Pondoro Game Lodge
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Pondoro Game Lodge

Traveller (1294)
Tree suite
Room & Suite (269)
Dining (86)
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About

5.0
#1 of 14 lodges in Balule Nature Reserve
4.9 of 5 bubbles
Location
4.9 of 5 bubbles
Cleanliness
5.0 of 5 bubbles
Service
4.8 of 5 bubbles
Value
Tripadvisor gives a Travellers’ Choice award to accommodations, attractions and restaurants that consistently earn great reviews from travellers and are ranked within the top 10% of properties on Tripadvisor.
Set on the cool riverine banks of the Olifants River (largest in Kruger) in the 40 000 ha Big 5 Balule Private Game Reserve inside the greater Kruger National Park, Pondoro offers its visitors comfort, sophistication, elegance and a canvas on which to create a truly unforgettable African safari.In this small, very exclusive 16-bed lodge ( owner managed ) you will discover the only way to experience the African bush. In addition to luxurious accommodation and the caring attention from trained professionals, our visitors are lavished upon with international fare and humble African hospitality.Meals are an extraordinary culinary experience where Traditional African Cuisine fuse effortlessly with modern European trends.To compliment the food, select any of our fine wines from our extensive wine cellar. Vegetarians are specially catered for. All meals are served on a wooden deck high up in the tree canopy overlooking the Olifants River (weather permitting).Between game drives in open safari cruisers, nature walks and peaceful afternoon naps, enjoy a dip in the sparkling rock pool, a spot of sun bathing or browse through the library. The Pondoro bar is the ideal spot to quench your thirst and grab a snack.
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Property amenities
Free parking
Free High Speed Internet (WiFi)
Pool
Fitness Centre with Gym / Workout Room
Free breakfast
Entertainment staff
Airport transportation
Spa
Secured parking
Wifi
Hot bath
Pool / beach towels
Outdoor pool
Bar / lounge
Coffee shop
Restaurant
Special diet menus
Wine / champagne
Full body massage
Massage
Baggage storage
Concierge
Gift shop
Mosquito net
Non-smoking hotel
Shops
Sun loungers / beach chairs
Private check-in / check-out
Dry cleaning
Laundry service
Ironing service
Room features
Bathrobes
Air conditioning
Private balcony
Room service
Safe
Coffee / tea maker
Minibar
Bath / shower
Seating area
Wake-up service / alarm clock
Complimentary toiletries
Hair dryer
Room types
Non-smoking rooms
Suites
Family rooms
Good to know
HOTEL CLASS
Star ratings are intended to indicate the general level of features, amenities, and services to expect. This property is classified according to Giata.
5.0 of 5 stars
HOTEL STYLE
River View
Quaint
Languages Spoken
English, Afrikaans

Location

Kruger National Park 1380 South Africa
Getting there
Hoedspruit Airport
25.4 km
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Phalaborwa Airport
33.8 km
See all flights
1,069Review28Q+A100Room tips

Reviews
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Detailed Reviews
M6418GKdjb wrote a review Jan 2022
Chicago, Illinois25 contributions12 helpful votes
5.0 of 5 bubbles
We had an amazing three nights with the Pondoro team. First, hats off to the staff for the first class treatment of our family during our stay. Lecia and the entire team welcomed us from our arrival and took amazing care of us throughout our stay. The meals were five star quality (and never lacking in quantity) as were the cocktails and wine. KG took amazing care of us at all meals, and Staci did an amazing job making up our room every morning and evening with personal messages left at our bedside. We were treated to an amazing special dinner on our last evening at Pondoro, an early Christmas feast in the wine cellar at Pondoro that was superbly prepared and executed. The game drives each morning and evening were incredible. Thanks to our ranger Rul and guide Andries, we were treated to close up views of elephants, elephant herds, white rhinos, black rhinos (including a young black rhino and his mother), a lion pride on the move in the evening, hippos, Kudu, Impala, water buffalo, zebra, giraffes and other species in the greater Krueger bush. It was a Christmas to remember thanks to the owners and employees of Pondoro.
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Review collected in partnership with this hotel
Date of stay: December 2021
5.0 of 5 bubblesValue
5.0 of 5 bubblesRooms
5.0 of 5 bubblesLocation
5.0 of 5 bubblesCleanliness
5.0 of 5 bubblesService
5.0 of 5 bubblesSleep Quality
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.
jeannine p wrote a review Jun 2021
Cloverdale, California26 contributions35 helpful votes
+1
5.0 of 5 bubbles
Pondoro was our first stop on a 3 week trip in Africa. Every lodge we stayed at after that could not compare, and we stayed at some very high end places.
The difference...it is family owned and run. Their heart and soul goes into everything they do, from owner Lize to Remember the maintenance man and monkey chaser. Each person puts everything into all they do. All done with style and grace and not “in your face” manner.
We stayed in the Tree suite, welcomed by the hippo’s off the deck over looking the river. Spacious, clean and creative..perfect!!!
We were welcomed by Licia who was so warm, her husband Marius is the game driver. Again making this a heartfelt family place. Attention to every detail. My daughter cannot have cow’s milk. Chef made so many creative things for her to eat so she never felt left out of the over the top delicious food.
Each night was a new surprise with dinner. One night we were treated to dinner in the wine cave, another to luminaire lite path to the bank of the river, big fires and then ALL the staff transformed into singing and drumming and dancing. Yes you get this in Africa but never from the people who have been taking great care of you all week. Beyond special!!!
Game dives we great also Marius would quit the morning we were leaving until we found the rhinos and he did. He and tracker Eric are a great team
I cried when we left, only one other time in my life of traveling have I been brought to tears.
It is a 45 minute drive from airport and much of that on the private reserve.

They are highly regarded by other camps in the area for their commitment to their staff and the environment

Thanks to all Lize, Licia, Marius, Sindine,Kgomotso,Yvonne, Ntsoko. You all are beautiful and we will see you in 3 years!
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Date of stay: June 2021
5.0 of 5 bubblesRooms
5.0 of 5 bubblesCleanliness
5.0 of 5 bubblesService
Room Tip: Tree Suite is amazing as is the Water Suite but all are good
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.
Steven B wrote a review May 2023
2 contributions3 helpful votes
5.0 of 5 bubbles
We stayed for 4 nights at Pondoro and it was just fabulous. The lodge itself is gorgeous and the interior design blends in beautifully with the incredible location overlooking the river. The “Tree” suite was everything we could have dreamed of with so much space, beautifully appointed, an outdoor tub, with soaking tub and double shower inside. The food was delicious and the service excellent. Every member of the team went out of their way to make us feel absolutely spoilt especially JD, Joanna, Armand, Ivonne, Mpume, Trinity and Lily to name a few. We treated ourselves to a massage and Lily was amazing. She not only has great technique but also has what I would call “healing hands”. Now onto the game viewing which was sensational. Not only did we see the “Big 5” but we were lucky enough to see a black rhino exhibiting typical behavior. In more than 20 years of doing safaris I have only ever seen a black rhino once before and it was running away into thick bush. We splurged on paying extra for a private vehicle which was fabulous however the lodge has a 6 person maximum limit per vehicle which is prefect as there are 3 rows of seats and couples each get their own row. Some lodges that we have been to overload their vehicles and it is cramped. Not at Pondoro where you get a premium experience from the time you make your reservation until you depart. Annchen, who takes care of reservations is absolutely amazing and went above and beyond for us to take care of all our special requests. Over the years I have been to numerous “And Beyond” properties in southern Africa and I can tell you that Pondoro is right up there. And at much less than you would pay at one of their lodges. The owners Robbie and Lize are “hands on” and this makes a big difference with the attention to detail and service levels you receive. I cannot recommend Pondoro enough and would return in a heartbeat. It really was truly exceptional!
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Date of stay: April 2023
5.0 of 5 bubblesValue
5.0 of 5 bubblesLocation
5.0 of 5 bubblesService
Trip type: Travelled as a couple
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.
Steven S wrote a review Sept 2021
2 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
Gong on an African Safari was a life long dream that finally came true. This was not only a bucket list but a late in life Honeymoon. I don't think I can say enough about the owners and staff at Pondoro to fully explain how great of an experience we had. They made us feel like family and showed us that we mattered at every turn.

The attention to every detail could not have been more excellent. The staff, the owner, along with our Guide and tracker were on point all the time. The schedules were consistent, managed well, and delivered.

The amount and quality of food can't be explained. We are trying to get them to create a recipe book, it was that good. The soups, muffins, and meals were 5 star. The accommodations were luxury but still made you feel like you were in the bush.

We saw lots of animals on the drives, they would stay out as long as needed to get the job done. We went off road all the time and came within feet of lions, elephants, leopard's, giraffe's, and hyena. Some times so close you could feel them. Our guide did not talk too much but gave us plenty of information. Upon our return from every drive there was warm of cold towels to freshen up along with hot tea. There was always plenty of food and water on the drives. They even had safety glasses and binoculars available.

If you want the combination of bush adventure and luxury this is the place to go.
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Date of stay: August 2021
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.
Chris S wrote a review Jan 2020
9 contributions18 helpful votes
5.0 of 5 bubbles
My wife and I stayed 4 nights at Pondoro during our honeymoon and it was among the most incredible experiences we've ever had. Pondoro is a special place - the rooms are luxurious, the staff are hard-working and always smiling, and the safari drives had tons of animals. We saw lions, leopards, elephants, rhinos, hyenas, giraffes, hippos, zebras and wild dogs each day. Our guide (Solly) and tracker (Amerika) did a fantastic job of locating the animals and teaching us about them, very nice guys. The food is 5 stars and there is no shortage of it. Pondoro has 5 unique private chalets, each with an outdoor jacuzzi on the private deck, with a view of the Olifants River. We even had a giraffe come within a few meters of our porch one night!! This is a special place - you will not regret staying at Pondoro.

Thank you so much!
Chris and Kristen
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Date of stay: October 2019
5.0 of 5 bubblesRooms
5.0 of 5 bubblesCleanliness
5.0 of 5 bubblesService
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.
Kayla Lourens wrote a review Feb 2024
Stellenbosch, South Africa191 contributions32 helpful votes
+1
5.0 of 5 bubbles
Pondoro Game Lodge is set on the banks of the Olifants River in Balule Private Game Reserve inside the greater Kruger National Park.

The lodge is family-owned by Lize and Robbie and offers only 8 rooms, ensuring exclusivity and personalized service for every guest.

They provide exceptional service, delicious food, and breathtaking natural surroundings. It Is the best way to experience the African bush.

The lodge really felt intimate, and the staff made me feel at home as soon as I arrived. The staff had genuine smiles that lit up the whole room.

I stayed in the “Buffalo” Suite, and it was nothing short of spectacular. The suite had a thatched roof, beautiful décor, and best of all, sweeping views of the Olifant’s River and surrounding wild. The owners perfectly blended African furnishings and modern amenities to create a comfortable and memorable stay.

The suite did not have any fencing, so you are completely in nature. We were offered handmade bracelets as a welcome gift, they were made by their housekeeper Sindile (what a sweet touch). We were also gifted a lovely bottle of red wine upon arrival. The suite was spacious, and the king bed had the perfect view. The bathroom had a big open shower and a bathtub which also boasted views of the outdoors. On the outside deck there was a shower, and the main feature, the rock bathtub overlooking the river.

The deck was the perfect place to relax and take in the sights and sounds of the surrounding nature. Every day I saw elephants bathing in the river, and monkeys swinging from the trees. The hippos also made sure I knew they were there with their loud noises coming from the river.

The meals were brilliant, offering international cuisine with a South African touch. The lodge’s extensive wine list has won international awards, and their staff will recommend the best wines for each meal. I particularly liked the Stellenzicht Shiraz.

For breakfast each morning, I had their signature iced coffee, some seasonal fruit and the eggs benedict. The breakfast is a la carte and has a great variety of hot and cold dishes.

For lunch they offered a set menu which changed daily, and in addition to that, they offered a ‘high tea’ station with drinks and snacks to enjoy after the main lunch meal.

For our first night we had dinner on the riverbank, with sounds of hippos in the background. It was quite a scary experience, but the staff made it so much fun.
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Review collected in partnership with this hotel
Date of stay: February 2024
5.0 of 5 bubblesValue
5.0 of 5 bubblesRooms
5.0 of 5 bubblesLocation
5.0 of 5 bubblesCleanliness
5.0 of 5 bubblesService
5.0 of 5 bubblesSleep Quality
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.
RKU8400 wrote a review Jan 2020
Winterthur, Switzerland6 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
This was our first stay at Pondoro. We had an organized transfer from the Sabi Sands area. If you drive to Pondoro on your own, you may want to make sure that your car has some clearance, the 30 min drive from the Balule gate is a bit bumpy in places. You won't need 4WD I think, but a bit of clearance can't hurt. The lodge is fantastic, the suites are extremely well designed. It is almost a pity that you spend so little time in them. The pictures on their website set the expectations quite high, but we weren't disappointed at all. We found the lodge offers true hospitality. It started with the Check-In during which Kelly explained everything in detail. And the food is fabulous, the portions maybe a little bit too big (but we did ask for smaller portions after day 1, and then all was good :-) But everything tasted so delicious. And you see so many animals from close by. Rul was our guide, and Andries our tracker. They did a fantastic job. We enjoyed each and every drive. The location of the lodge is fantastic, too. From the terrace where you have lunch and dinner, you can already spot some wildlife, sometimes very close and sometimes on the other side of the river. We hope to be back in the area, and certainly wouldn't hesitate to come back to Pondoro.

We would like to thank everybody at Pondoro for providing such a remarkable and wonderful stay.
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Date of stay: May 2019
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.
Erica P wrote a review Aug 2022
South Holland Province, The Netherlands38 contributions43 helpful votes
+1
5.0 of 5 bubbles
We stayed in Pondoro for 4 days, we felt very welcome here. It was unforgettable! We had 2 lodges next to each other, and had a private channel on the walkie-talkie so the kids could always contact us if necessary. The lodges had everything we needed (and more!), beautiful views from the terras and jacuzzi on the Olifants river, were we saw giraffes, hippos, crocodiles and elephants! Also at night there was a lot of wildlife around the lodge. We enjoyed the excellent food, from breakfast and lunch till dinner and the little sweets at our lodge at night. We also had a bush dinner with great singing and dancing by the staff in a romantic setting near the river. While we were eating, the hyenas walked behind us..
We did the bush walk and had a picnic at the waterhole. Unfortunately there was no wildlife during that time, but we just enjoyed the birds and silence and lovely food!
The safaris with sunset coffee/tea/chocolate and sundowners were great. In the car there were blankets, jugs, binoculars, and a bottle of water for everyone. Our ranger Rul and tracker Andries did their best to let us really feel and enjoy Balule Game Reserve at his best. We saw a lot of wild animals during the safaris, even the leopard and wild dogs. We will never forget this experience at Pondoro!!
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Date of stay: August 2022
5.0 of 5 bubblesValue
5.0 of 5 bubblesService
5.0 of 5 bubblesSleep Quality
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.
Carly H wrote a review Mar 2020
Wausau, Wisconsin3 contributions1 helpful vote
5.0 of 5 bubbles
Every aspect of this trip was amazing! We flew into Johannesburg and drove 6 hours to the lodge. We were greeted by Kelly who gave us a warm welcome and a tour of the lodge. We stayed in the Rock Suite, and had a beautiful view of the river. From the deck we could see 3 giraffes, a bunch of zebras playing, impala, and water buck right when we arrived.

The lodge is a gem, way out in the middle of the bush. Very peaceful and close to nature, but with every amenity to make you feel at home. Rooms and common areas were all clean and comfortable. The shady bar area is a perfect place to relax and watch the wildlife with a glass of wine.

The days are very well planned with enough to do, but still have time to enjoy the pool, bar, spa, and amazing rooms. Since it is located on a reserve, there are some areas where you need to be escorted at night (outside the fenced in area) but we always felt safe.

The food is spectacular! 5 stars for every meal!! I even asked them to send me a recipe to try at home (it's just not the same :) )You have the option to pick a red meat, white meat, or vegetarian dish for dinner each day. They even pack snacks and drinks for the game drives. I enjoyed trying new foods that normally would be outside my comfort zone (ostrich, impala) and they were so delicious.

The staff is amazing. Everyone was very friendly and made us feel so welcome. Thank you to Lily, Ivonne, Liza, and Kelly for the hospitality! Our guides for the game drives, Andreis and Rul, were knowledgeable and experienced. We had no expectation going into the game drives and had no idea how much we would see.
On our 6 drives we saw a leopard, elephants, male and female lions, white and black rhinos, wildebeest, giraffes, zebras, monkeys, hyenas, hippos, among others. So awesome to be so close to the animals in their habitat! Even if we wouldn't have seen anything, the off-road adventure was a lot of fun!

I don't normally write reviews, but I was so impressed with everything that I wanted to share. I can't say enough good things about Pondoro!! The only Big 5 animal we didn't see was the buffalo, so we plan to return in the future to finish this bucket list, and will definitely stay at Pondoro again!
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Date of stay: January 2020
5.0 of 5 bubblesCleanliness
5.0 of 5 bubblesService
5.0 of 5 bubblesSleep Quality
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.
Garrett N wrote a review Nov 2021
2 contributions1 helpful vote
5.0 of 5 bubbles
We did not know what to expect when we arrived as our travel agent set it up based on other guests reviews. From the moment we arrived until we left, we were blown away by the beautiful accommodations, the tremendous customer service and genuine focus on us having a wonderful experience, the knowledge and effort of the driver and tracker during our safaris, the food, servers, and complete attention to detail. They setup special lunch locations for us off site to make it even more special. We saw the Big 5 and all because our driver and tracker kept searching for us. Anyone wanting a beautiful location and a top notch safari experience will go to Pondoro!
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Date of stay: October 2021
5.0 of 5 bubblesRooms
5.0 of 5 bubblesService
5.0 of 5 bubblesSleep Quality
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.
Answer from african_momma7
Los Angeles, California54 contributions6 helpful votes
I didn't use the laundry service
Answer from judithm805
West Chester, Pennsylvania25 contributions12 helpful votes
All arrangements were made through Pondoro or their safari agent, we were extremely satisfied.
Answer from Robbie_Prehn
3 contributions
There is no difference between February or March. Furthest chalet is Hardekool and furthest suite is Water or Buffalo.
Bernhard H wrote a tip May 2024
2 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
"Do the bush walks as the guide has time to explain you also very interesting stuff about the plants and small animals."
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Lynette M wrote a tip Feb 2024
2 contributions1 helpful vote
5.0 of 5 bubbles
"Book - you really won't be disappointed"
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6littlejoe wrote a tip Jan 2024
Houston, TX5 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
"BOOK IT!!!! "
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Colin Rodnick wrote a tip Dec 2023
10 contributions2 helpful votes
5.0 of 5 bubbles
"Fly into Hoedspruit. Easy transportation to and from offer through the hotel. Also, stay longer than you think you wont regret it."
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Strawberry_Rubia wrote a tip Oct 2023
Florida26 contributions8 helpful votes
5.0 of 5 bubbles
"If you need transfer Hoedspruit Airport to/from Lodge, I recommend using Osprey Tours instead of booking through lodge. It is cheaper."
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Not the right property for you?
There are more places to choose from in the Balule Nature Reserve area.
PRICE RANGE
$1,418 - $1,782 (Based on Average Rates for a Standard Room)
ALSO KNOWN AS
pondoro game hotel balule private game reserve
LOCATION
South AfricaKruger National ParkBalule Nature Reserve
NUMBER OF ROOMS
8
Prices are provided by our partners for one room, with variable occupancy rules as provided by the property, and reflect total costs of the stay, including all taxes and fees known to our partners. Please see our partners for more details.
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PONDORO GAME LODGE - Reviews & Price Comparison (Balule Nature Reserve, South Africa) - Tripadvisor

Frequently Asked Questions about Pondoro Game Lodge
What are some of the property amenities at Pondoro Game Lodge?
Some of the more popular amenities offered include free wifi, free breakfast, and a pool.
Which room amenities are available at Pondoro Game Lodge?
Top room amenities include a minibar, air conditioning, and a mosquito net.
What food & drink options are available at Pondoro Game Lodge?
Guests can enjoy free breakfast, an on-site restaurant, and a lounge during their stay.
Is parking available at Pondoro Game Lodge?
Yes, free parking and secured parking are available to guests.
Are there opportunities to exercise at Pondoro Game Lodge?
Yes, guests have access to a pool and a fitness centre during their stay.
Does Pondoro Game Lodge have airport transportation?
Yes, Pondoro Game Lodge offers airport transportation for guests. We recommend calling ahead to confirm details.
Are any cleaning services offered at Pondoro Game Lodge?
Yes, dry cleaning and laundry service are offered to guests.
Which languages are spoken by the staff at Pondoro Game Lodge?
The staff speaks multiple languages, including English and Afrikaans.
Does Pondoro Game Lodge have any great views?
Yes, guests often enjoy the river view available here.
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