This beautiful area is dominated by clear-water lakes and snow-capped and active volcanoes, which frame this week-long tour. We cycle through a network of national parks, with stops in rolling meadows and picturesque villages.
Likewise, touring on a gravel bike has never been more accessible; we’ve got gravel e-bikes for those who want a gentler ride through the Andes mountains. Need more? Occasionally, we’ll stop to soothe our bones in natural hot springs — Chile’s lake region always provides.
Undoubtedly, this is a circular gravel bike route that keeps on giving.
Gravel touring has never been so adventurous and simultaneously cosy. Nights are spent in mountain lodges, while our experienced guides and support staff make sure the logistics run smoothly. Obviously, the exquisite Chilean food, wine, and beers help, too.
But the activity levels and adventure remain on this gravel bike trip. We’ll visit Chile’s first Geopark, Kütralkura, and pedal past Lake Colico, Pucón, and Villarrica volcano.
We even fit in a day hike so that you can get closer to nature. Indeed, there’s also the chance to meet local Mapuche people and learn about their culture.
So, clip in and get ready for the best gravel bike tour in Chile, if not South America.
Gravel bike or e-bike through Chile’s Lake District and volcanoes
Just bring yourself — top-quality gravel bikes or e-bikes included
Gravel touring through Chile's first Geopark, Kütralkura
Pedal your gravel bike past Lake Colico, Pucón, and Villarrica volcano
Meet Mapuche people and learn about their culture
Cosy mountains lodges for relaxing every night
Hot springs to soothe any tight cycling muscles
The best gravel bike tour washed down with Chilean cuisine, wines, and local microbrewery beers
Our trip was fantastic. Many thanks for all your work in setting up the trip and ironing out the creases when they appeared.
As our friends did for us/you, I would not hesitate in recommending Andean Trails to anyone else planning a trip to Chile. Thank you.
A. MacArthur, Chile
Your guide and support staff will meet you at the rendezvous in Temuco for introductions and a quick kit check before starting our gravel bike trips. From here, we pile into the transfer van to begin our adventure.
It’s a picturesque, two-hour drive from Temuco to the quaint village of Curacautín, part of the UNESCO Biosphere Reserve “Araucarias”. Here we’ll stop for a bite to eat while we assemble and fit the bikes.
Today is a 16 miles / 25 km warm-up ride with frequent and gorgeous views towards Lonquimay Volcano. Firstly, we head towards the old train station at Manzanar to pick up an old railway track that now serves as a bike trail. There are some fun tunnels on the way to our mountain lodge.
We’ll spend the first two nights at the iconic Suizandina mountain lodge.
Biking: 16 miles / 25 km, a mix of asphalt and gravel bike lane
Time in van: 2 hours
Cycling: 2-3 hours
The distances are a little longer on our first gravel touring day, with a 48-mile / 78 km loop around the area.
Our first nine miles / 14 km are on paved roads as we leave Malalcahuello village behind us. Our destination is Malalcahuello National Reserve, where we pedal a mix of dirt and gravel roads. The incentive is the Navidad crater lookout point.
Undoubtedly, things get a little tougher with our ascent of an old mountain road called “Cuesta Las Raices.” It’s all gravel from here to the town of Lonquimay on a route surrounded by monkey-puzzle trees and with amazing views of Lonquimay volcano. Significantly, we are in the heart of the Pewenche, one of Chile’s first nations.
Kütralkura (firestone) comes from the Mapuche language, Mapudungun. Kütral means fire, and kura means stone. The Geopark has an area of 8,100 km2.
We celebrate arriving at the village with a trip to the local brewery. Next is a bike path that takes us through the longest tunnel in Chile, Las Raices Tunnel, eventually returning to our hotel for a celebratory dinner.
Biking: 48 miles / 78 km, a mix of asphalt and gravel bike lane
Time in van: 20 minutes
Cycling: 4-6 hours
Firstly, it’s a short half-hour drive from Malalcahuello to Curacautín to the start of today’s ride. Without doubt, we think the Conguillio National Park crossing will be one of your gravel cycling holiday favourites.
The scenery in Conguillio inspired the BBC documentary series Walking with Dinosaurs, and it’s easy to see why as we pedal first on asphalt and then onto dirt and gravel. There are four beautiful volcanic lakes to pass (Captrén, Conguillío, Arcoiris, and Verde) on our 19-mile / 30 km off-road adventure.
There’s no loop today as we head to new accommodation. La Baita is Chile’s first ecolodge, which has won many awards for its sustainability ethos. For that reason, we’re sure you’ll enjoy the food and hospitality.
Biking: 32 miles / 52 km, a mix of asphalt and gravel/dirt roads
Time in van: 30 minutes
Unfortunately, there’s no touring on a gravel bike today — but we head for an adventure on foot instead. Our van takes us on a 30-minute ride to the trail start, passing by the jaw-droppingly beautiful lakes of Verde (green) and Arco Iris (rainbow).
We walk the Sierra Nevada trail today, surrounded by wonderful native trees like the monkey-puzzle trees and araucarias. Keep an eye out for endemic birds like the chucao tapaculo, the noisy slender-billed parakeet, and the Magellan woodpecker.
The trail has three viewpoints — we’ll visit all of them — because each offers different angles to drink in views of Conguillío Lake, Llaima and the Sierra Nevada volcanoes. Lunch is taken up in these rarefied airs before we hike back to the trail start and visit Playa Linda or the pretty beach. Finally, our van gives us a lift back to the lodge for a hearty dinner.
Hiking: 8 miles / 14 km
Time in van: 40 minutes
Hiking: 4-6 hours
Grab your helmet and get ready for a special day of gravel touring in the saddle. Waving goodbye to our ecolodge, we exit Conguillio National Park and visit Truful Truful canyon, one of the highlights of the Geopark.
From Truful Truful, we drop onto the asphalt, the surface we’ll be riding on for most of the day. Old-fashioned towns like Melipeuco and Cuncodot our ride, giving us a glimpse of a yesteryear that is very much present.
Our final pull is to Lake Colico and a private ranch known for raising polo horses. Since this lake-front ranch is a beautiful spot in the Chile lake district, we’ll enjoy it as the perfect for our evening meal.
Biking: 47 miles / 75 km, a mix of asphalt (80%) and gravel roads
Time in van: No driving
Cycling: 5-6 hours
Today is a hilly, dusty, and hard day, but like all gravel bike travel, well worth the effort. We continue along Chile’s Ruta Escénica Lagos & Volcanes, or the scenic lakes and volcanoes route.
Firstly, at the ranch, we hop directly onto the bikes for a gravel and asphalt ride to Pedregoso village on the west shore of Lake Villarrica. It’s the ideal lunch spot, so that’s what we do.
Digesting, we cycle through some urban parts of Villarrica (population 50,000 approx.), looking for the road that follows Ruka Pillán volcano’s slopes. Ruka Pillán is the most active volcano in Chile, which is quite the title, except its name translates as ‘the demon’s house’ in the local Mapuche language.
Next, we direct our steeds to the Villarica National Park and head to the volcano’s base to a fantastic lookout point. Finally, we ride back to Pucón, where there is some free time to explore, shop, or dine.
Biking: 50 miles / 80 km, a mix of asphalt (70%) and gravel roads
Time in van: 20 minutes
We’ve kept a memorable loop ride for the last one. Jump on your bike at the Pucón hotel, and we’ll pedal towards Catripulli, a small Mapuche village located near the border with Argentina.
Our companion is the river Trancura which offers lovely views of the Villarrica, Quetrupillan, and Lanin volcanoes. A mix of gravel and asphalt roads leads us to the pristine waters of Caburbua Lake, a top spot for lunch.
We pick up another river after eating; this time, it’s the Liucura river. Eventually, the waters (and roads) lead us to Quelhue, a Mapuche reservation in Pucón. This unique spot allows us to have dinner with a Mapuche Family and learn about their connection to the lands we’ve explored. It’s a fitting way to end our gravel bike tour in Chile.
Biking: 48 miles / 76 km, a mix of asphalt (50%) and gravel roads
Time in van: 30 minutes after the ride
Depending on your flight schedule, there may be time to explore Pucón to buy some souvenirs; the woollens are popular.
With the touring on a gravel bike over, our transport team will take you to Temuco airport in time for your flight home (80-90 minute drive).
Prices From $3,780 / £3,205 per person
Enquire about booking
Professional tour guide (5:1 guest-to-guide ratio), private transport with trailer and bike rack, accommodation/meals/transfers as listed, gravel bike (see details for more), hiking and Mapuche visit, drinking water, isotonic drinks, trail mix, fresh fruit and home-made energy bars on the route, gravel bicycle, helmets, pedals and water bottles, basic bicycle parts (cable housing, spare tubes and tires), entrance fees to hot springs and national parks.
International and domestic flights, travel and trip cancellation insurance, other bicycle parts and components (derailleur, crankset, fork, etc.), extra beverages & cocktails, spa and laundry services, upgrade to e-bike, tips (average is $120 per person).
We use cosy mountain lodges throughout the gravel bike tour, so you can wake refreshed each morning. However, accommodation listed below is all subject to availability.
Suizaandina Lodge (two nights)
The iconic Suizandina Lodge is a Swiss-inspired lodge in Malalcahuello. The wooden-clad buildings house rooms with a nod to the skiing fraternity. Rooms house four to six people and count with a private bathroom, plus there is WiFi.
Baita Ecolodge (two nights)
La Baita features hot tubs, views of Llaima volcano, WiFi, and a choice of twin/double rooms with private bathrooms. This cosy lodge has a beautiful fire in the communal living room.
Casa Santa Amalia (one night)
Santa Amalia is a family-run ranch with superb views of volcanoes and lakes. Standard rooms have private bathrooms.
Casa Solaria (two nights)
Hotel Casa Solaria is a stone’s throw away from Lago Villarica. Its superior rooms offer elegance, private bathrooms, and WiFi. The hotel features open-air terraces and a buffet breakfast.
All our guides are qualified, local and English-speaking and will help you get the most out of your trip.
Guides and support staff are keen cyclists and have specialist knowledge of the areas you are visiting. They can help with basic bike repairs, set-ups, and will make your ride as enjoyable as possible.
Almost all dietary requirements can be catered for if we are notified in advance, please ask for more information.
Breakfasts at the hotels will generally consist of hot drinks, toast, jams, cereals, fruits and eggs. Boxed lunches will be sandwiches, crackers, meats, cheeses, cereal bars, and fruits.
Evening meals are prepared at our accommodation, tailored towards the cyclist’s diet.
Note: In remote areas meals may vary depending on availability of certain items.
This bike tour is open to active recreational cyclists, rated as intermediate. You love cycling and lap up consecutive days of 40-50 miles / 65-80 km, with some off-road mixed in. Essentially, most weekends at home, you’re off on bike rides.
Occasionally, there are some challenging climbs and an active pace. Some descents come over rolling terrain. Nevertheless, consider hiring an e-bike if the distance is a worry.
Drivers in Chile are usually respectful towards cyclists. However, we recommend everyone wears a helmet, brings rearview mirrors, and wears brightly-colours jerseys and gloves.
Generally, our support vehicle trails the leading group displaying signs warning drivers that cyclists are ahead.
Chile is the land of contrasts, from verdant vineyards to driest desert, deep fjords and towering glaciated volcanoes.
A narrow but incredibly long, snake-like country, Chile’s unusual geography features more than 5,000km of South Pacific Ocean coast. The country is almost 4,400km long but barely more than 160km at its widest.
It is best divided into general regions, all of which offer spectacular landscapes and identities of their own.
This variety means Chile is the land where almost every activity is possible. Hiking, biking, rafting and kayaking.
Or climbing, cruising, fishing, horse riding, wine tasting.
Or simply eating great food, relaxing and exploring.
Specialized Diverge Elite E5 (2021)
Sizes: 49, 52, 54, 56, 58, 61cm
Frame: Specialized Diverge E5 Premium Aluminium
Fork: FACT carbon, 12×100 mm thru-axle
Wheels: Axis Elit Disc, alloy rim, 14g spokes, 28h
Tires: Specialized RoadSport, 700x38mm or 700x28mm
Shifters: Shimano GRX RX400, 2×10 speed, mechanical shifting
Derailleur: Front: Shimano GRX RX400, braze-on
Rear: Shimano GRX RX400, 10 speed
Crank: Shimano GRX RX600, 46/30T
Cassette: Shimano CH HG50-10, 11-36T, 10 speed
Saddle: Body Geometry Bridge Saddle, steel rails
Seat Post: Alloy, 2-bolt Clamp, 12mm offset, 27.2mm
Handlebars: Specialized Shallow Drop, 31.8mm
Stem: Specialized, 3D-forged alloy, 7-degree
Brake set: Shimano GRX-RX400, hydraulic disc
Helmets & Pedals
Many cyclists prefer to bring their own helmets, although some are available (first come, first served) in Chile. We’d recommend booking in advance.
The bikes have Wellgo pedals and toe clips, or you may bring your own pedals if you wish. There is a limited supply of Shimano SPD and SPD-SL pedals available. Again, it’s first come, first served, and it’s best to let us know and book up in advance.
We provide everything personal equipment, clothing, and some bike kit.
During the day hopefully it will be generally sunny enough for shorts and T-shirts though having a fleece and rain gear handy is advisable. It can and will get cold, especially in the evenings so bring a warm fleece jacket, a good waterproof and some warm clothes including thermal underwear, gloves, scarf and woolly hat as well as one set of smarter clothes for cities.
Below is a more detailed guide.
Detailed kit list – clothing
Climate in Chile’s Lakes and Volcanoes Region
This area of Chile has a temperate and rainy climate. We schedule this tour for spring to summer (October to April) to coincide with the least rain and warmest days.
The average rainfall between November and March is 75mm (three inches), and we recommend wearing rain gear at all times. Mountain, and volcano, weather is famously fickle.
January and February are the warmest months, and daytime temperatures can reach 30-33 degrees Celsius (89-92 degrees Fahrenheit). Late October, November, and April are milder.
Trekking heaven. Paine National Park lies in Patagonia and features some of the best trekking in South America. With no altitude worries here, hikers enjoy an unrivalled mix of access to wild flora and fauna that exists in this massif. It is at once windswept, and then balmy. Paine National Park is a must see for walkers visiting South America.
Northern Patagonia is the least densely populated part of the country – spectacular virgin scenery make this a hidden gem and superb area for trekking, boating and horse riding.
And that’s before you think about possibly cruising through fjords, or kayaking them, flying to Antartica or staying at a working hacienda.
Iconic, Easter Island is an archaeological treasure. Here you will find the famous Moai stone statues, as well as caves and rocks decorated with etched petroglyphs and painted pictographs.
Northern Chile features the Atacama, the driest desert with the clearest skies in the world, is alive with active volcanoes replete with spitting geysers mixed with archaeological wonders and fantastic rock formations.
Central Chile is the heart of Chile and includes the capital Santiago. With its Mediterranean climate of hot dry summers and mild wet winters, this central valley produces some of South America’s finest wines, Colchagua Valley to name but one.
Here, the Andean mountain chain soars more than 6,000m above sea level. Chile’s traditional symbols such as huaso (cowboy) and cueca (national dance) originate here, an area which is rich in agriculture and produces most of Chile’s export fruit.
In winter, skiers are attracted to this tasting the promise of some fabulous snow on the huge peaks which overlook Santiago.
Southern Chile and the Lake District
Lush and verdant, The Lake District area is the place to climb snow-capped volcanoes by day while relaxing next to stunning glacial lakes by evening. You can walk, bike, raft, cruise and drive your way around this beautiful region.
Central, southern and Patagonia Andes all present different challenges to mountaineers and trekkers. Options are varied in the central Andes with many of the Patagonian peaks remaining unexplored and unsummitted.
Chile’s climate varies greatly, owing to its sheer length, variation of terrain and varying altitudes and latitudes.
Lake District and Patagonia
In the south of Chile, here temperatures drop a little compared to the rest of Chile.
It can be better to go in the Austral summer (Oct-March). Daylight hours are much longer at this time, with Nov-Feb being popular times to visit. October and March can be very colourful and vivid with less visitors, but weather can be more blustery.
In Patagonia, the weather is, putting it mildly, variable, and variable on a daily basis. It is usually cool and windy all year round but seldom does the temperature fall below freezing point. Some days start with snow and end in balmy sunshine. It is always interesting, and can range from 10°C-20°C in the summer, although the wind can make it feel chilly.
The vast unbroken stretch of ocean to the west and south of the South American continent leaves the Patagonian Andes very exposed to the saturated winds that circle the Antarctic landmass. Also the South Patagonia Ice field influence makes the weather hard to predict. In spring or early summer fine weather may deteriorate almost without warning, bringing rains and eventually snow. Even in summer (Dec-Mar) you should come prepared to find cold, strong winds (up to 130 km/hr) and rainfalls. The summer’s average temperature is 11ºC/52ºF (24ºC max, 2ºC min).
Winter visits to these southern areas are possible, but many hotels close and not all trips are possible. Daylight hours can be very short, but the lack of visitors can greatly improve chances of seeing wildlife in parks such as Paine.
The Lake District’s temperate climate can be said to resemble that of the UK, with rain possible but also enjoying long spells of fine, fresh weather in the summer (Oct-March).
Although sub-tropical and essentially a year-round destination, Dec-Feb are the most popular times to visit Easter Island as it is summer there and temperatures average 24°C. There can be colder days and it can be humid too.
The winter months (Jun-Oct) on Easter Island are not overly cold, but they can be cool. The average low temperature is 16°C but there is usually a wind at this time of year that makes the temperature feel cooler than it really is.
The wind rarely stops blowing at this time of year.
The north of the country lies in the tropical zone, but in the main is desert. It is dry and sunny all year round, but does get cold at night time in the high altitude areas.
In winter (June-Aug) the average daytime temperature is 22°C (72°F) and by night 4°C (39°F), descending to -2°C (28°F) in extreme cases.
During summer (Jan-Mar) the temperature fluctuates between 27°C (81°F) and a minimum of 16°C (61°F) at night, reaching maximums of 32°C (90°F), with occasional showers.
The wine growers love the central valley, which has a suitable Mediterranean climate of hot dry summers (Nov-March).
Then, temperatures range from 17°C in the evening and can go up to 30°C inland. It is cooler during the day on the coast.
During winter (May-Sept), which is essentially mild and wet, temperatures inland can vary from 5°C to 18°C during the day, and a bit warmer on the coast.
Autumn (Mar-April) and Spring (Oct-Nov) are lovely times to visit, although hotels in Santiago can book out in March, October and November, as it is conference season.
Andean Trails has two decades of experience of dealing with South America holidays.
We pay a fee to the CAA for every licensable passenger we book since we hold an Air Travel Organiser’s Licence granted by the Civil Aviation Authority. In the unlikely event of our insolvency, the CAA will ensure that you are not stranded abroad and will arrange to refund any money you have paid to us for an advance booking.
We also offer ATOL (Civil Aviation Authority) protected holidays to give our customers peace of mind when booking and travelling.
When you buy an ATOL protected air holiday package from Andean Trails Ltd you will receive a Confirmation Invoice from us confirming your arrangements and your protection under our Air Travel Organiser’s Licence number 6275.
You can read more about ATOL, who is covered and what protections you have if not ATOL-covered, on our ATOL page.
What is ATOL?
The CAA’s ATOL scheme offers protection to your money and your holiday if you book with us. Not everybody is covered (see ‘Who is covered?’ for more), as you must purchase an ‘air package holiday’ with Andean Trails to be protected.
And ‘air package holiday’ is defined as including a flight and some ground services (hotel, transfer, trek etc). This is also known as an ‘ATOL-protected holiday’.
Who is covered?
To be covered by ATOL, you must book a flight and some ground services with us and be from the UK. If you are from the UK and only book ground services and no flights, you are not covered by ATOL (see below for more on how non-ATOL clients are covered).
If you are outside the UK and buy flights with us, you will be ATOL protected IF any of the flights booked with Andean Trails touches/stops in the UK at any point during your holiday package booked with us.
If you buy your flights elsewhere, please check with that agent if you are ATOL protected. Be careful with online flight purchases and make sure you know what protection you have, if any, before paying for flights.
Not all holiday or travel services offered and sold by us will be protected by the ATOL scheme. Please ask us to confirm what protection may apply to your booking.
For land only holidays not involving any air travel, in accordance with “The Package Travel, Package Holidays and Package Tours Regulations 1992”, all UK passengers booking with Andean Trails Ltd. are fully protected for the initial deposit and subsequently the balance of all money paid to us, arising from cancellation or curtailment of travel arrangements due to the insolvency of Andean Trails.
I’m not ATOL covered, what protection do I have?
If you are not ATOL covered, any payments you make to us go to a Trust account.
We can only access this money once your tour has been completed, meaning that if anything happens to Andean Trails Limited while you are on holiday, then your money is secure and you can either complete the trip or be able to make it home.
If you pay for your holiday with a credit card, some offer payment protection – please check with your cardholder.
You also should have cancellation protection written into your insurance (which we recommend you have at the time of booking) in case you need to cancel.
Chilean Patagonia, in the south of the country, has a climate with lower temperatures compared to the rest of Chile.
Good kit is vital for every trip.
Book with Andean Trails and get 15% off Páramo’s fantastic ethical and high performance outdoor gear.
Chile has a wide range of climates from arid deserts to bracingly cold Patagonia.
When planning for these changeable climatic conditions you will encounter across Chile, layering is the most practical and versatile clothing system.
The sun is very strong throughout the country, so good sun cream, a hat and sunglasses are vital.
It can also get very cold at night time especially in the mountains. Jumpers, fleeces and warms hats – which you can buy there – are also essential.
Give plenty of thought to kit selection, and try to keep weight down.
Detailed kit list
Chilean Patagonia is a pristine wilderness of fjords, glaciers, plains, mountains and forests.
Southern Patagonia’s main attraction is the Torres del Paine National park. The granite spires attract many visitors to what some have called the 8th Wonder of the World. The park is a trekkers paradise with two classic treks, the Paine W and the Paine Circuit.
Northern Patagonia, the Aysen region, is one of the least populated parts of the country and is blessed with spectacular countryside.
The main airport is Balmaceda near the city of Coyhaique and must see places include Lake General Carrera and the Marble Caves, The San Rafael Glacier, the Quelat Hanging Glacier as well as driving the Austral Road.
The Futaleufu River is a must for white water enthusiasts.
The region also offers great horseback opportunities as well as kayaking ones. Nature enthusiasts can admire the impressive scenery, imposing glaciers and fascinating wildlife and flora.
The Chilean Lake district is an area of snow capped volcanoes that overlooks pristine lakes surrounded by forests and rolling countryside.
The Northern gateway is Temuco Airport. A short drive is Villarrica Lake overlooked by the volcano of the same name. The monkey puzzle tree is autochthonous to the region and can be found all over particularly in Conguillio National park.
The town of Pucon is a great base from which to explore the nearby National parks, hot springs, Mapuche indigenous settlements and for the more adventurous rafting, canopy, trekking and climbing.
In the middle of the region you will find the private Huilo Huilo Biological Reserve, a protected area of Patagonian cold rain forest.
The Southern sector, whose gateway is Puerto Montt, is dominated by Lake Llanquihue and the conical Osorno Volcano.
A popular base is the town of Puerto Varas on the lake shore from where one can visit the local beauty spots or set off on adventures that include biking, kayak, trekking, rafting and much more.
This area combines very well with the Argentine Lake district and the towns of Bariloche and San Martin de Los Andes.
13th Dec 2023 - From $3780 / £3205.44
16th Mar 2024 - From $3780 / £3205.44
Select an available date to view pricing and information for that particular trip.
2023-24 price per person, shared room basis
Minimum 4 people, maximum 12.
Single supplement $400
E-bike rental +$400
Enquire about booking
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+44 (0)131 378 5593
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What's a tailor made trip?
We put together a bespoke tour to fit your requirements.
Prices From $1,742 / £1,477 per person
Capacity: 16 people
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Prices From $1,470 / £1,247 per person
What's a group trip?
Join a small group of like-minded travellers on a guided trip.
Prices From $4,245 / £3,600 per person
Dates: From January 2024 to January 2025
Prices From $5,537 / £4,695 per person
Students Study Food Insecurity & Climate Change in Peru University of Edinburgh students and teachers report back from Peru, where they learned how traditional farming techniques could help prevent climate change and reduce food insecurity. The team visited coastal Lima, the Cusco Highlands, and the cloud forest. For Andean Trails and our local team, it was a chance to showcase a side of Peru that many visitors may not see when passing through. It went so well that the University has already signed up its team to another Food Security tour in the spring of 2024. Learning About …
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