Photo Essay: Vacation Homes of Pablo Escobar

Visitors to Guatape, the lakeside pueblo two hours east of Medellin, Colombia, will find there are two main ways to cruise around the lake by boat.

First, you can opt for a large, slow boat with a bar and upper deck for dancing as you motor along.  This is your typical party boat, and it’s very cheap to get on board, though you do have to pay for drinks thereafter.

The second, more exciting option, is to hire a small motorboat to cruise at high speeds around the lake, taking in the views, wind in your hair.  This option is much more expensive, but you can bring your own beer.

Walking around the lakeside area of town, you’ll get the same “lake tour” pitch and price from all the guides.  Approximately 80,000 pesos, or $44 for a one hour tour with a bunch of sites that you’ve never heard of….and Pablo Escobar’s farm.  Needless to say, Troy and I were chomping at the bit to see the former head of the Medellin cartel’s vacation home, but we wanted more time on the water.  Eventually, we negotiated with a guide for a 1.5-hour tour for 90,000 pesos, or $50.

Our little boat comfortably held four people, and we took off sporting colorful orange life jackets.  As it turned out, the emphasis of the tour seemed to land squarely on the vacation homes of Pablo Escobar, his family, and his main drug cartel rival.

This is the lakeside home Pablo Escobar bought for his mother.
This is the lakeside home Pablo Escobar bought for his mother.
View of El Penol from the lake.
View of El Penol from the lake.
The home atop this hill belonged to the head of the Cali Cartel, one of Pablo Escobar's archenemies. The billboard below advertises a new high-end real estate development being built there.
The home atop this hill belonged to the head of the Cali Cartel, one of Pablo Escobar's archenemies. The billboard below advertises a new high-end real estate development being built there.
This lakeside bar was on Pablo Escobar's property. He survived an assassination attempt by the Cali Cartel by escaping through an underground tunnel that exited a hundred plus meters away.
This lakeside bar was on Pablo Escobar's property. He survived an assassination attempt by the Cali Cartel by escaping through an underground tunnel that exited a hundred plus meters away.
Pablo Escobar's old lake home is now destroyed. We wanted to get off our small motorboat to walk around and take more photos, however the guide said it was private government property and we needed permission. Or, we needed to get there at 7am when nobody was around to see us!
Pablo Escobar's old lake home is now destroyed. We wanted to get off our small motorboat to walk around and take more photos, however the guide said it was private government property and we needed permission. Or, we needed to get there at 7am when nobody was around to see us!
The view from behind of Pablo Escobar's house on Lake Penol (right), and that of his bodyguards (left).
The view from behind of Pablo Escobar's house on Lake Penol (right), and that of his bodyguards (left).
Just left of center in the hillside, you can see the exit of the tunnel Escobar used to escape at least one attack.
Just left of center in the hillside, you can see the exit of the tunnel Escobar used to escape at least one attack.
This house belonged to one of Pablo Escobar's brothers, however as it is now government property, he can no longer make use of it.
This house belonged to one of Pablo Escobar's brothers, however as it is now government property, he can no longer make use of it.
In order to create the lake in El Penol and Guatape, and provide fresh water to Medellin, it was necessary to build a dam and submerge a town. The metal cross of a submerged church acts as a constant reminder.
In order to create the lake in El Penol and Guatape, and provide fresh water to Medellin, it was necessary to build a dam and submerge a town. The metal cross of a submerged church acts as a constant reminder.

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  3. Eloy Micthell says

    There is obviously a lot to know about his, I think you made some good points. Anyhow keep up the good work.

  4. Nancy says

    Amazing post! I love it! How were you able to get a tour and who do I have to contact in order to get a tour my self ! I have been dying to see and explore his properties !

    • says

      You can go to Guatape on your own and just walk along the lakeside until someone approaches you offering boat rides. Or you can book a tour to Guatape from Medellin, which would be more of an all-inclusive, but also more costly.

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