo credit: Eric Vandeville / Gamma-Rapho / Getty Images

Soldiers observe the hippo pond at the hacienda.

Photo credit: Eric Vandeville / Gamma-Rapho / Getty Images

A sign welcomes visitors to the hacienda’s zoo.

Photo credit: Eric Vandeville / Gamma-Rapho / Getty Images

Inside the hacienda.

Photo credit: Eric Vandeville / Gamma-Rapho / Getty Images

A portion of the hacienda grounds, with dinosaur sculptures visible in the distance.

Photo credit: Eric Vandeville / Gamma-Rapho / Getty Images

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