Hacienda Napoles, Colombia

our iconic Napoles photo

Owkay, it’s a massive tourist trap and not really something you want to remember Medellin for, but it was kinda cool to visit Hacienda Napoles, Pablo Escobar’s estate just outside of Medellin. And we promised the boys a nice day out after being confined in the car for 2 days on a crazy & dangerous road trip from Bogota to Medellin.

We decided to take highway 60 to Medellin and on the map it looked like 1 of Colombia’s main highways…. but little did we know …. It started out ok but the road became more narrow after every village we passed until it was nothing more than a soft and sandy mountain pass full of holes, rocks, trunks and the likes. We passed mud slides, man holes, waterfalls in the middle of the road, muddy forest trails, sketchy little villages nothing more than a few “houses” and some chickens, proud & evil looking roosters, eye-balling you while you pass -I was not going to get out of the car at that moment!-, landslides, … and it took us forever. Nature is overwhelming, nothing like I’ve ever seen before. High green mountains with fertile valleys full of flowers, fruittrees and meadows entwined by creeks & rivers. But there is nothing else. Every 3-4 hours you drive through a small village that has only 1 road & a few houses and then again … nothing. The deeper we drove into the mountains with our hired Renault family sedan, the more nervous we became of continuing this not so well planned trip. What if we have a flat tire ? What if it starts to rain heavily and we get washed off the mountain by one of the many land slides we encountered ? What if the cars overheats ? Do we have enough water ?

There is no GPS or mobile signal so if something happens, well, you’re on your own, you’re in the jungle baby. In the meantime the boys get bored in the backseat and start their usual drama. So we start looking for a place to spend the night, and end up in some kind of holiday hotel, colombian style. It has a pool so Twan and Gus are all thumbs up. Jos mentions it makes him think of the Hi di Hi – Ho di Ho resort from that tv show, with soft muzak gliding out of speakers throughout the compound. However, the heavily armed military guys walking around are a pbit out of place, and we realise we’re actually in the middle of guerilla infested territory in these hills. We have dinner and a few beers and go to our room. After Gus somehow manages to rip the sink out of the bathroom wall and break it into a hundred pieces, we go to bed and drift off into a strange kind of sleep … In the morning we have breakfast next to the corpse of a snake with it head bashed in by one of the hotel staff, and we’re on our way again …

We’re completely exhausted but very happy when we finally drive out of the mountains, onto a ROAD, halleluja. We haven’t seen a paved road for 12 hours or more.

So after our little venture it was time for some easy entertainment and who better to provide than Pablo ! Not much is left from his estate but a theme park, the villa & crooks are gone but the hippos stayed. In fact, the imported african hippopotamus felt so good in Colombia, they started to wander around, escaped the premises and dove into the nearby Magdalena river where they reside still today and their numbers are growing … some have been found more than 100 miles downstream from Hacienda Napoles, all healthy and making hippo babies …

It was a fun day out, we now have our iconic “Napoles” photo and little reminds you of the violent days of the drug cartel. Let’s hope it stays that way !