About 180 km south-east of Medellin, is Puerto Triunfo, a small municipality and town in the department of Antioquia. It was here that Colombia’s notorious drug lord Pablo Escobar acquired a vast tract of land in 1978, and built a luxurious and sprawling estate, the kind that you would expect from the world’s richest drug dealer who ran the most successful cocaine cartel in history worth some $25 billion. Escobar named his home Hacienda Napoles which means “Naples Estate” in Spanish.
The Hacienda Napoles covers nearly 20 km of land and includes a private zoo, numerous artificial lakes, a cart racing track, a private airport, and even a bullring where he reportedly machine-gunned bulls, all constructed on a grand and luxurious scale. It is from Hacienda Napoles that Pablo Escobar carried out all his illegal and criminal activities such as shipping out large cartels of drugs, and planning the many massacres and crimes that shook the nation.
His private zoo was stocked with many kinds of animals such as giraffes, ostriches, elephants, hippopotamuses, ponies, antelope, and exotic birds, which he brought from different places. He built six life-size concrete dinosaurs and proudly showed off the single-engine private plane that had flown his first cocaine shipments. The ranch also had a large collection of old and luxurious cars and bikes. He himself lived in a Spanish colonial villa.
After Pablo Escobar was shot dead in 1993 by the Colombian police, his family tried to gain control of Hacienda Napoles but the Colombian government seized the property. Most of the animals were given away to other zoos as it was too expensive to maintain them. There are still a few bison, zebras, a rare goat, one ostrich and at least a few dozen hippopotamuses that roam through the estate. The hippo population has flourished since Escobar's death and increased in size to an estimated 50 or 60 from the original four that he bought from San Diego Zoo in 1981. Most live in the lake at the park but a few of them have escaped the enclosure and moved to the nearby river.
In 2008, the Colombian government handed the property over to a management company that turned it into a theme park called Parque Tematico Hacienda Napoles (Hacienda Napoles Theme Park). There is a museum in the middle of the park entirely dedicated to the drug lord. His classic car collection, which was destroyed by his rival when they bombed his Medellín home, is also there to see. The house, which was torn apart by locals in search of Pablo's hidden treasures after the news of his death reached them, has been left in pretty much the same state of disrepair.
Nearly 50,000 tourists is said to visit the place annually.
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