Ruined building among trees
Colombia,  Dark tourism,  Postcards from the road,  Ruins

A postcard from Colombia: Pablo Escobar’s former lakeside retreat

Ruined building among trees
Pablo Escobar’s former lakeside retreat

La Manuela

On the shores of the El Peñol-Guatapé Reservoir the infamous Colombian cocaine drug-lord Pablo Escobar built a lavish estate which he named La Manuela, after his daughter.

As well as the luxurious main house there was a pool, tennis courts, a football pitch which doubled as a helipad, stables, a guest house, a seaplane dock, and even a discotheque. But the house was also built for practicality, with double-layered walls used to hide stashes of cash and cocaine.

In 1993 La Manuela was bombed by a vigilante group called Las Pepes, allegedly funded by Escobar’s enemies including the rival Cali Cartel.  Police forces seized the drugs and money revealed by the explosion. Eight months later Escobar was shot and killed by the authorities in Medellín. His former retreat was left in ruins, to be taken over by nature.

In the past tour groups have been allowed to visit La Manuela but today it is only possible (officially at least) to see it from a boat out on the lake, as we did.


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