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Colombian Odyssey

An epic journey through north and south Colombia

    • Price £ 3,775 I
    • Please contact us for flights from your nearest airport
    • Single sup. £ 595 I
    • Duration : 21 days
  • Book now

INTRO

This tour takes in the best of Colombia - a country of great diversity in landscape, people and culture. Discover Bogota's Gothic quarter and wander through rustic Villa De Leyva and the 'white city' of Popayan. Take in the colossal Salt Cathedral, the surreal Tatacoa desert, and stay on a coffee farm to learn the coffee making process. Cast your mind back to pre-Columbian times and admire the mysterious statues of San Agustin. Finally head north to the charming city of Cartagena and the idyllic Parque Tayrona situated on the shimmering waters of the Caribbean.

Read the Wanderlust or the Independent on Sunday article about this trip.

DATES

  • 19 Oct 2017 to 08 Nov 2017
  • 25 Jan 2018 to 14 Feb 2018
  • 12 Apr 2018 to 02 May 2018
  • 18 Oct 2018 to 07 Nov 2018

If these dates do not suit you but you are interested in this tour, please contact us for alternative dates.

HIGHLIGHTS

Wandering cosmopolitan Bogota

The colossal Salt Cathedral

Rustic beauty of Villa de Leyva

Stay at an authentic Coffee Farm

Colonial villages in the Coffee Triangle

The “White City” of Popayan

The mysterious statues of historic San Agustin

The stunning Tatacoa desert

Marvel at Cartagena’s beautiful architecture

Relax on the stunning beaches of Parque Tayrona

WHAT'S INCLUDED

International return flight (where indicated)
Airport pick-up & drop-off
All internal flights
Ground transport
Accommodation
Entrance fees to sites
Activity fees
Breakfasts and an occasional lunch/dinner (refer to itinerary for meal plan)
Drivers and guides

PLACES VISITED

Bogota - Salt Cathedral - Villa de Leyva - Manizales - The Coffee Triangle - Filandia and Salento - Armenia - Popayan - San Agustin - Tatacoa desert - Cartagena - Santa Marta - Tayrona National Park
Bogota
Salt Cathedral
Villa de Leyva
Manizales
The Coffee Triangle
Filandia and Salento
Armenia
Popayan
San Agustin
Tatacoa desert
Cartagena
Santa Marta
Tayrona National Park

ADD ONS

ACCOMMODATION

    Abadia Colonial Hotel
    The Abadia Colonial Hotel is in the historic Candelaria area of the city. The building maintains its colonial charm and beauty and its interior gardens are home to native trees. The twelve rooms (with safe, TV, bathroom, hairdryer, heating, direct telephone and free internet) are all set around two garden courtyards and the second floor dining room has great views of Monserrate. The hotel serves excellent meals, the staff are warm and attentive, the rooms are clean and comfortable.
    Website: www.abadiacolonial.com
    Address: Calle 11 No. 2 - 26 Barrio la Candelaria - Bogotá
    Phone: +57 13411884 / +57 1342 2672

    Hotel Bahia Olivo
    This is an elegantly decorated, traditionally designed old colonial house. This cosy boutique hotel captures the essence of old Villa de Leyva, a World Cultural Heritage site, with modern amenities. All rooms have cable TV, telephone, hot showers, hair dryer, comfortable beds with semi-orthopedic mattresses, crisp white linens and mp3 or mp4 players, in addition to a minibar.
    Website: www.hotelbahiaolivo.com/en_index.php
    Phone: +57 3143339798 / +57 3153168685

    Hacienda Venecia
    Hacienda Venecia is a coffee farm and produces green coffee that is sold worldwide. The Hacienda Venecia main house has well-equipped rooms as well as a dining room, kitchen, swimming pool with  sunbeds and hammocks, beautiful gardens, a bar and billiards all overlooking a beautiful Colombian landscape.
    Website: www.haciendavenecia.com/en
    Address: Vereda el Rosario, Manizales, Caldas, Colombia
    Phone: +57 3206365719

    La Finca Galicia
    La Finca Galicia is located in one of the most beautiful areas in the Quinidio department. It is a coffee farm. There are six rooms all with bathrooms. There is also a games room, kitchen and a pool with hammocks. It is surrounded by exotic and tropical flower plantations.
    Website: fincagalicia.blogspot.co.uk
    Phone: +57 67494231

    Hotel Dann Monasterio Popayan
    Previously a 1570 Franciscan monastery with Spanish colonial architecture, Hotel Dann Monasterio offers a trip to the past, staying in the heart of one of the historic cities of Colombia without giving up modern services. All rooms come fitted with a comfortable Queen size bed, an LCD TV, a safe deposit box, a bathroom with bathtub and a hairdryer, desk and telephone. Some of the rooms have a small balcony with views to the patio. Hotel facilities include a swimming pool, restaurant, American breakfast, Sauna with steambath and gym. 
    Website: www.hoteldannmonasteriopopayan.com
    Address: Cl. 4 #10-14, Popayán, Cauca, Colombia
    Phone: +57 2 824 2191

    Hacienda Anacaona
    Hacienda Anacaona’s rooms are spacious and decorated in Colombian style. All the rooms are very comfortable and have private bathrooms with hot water. From the balconies, there is a marvellous panorama of the green valley and Río Magdalena. There is a restaurant where authentic and typical Colombian food is served.
    Website: www.anacaona-colombia.com
    Phone: +57 3112317128

    GHL Hotel
    Located in the commercial district just north of Neiva, GHL Hotel offers comfortable and modern accommodation. All rooms come equipped with modern amenities including a minibar, air conditioning, a 42" LED TV, safe deposit box and Wi-Fi access. 
    Website: www.ghlhoteles.com/hotel/ghl-style-neiva/50
    Address: Carrera 16 # 42-195 / RNT 31143 - Neiva, Colombia
    Phone: +57 8 863 0763

    Monterrey Hotel Cartagena de Indias
    Following the architectural local traditions, the Hotel Monterrey was born of the restoration of an elegant republican building, work of the French architect Gastón Lelarge at the end of the 19th century. Featuring a rooftop terrace, the Monterrey Hotel Cartagena offers air conditioned rooms with cable / satellite channels and a flat-screen TV. This modern hotel is close to everything Cartagena De Indias has to offer.
    Guests of the hotel can enjoy a drink in the on-site bar, sample fusion and French cuisine in the restaurant or simply relax in the heated pool. The hotel also offers a safe, a lift and a 24 hour reception. There is a rooftop bar, a laundry service and laundry facilities, and Wi-Fi is available.
    Website: www.hotelmonterrey.com.co/es
    Address: Centro, Cra. 8B No. 25-103, frente al Paseo de los Martires y el Centro Histórico
    Phone: +57 56600006

    La Casa del Farol
    La Casa del Farol is located at the heart of the historic city of Santa Marta. The decor within the hotel is influenced by the city's colonial history, each room has taken its inspiration from a different city around the world - including Havana, New York and Beijing. The bedrooms are modern and spacious, providing access to free wifi, satellite television and air-conditioning. The hotel restaurant serves a fusion of Caribbean and Spanish food. Guests can also access the swimming pool and Jacuzzi on the hotel's roof terrace, where they can enjoy views of the iconic city cathedral against a beautiful mountainous backdrop. 
    Website: www.lacasadelfarol.com
    Address: Calle 18 # 3-115, Santa Marta, Magdalena, Colombia
    Phone: +57 54 231 572

ITINERARY

Day 1 : Bogota
Arrive into Bogota. Transfer to hotel. Overnight Bogota.

Day 2 : Bogota
Half day tour of Bogota. Afternoon free. Overnight Bogota.

Day 3 : Zipaquira - Villa de Lleva
Drive to Zipaquirá. Visit Salt Cathedral. Continue to Villa De Leyva. Overnight Villa De Leyva.

Day 4 : Villa de Leyva
Half day tour of Villa De Leyva. Afternoon free. Overnight in Villa De Leyva.

See all days >>

ITINERARY

Short | Detailed | PDF

Day 1 : Bogota

Arrive into Bogota. Transfer to hotel. Overnight Bogota.

Arrive into Bogota airport where you will be met by a Travel The Unknown representative and driven to your hotel. Evening free to relax.

Meal plan : n/a


Day 2 : Bogota

Half day tour of Bogota. Afternoon free. Overnight Bogota.

Half day tour of Bogota incl. Gold museum, historic Candelaria area and Monserrate. Afternoon free to explore/relax. Overnight in Bogota.

Meal plan : Breakfast & lunch


Nestled high in the Andes at 2620 m. (8646 ft), Bogota, or Santafé de Bogotá to give it its full title, is a city of contrasts. It's a city of high-rise buildings standing next to colonial churches, museums and artisan cafés. Its influences range from Spanish and English to the Indian. It is a city of wild traffic and calm oases reflecting a bygone era. 

La Candelaria is Bogota's old town, a historic neighbourhood in downtown Bogotá. The architecture of the old houses, churches and buildings has Spanish Colonial and Baroque styles and it houses several universities, libraries and museums. This vibrant district hosts the Botero museum, which showcases not only the works of Colombia's most famous painter but also paintings by Monet and Picasso from Botero's private collection. The district is also home to the largest and most impressive Gold museum in the world with an enormous assortment of pre-Hispanic gold work, the church of Monserrate with its stunning views over the city as well as many government buildings and an array of cafés and restaurants to suit every taste.


Day 3 : Zipaquira - Villa de Lleva

Drive to Zipaquirá. Visit Salt Cathedral. Continue to Villa De Leyva. Overnight Villa De Leyva.

Drive to Zipaquirá, explore the stunning Salt Cathedral and visit the small museum. Lunch in Zipaquirá followed by a short wander through the historic centre. After lunch drive to heritage site of Villa De Leyva. Relax and overnight in Villa De Leyva.

Meal plan : Breakfast & lunch


The Salt Cathedral of Zipaquirá is an underground Roman Catholic church built within the tunnels of a salt mine 200 meters underground in a Halite mountain. The name "Salt Cathedral" is mostly to attract tourists - while a functioning church that receives as many as 3,000 visitors on Sundays, it has no bishop and therefore no official status as a cathedral in Catholicism. The temple at the bottom has three sections, representing the birth, life, and death of Jesus. The icons, ornaments and architectural details are hand carved in the halite rock. Some marble sculptures are included. At the entrance of the church, there are 14 small chapels, representing the stations of the cross, which illustrate the events of Jesus' last journey. Each station has a cross and several kneeling platforms carved into the halite structure. The Salt Cathedral is considered one of the most notable achievements of Colombian architecture and has been denominated as a "Jewel of Modern Architecture". The cathedral represents for the Colombian people a valuable cultural, environmental and religious patrimony. The cathedral is part of a larger complex including "Parque de la Sal" (Salt Park), as well as a small museum of mining, mineralogy, geology and natural resources. 



Day 4 : Villa de Leyva

Half day tour of Villa De Leyva. Afternoon free. Overnight in Villa De Leyva.

Day around Villa De Leyva including half day walking tour of this beautiful village where time seems to have stood still. Afternoon free to go walking, horseriding or check out a 120m year old dinosaur fossil. Overnight in Villa De Leyva.

Meal plan : Breakfast


Declared a national monument in 1954, Villa De Leyva has been preserved in its entirety and virtually no modern architecture exists. The result is a colonial town par excellence - a place where the streets are still cobbled and the walls still whitewashed. Stroll through its unhurried streets where the locals will greet you with a welcoming smile. Swelled with visitors from Bogota on weekends, it is typically much quieter and more pleasant on weekdays.

Discovered in 1977 not far from Villa De Leyva, you can visit an incredible fossil of a Kronosaurus, the most complete Kronosaurus fossil in the world. The fossil of the 120m year old infant Kronosaurus measures about 7m (without the tail) and this incredible creature with his tail would have measured about 12m in length despite not having reached its teenage years. 



Day 5 : Manizales

Flight to Manizales. Transfer to farmhouse. Relax for the afternoon.

Breakfast, then drive to Bogota. Fly to Manizales. Transfer to traditional finca (farmhouse) with a couple of hours of daylight to enjoy the property and its beautiful surroundings. Overnight in the finca

Meal plan : Breakfast & dinner


Day 6 : The Coffee Triangle

Half day city tour of Manizales. Rest of the day free to explore/relax. Overnight in Finca.

Half day city tour of Manizales. Rest of the day free to explore/relax. Overnight in Finca. 

Meal plan : Breakfast, lunch & dinner


Colombia has a strong coffee industry which you will learn about during the trip to Manizales. Coffee originated in Ethiopia but has been grown in Colombia for 200 years. The country is the third largest coffee producer in the world after Brazil and Vietnam.



Day 7 : The Coffee Triangle

Visit Filandia, Salento, Valle De Cocora. Overnight in a comfortable farmhouse.

Breakfast, then drive to the quaint village of Filandia. Short stop for coffee and a snack, a wander and a traditional craftshop visit. Continue to Cocora. Have lunch, we recommmend the trout. Two hours to wander or horseride through the wax palm landscape around Cocora. Drive to picturesque Salento village for a wander. Drive to a traditional coffee farmhouse, relax. Overnight in finca (farmhouse).

Meal plan : Breakfast, lunch & dinner


Filandia and Salento are two small pretty colonial style villages set in stunning surroundings. Salento is the oldest village in the Quindio region with cobblestone streets and a wealth of restaurants, cafés and bars. Filandia is home to the beautiful María Inmaculada church and its streets are lined with colourful buildings with wooden balconies.

In a country full of beautiful landscapes, the Valle de Cocora still stands out. The valley stretches east of Salento into the lower reaches of Parque Nacional Natural Los Nevados, with a broad, green valley framed by sharp peaks. Everywhere you’ll see the famous wax palm, the largest palm in the world (up to 60 meters high) and Colombia’s national tree. Valle de Cocora is also home to a trout farm and the trout dishes are top quality. Local fauna includes mountain tapirs, spectacled bears, pumas, sloths, yellow-eared parrots, black-billed mountain-toucans, Andean condors and hummingbirds. It is a perfect area for hiking.





Day 8 : Armenia - Popayan

Morning free. Drive to Popayan. Overnight in Popayan.

Half day to relax (optional use of pool). Lunch at finca. Drive to Popayan. Evening to relax. Overnight in hotel in Popayan.

Meal plan : Breakfast & lunch


Day 9 : Popayan

Tour of Popayan. Afternoon free. Overnight in Popayan.

Short tour of Popayan (2-3 hours). Rest of day free to soak up the atmosphere and explore the culinary delights of this colonial town. Overnight in hotel in Popayan.

Meal plan : Breakfast


Popayan was founded in the year 1537 by Sebastian de Belalcazar. Because of its beautiful white colonial houses, it is known as the "White City". Popayan has played a major role in Colombia's history dating back to the early days of the Spanish conquest and into the twentieth century. A number of Colombian presidents were born in Popayan including, most recently, Guillermo Leon Valencia from 1962 to 1966. In 2005, Popayan became the first city to be designated a City of Gastronomy as part of the UNESCO Creative Cities initiative. The typical dishes of the city are a legacy of Spanish and indigenous cultural interaction, integrating special components of the region with fruits brought from Spain. ​Popayán is also widely known for the solemnity of Easter processions during which it commemorates the passion and death of Jesus Christ. Since the sixteenth century processions have passed through Popayán's historical downtown. During Easter week, Popayán is also home to the Festival de Música Religiosa (Festival of Religious Music), which began in the 1960s. Partially destroyed by an earthquake in 1983, Popayan’s administration had the foresight to take their time with its reconstruction. Two decades later there is almost no evidence of the damage on the stunningly uniform white streets. Rich with impressive churches and colonial architecture, it’s easy to spend hours wandering around this quiet and relaxed town where every street leads to another just as beautiful. 

Day 10 : San Agustin

Drive to San Agustin. Overnight San Agustin.

Take the bumpy road to the World Heritage site of San Agustin, one of the gems of Southern Colombia. On arrival take some time to unwind and enjoy the unique atmosphere. Overnight in comfortable lodge.

Meal plan : Breakfast


Day 11 : San Agustin

Visit Archaeological Park. Afternoon free to relax. Overnight in San Agustin.

Morning visit to the breath-taking Archaeological Park where you will discover stunning collection of statues dating from the 1st Century onwards. Very little is known about the mysterious culture that produced these statues - which has since vanished without trace. Afternoon free. There are options for hiking, rafting, horse-riding and hammock snoozing! Overnight in San Agustin. 

Meal plan : Breakfast


Ten hours south of Bogota lies the World Heritage site of San Agustin, a small town of 18,000 people with breathtaking scenery, great music and home to a key archeological area in South America. The pre-Incan civilization that lived here is shrouded in mystery, even their actual name is still unknown.

The archaeological park sprawls over an area of 500 square kilometres and is considered the largest of the pre- Columbian sites in South America, and brings together cultural influences from peoples of the Andes, Amazonia and the Caribbean groups. Though not much is known of the cultures that created the statues, dolmens and carvings, these relics tell a tale of their own. The lush landscape serves as a foil for statues representing mythical and real creatures, perhaps gods and actual men, as well as the Goddess of Motherhood. There are about 500 statues and tombs are scattered in groups over an area on both sides of the Rio Magdalena Gorge, and there are most likely many more undiscovered to date. Some speculate that huge Mayan-like pyramids and other structures remain buried throughout the area. Other than the amazing statues, you can see burial chambers and ritual edifices in the Parque Arqueologico and huge petroglyphs spread throughout the valley. As far as culture and society is concerned, archaeologists have determined a few things: The San Agustin people treated women as equals and sometimes superiors (they had female leaders), they had a strong grasp of advanced mathematics, they attempted complex surgeries and they were obsessed with the idea of life after death. People were ritualistically sacrificed, burned alive and sometimes buried alive under the influence of hallucinogens. 


Day 12 : San Agustin

Free day. Hiking, horse-riding and rafting available. Overnight in San Agustin.

Free day. Options are available to take a jeep tour, go hiking, horse-riding or rafting. Or simply relax. This is the place to do it. Overnight in comfortable lodge.

Meal plan : Breakfast


Day 13 : Tatacoa Desert

Drive to Tatacoa desert. Tour desert in open-top buggy. Overnight in Neiva.

Early start - drive to Neiva. Lunch and drop bags. Drive to Villavieja. Pick up vehicle and driver for Tatacoa desert. Drive through this stunning semi-arid desert. Stop in pool for a while. Take a dusk walk around the lunar landscapes of El Cuzco. Drive back to Neiva. Overnight in Neiva.

Meal plan : Breakfast


The Tatacoa Desert, the second largest arid zone in Colombia after the Guajira Peninsula, is one of the most attractive landscapes in Colombia. It occupies 330 square kilometres with two distinctive coluors: ochre in the area of Cuzco and gray in the Los Hoyos area. The Tatacoa or "the Valley of Sorrows", as it was called in 1538 the conquistador Gonzalo Jiménez de Quesada, due to traces of deterioration he noted in its soil. It is not actually a desert, but a tropical dry forest. The Tatacoa Desert was once a garden with thousands of flowers and trees which has gradually been drying out over millions of years.

The plants in this area are adapted to climatic conditions through the development of horizontal roots up to 30 metres and vertical roots of 15 metres that facilitate access to water. Cactuses reaching between four and five meters high are common. Animals found in the Tatacoa Desert include turtles, rodents, snakes, spiders, scorpions, eagles, alligators and wildcats, many of whom hide throughout the day. Tatacoa is also an ideal spot for observing the skies and perfect for viewing the 88 recognised constellations and for viewing meteor showers. 





Day 14 : Tatacoa Desert - Bogota - Cartagena

Transfer to the airport to catch a flight to Cartagena, via Bogota. Transfer to hotel. Overnight in Cartagena.

Transfer to the airport to catch a flight to Cartagena, via Bogota. Transfer to hotel. Overnight in Cartagena.

Meal plan : Breakfast


Day 15 : La Popa - Castilla San Felipe

Take a half day tour of the old city, La Popa and Castilla San Felipe. Afternoon free. Overnight in Cartagena.

Take a half day tour of Cartagena, exploring the Old City, including La Popa and Castilla San Felipe. Your guide will explain the history of the fortress walls and the many monuments, plazas, and buildings within them. Afternoon free. Overnight in Cartagena.

Meal plan : Breakfast


Meander through Cartagena’s picture-perfect streets, and admire the city that is famous for both its beauty and its history. Founded in 1533, Cartagena became the main port on the Caribbean coast during Spanish rule. Treasure was stored in the city until it could be taken to Spain and for this reason, in the 16th century, Cartagena suffered five sieges including one led by Francis Drake in 1586. This is why the Spaniards then built the forts (Fuertes) and walls (Las Murallas) that still encompass the old town. The Puerta Del Reloj (Clock Gate) signifies the entrance to the inner part of the walled city, also called Calamari. Just behind this is the Plaza de los Coches which used to serve as a slave market. The Plaza de la Aduana and Plaza de Bolivar also have fascinating historical context as well as the numerous churches, museums, convents and monuments. 

 



The Convento de La Popa sits on the tallest hill in Cartagena. It boasts the best views of the city as well as having the most beautiful cloisters in the country. Legend has it that the convent was founded by the Augustinian monk, Alonso Paredes, who was fasting in the desert when he had a vision in which the Virgin Mary demanded that he build a monastery on the tallest point in Cartagena. When he went to carry out the demands, he found that a pagan sect had already built a shrine on the same spot so he threw their idol from the top of La Popa and replaced it with a statue of the Virgin de la Candelaria which still stands there today.

Castilla San Felipe de Barajas is a fortress located on the Hill of San Lázaro built by the Spanish. It was built there because of its strategic location dominated access to the city by land or sea. The fortress has been expanded over the years and was named in honour of King Philip IV of Spain. It has been attacked many times throughout history by French, British and Spanish forces. The blocks used to build the castle are said to be splattered with the blood of slaves as Cartagena was a major port during the Slave Trade. It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site along with the rest of the city of Cartagena.

Day 16 : Cartagena

Free day to spend as you wish. Overnight in Cartagena.

Free day to spend exploring Cartagena as you wish. Overnight in Cartagena. 

Meal plan : Breakfast


Day 17 : Santa Marta

Morning to relax in Cartagena. Transfer to Santa Marta. Overnight in Santa Marta.

Morning to relax in Cartagena. Transfer to Santa Marta. Overnight in Santa Marta.

Meal plan : Breakfast


Day 18 : Tayrona

Day to enjoy Tayrona National Park. Overnight in Santa Marta.

After breakfast transfer to Tayrona. Day to spend at your leisure, relax on the beach or swim in the sea. There is also the opportunity to trek through the jungle to look for the wide variety of wildlife living in the park and explore the indigenous Tayrona ruins of Chairma. Return to Santa Marta for overnight.

Optional upgrade to spend overnight in Tayrona available. Please ask us.

Meal plan : Breakfast


Parque Nacional Tayrona is one of Colombia’s most popular national parks. It is on the jungle-covered coast east of Santa Marta. Tayrona was once inhabited by the Tayrona indigenous people before they were forced out. The only remnants of their civilisation are the ruins of the town Chairama (Pueblito) which is pre-Hispanic and is thought to have been the central settlement for the Tayrona people. The coast in Arrecifes is spectacular and is dotted with massive boulders. A 40 minute walk on from here is the beautiful cape, Cabo San Juan de la Guia

Day 19 : Santa Marta

Free day to spend as you wish. Overnight in Santa Marta.

Free day. Overnight in Santa Marta.

Meal plan : Breakfast


Positioned between the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta mountains and the Caribbean Sea, Santa Marta’s history, colonial architecture and beaches make it one of the most popular tourist towns for Colombians. Santa Marta is the oldest remaining city in Colombia, founded in 1525 by Rodrigo de Bastidas in order to exploit the gold treasures of the Tayronas. By 1600, the Tayrona tribe had been wiped out and the gold had all been taken. La Casa de la Aduana is the museum dedicated to the Tayrona’s history. Simon Bolivar, who played a key role in Latin America’s fight for independence, died in Santa Marta in December 1830. His house Quinta de San Pedro Alejandrino is now a museum.



Day 20 : Bogota

Transfer to Bogotá. Transfer to hotel. Overnight in Bogotá.

Transfer to the airport for flight to Bogotá. Transfer to hotel. Overnight in Bogotá.

Meal plan : Breakfast


Day 21 : Departure

Transfer to the airport for onward flight.

Transfer to the airport for onward flight.

Meal plan : Breakfast


ENQUIRIES






















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020 7183 6371
POST
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1 Putney Bridge Approach
London SW6 3BQ
EMAIL
info@traveltheunknown.com
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