Famous (and not so famous) Cali Cartel locations that still exist
As a part time resident of Cali (Santiago de Cali, Colombia), I am often asked about locations from the famous Narcos tv series about the Cali Cartel. While lists are abundant for Pablo Escobar and the Medellin Cartel, not much is available for Cali. Most of Narcos is not actually filmed in Cali. But here is a list of places the cartel funded, made famous, and hung out at.
Hotel Intercontinental Cali — in the glory days of the organization, this was a popular place for events, parties, and many other night time activities. Much of the growth of the hotel and casino are due to the Cali Cartel. The hotel and casino are still very popular to this day.
Restaurante Don Carlo- Now known as Restaurante Bar San Carlo. This was a popular dinner spot for the organization. It would be shut down and made private when the group was there. This restaurant is right above the famous Calle Quinta and right down the street from the Hotel Intercontinental. It has maintained an impressive status in the city to this day.
Centro Financiero La Ermita — The downtown Cali financial headquarters for Pacho Herrera. The building lost its glamour after the departure of Pacho, however the building still has tenants and is looking for new tenants willing to remodel. This building is only a few minutes drive from the hotel and restaurant mentioned above.
The Rio Cali — This is a broad location as it cuts through the city. However in much of Narcos it is shown as an important visual. Bodies were claimed to have been shredded for fish food as they were disposed here. As recent as 2023 news reports stated that the river has cocaine waste toxicity high enough to kill dogs and cats if consumed.
Edificio Colinas de Santa Rita — The house where Miguel Rodriguez escaped from the DEA in Narcos. I walked by recently and the actual unit that Miguel hid in and evaded an arrest is for sale. The building has been renovated to enclose the balconies, but much still looks the same. This location is a short drive from the hotel, restaurant, and river that are mentioned above.
Antigua Mansión Jorge Isaacs — This location never actually came into fruition for the cartel, but Pacho Herrera bought this famous mansion before he was arrested. It is the largest private single home residence in Barrio Peñon (a famous area for laid back nightlife and the same barrio as the casino, restaurant, and river). Jorge Isaacs is a famous Euro- Colombian writer who had owned the mansion many years ago. The property was eventually taken by the city, as nobody had the interest to pump the money into the massive renovations after Pacho. It now is a parking lot below the fading mansion.
Most of the Cali portion of Narcos was filmed in Bogota. Production used drone footage of famous places around the city such as Plaza de Cayzedo, Monumento Cristo Rey, and Calle Quinta. Very little actual representation was shown of their actual hangout spots.
K. Mennem lives life between Colombia and Mexico, primarily shooting photography for Getty Images. He occasionally writes informative posts based on his adventures. firstname.lastname@example.org