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TonyQ

@@Chakra

A hidden jewel indeed. What beautiful flowers and lovely photos - wonderful.

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Chakra

@@Chakra

A hidden jewel indeed. What beautiful flowers and lovely photos - wonderful.

Thanks very much TonyQ.

I keep on saying and probably people get annoyed with me for that : SA has so much more to offer than just the Big Five. I must return to the Middle Earth kingdom of Drakensberg one day.

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Treepol

@@Chakra thanks for posting your photos of Postberg and West Coast NP, such a beautiful and colourful destination.

 

I like your photos of the Cedarburg area and the Van Rhynsdorp Pass, both of which are new locations for me.

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michael-ibk

Really enjoying this, Chakra, and welcome to Safaritalk, very glad you decided to get aboard. Having just returned from there I fully agree that South Africa´s lesser known areas are fantastic places (though I´ve only visited a few). I had thought about Cederberg and the West Coast but ultimately went with De Hoop. Your report proves that next time it will have to go the opposite way. Love all the flower pictures, the one with the caterpillar is stunning especially. Looking forward to more!

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penolva

Welcome @@Chakra. Beautiful photographs. Really going to enjoy reading this. I think your 'friend' will be getting a bit worried about the lack of rain so far this year. ?

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xelas

Hey, Chak, I really hope that "no flowers has been injured in making that picture"! The Van Rhynsdorp Pass road looks fabulous :) !

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Chakra

@@Chakra thanks for posting your photos of Postberg and West Coast NP, such a beautiful and colourful destination.

 

I like your photos of the Cedarburg area and the Van Rhynsdorp Pass, both of which are new locations for me.

 

@treepol: thanks. I sincerely wished that I had kept one or two days more for this area. But as we all know it is so difficult to fit everything in one go.

 

 

Really enjoying this, Chakra, and welcome to Safaritalk, very glad you decided to get aboard. Having just returned from there I fully agree that South Africa´s lesser known areas are fantastic places (though I´ve only visited a few). I had thought about Cederberg and the West Coast but ultimately went with De Hoop. Your report proves that next time it will have to go the opposite way. Love all the flower pictures, the one with the caterpillar is stunning especially. Looking forward to more!

 

@@michael-ibk : Thanks and I'm also very happy with my decision to joinn Safari Talk to interact with you guys. De Hoop reserve is an excellent choice. Did you do the 5 day Whale Trail ? Next time please do go North. You won't regret it.

I always like my Little Ones ! I would love to find out about its metamorphosis and the final shape. Would it be a Monarch butterfly ?

I'm not sure if I'm allowed to give external links ( non-profit making of course) in my TR. If so I'll share that article about Top Ten New attractions in SA.

 

 

Welcome @@Chakra. Beautiful photographs. Really going to enjoy reading this. I think your 'friend' will be getting a bit worried about the lack of rain so far this year. ?

 

Dear "friend" penolva, don't you worry. The rains will appear just in time for you. I will put in a good word for you with the Boss. You deserve it.

 

Hey, Chak, I really hope that "no flowers has been injured in making that picture"! The Van Rhynsdorp Pass road looks fabulous :) !

 

Hi xelas. No worries. In fact all the flowers were screaming at me , "Take a photo, Take a photo". :D :D :D

You and I like mountain passes. I remember our discussions about Spreetshoogte pass in Namibia and Vrsic pass in your country when we first istatrted interacting many years back.

 

 

OK, more flowers to follow......

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Chakra

The Van Rhynsdorp pass is not that challenging, unless you get stuck behind a lorry !!
One must stop at the top of the pass to enjoy the huge wide plain, arrow straight road, patchwork of colours and the flat Gifberg in the distance. They have a picnic site there. Enjoy a beer there.

I shall now share some photos from the Knersvlakte region. For the ignorant : it means " The gnashing noise produced by the wheels of the carts on the track".
Others say this referred to the difficulty of crossing this plain as the travellers were continuously grinding their teeth.

Can't be a very pleasant sound. But someone in their infinite wisdom decided to name this area after the sound.

It was a mad dash from one place to another to pack as much flower as possible. I am genunely sorry that I had to turn back from the gates of Hantam Botanical Garden. It did look spelndid but I was running out of time fast and clearly anything below two hours wouldn't have made any justice to Hantam.
Future travellers please keep at least couple of days for this area. I was talking to a guy when planning and he told me that he was there for 3 days and it was cloudy on each and evry day and the flowers never came out. I also came across a report where in one year the Clan William flower festival itself was cancelled as there was little rain.

 

Now some practical tips.

 

The N7 cuts through the flower route dividing it into a Coastal area and the inland area. Coastal areas flower earlier, are often spectacular but are much more remote with little accommodation option and would need 4WD for some areas. Sanparks open temporary chalets by the beach but they cost an arm and a leg.

 

The inland areas are much more easily accessible and in a good year equally stunning.

For Inland section : the best way to see the flowers is to make a loop. I had this plan. Turn right from N7 head towards Van Rhynsdorp pass --- Van Rhynsdorp---Nieuwodtville-- Calvinia ---go north towards Loreisfontein -- a little more north towards Kliprand and then turn west towards N7 joining near Bitterfontein.

If you are travelling towards south ( unlike me who was travelling North) then it is even better as you'll have the flowers facing you most of the time and let me tell you facing the flowers gives a totally different perspective.

This will criss-cross between Northern and Western Cape.

There are dirt roads in betwen as well to cut short the travelling time and bring you closer to the flowers, but I couldn't risk that in my rented Avanza. If I had a Hilux : Oh yes. of course. If you have a 4WD, have time and don't mind getting lost then I'd strongly recommend that.

There was surprise behind every bend. We were just driving towards Calvinia when my wife spotted some unusual Red colour on the roadside patch. I had no idea what it was, but it was one of the most stunning display. At least 100 metres covered in bright red tiny succulents.
Any help in the ID here ?

The varierty changed significantly near Hantam as more and more bulbs appeared and some even in shocking pink colour.
Nieuwodtville looked like a nice place with a lovely church. We did think about stopping there for some lunch but again I dropped that idea. What's more important ? Lunch or flowers ? By this time the sun had come out nice and bright and all the floral beauties were keen to show their faces.

I also had a quick look at the Nieuowdtville waterfall. Had to pay 15 rands. If you are hard pressed for time then you may miss it but it is indeed amazing to see a waterfall in the midle of this arid barren land.
But I had just experinced Vic falls, swimming in the mighty Zambezi and sitting on the edge of oblivion at the Devil's Armchair. I don't think any waterfall will ever impress me any more.

My tip is to talk to the locals and they can guide you to the best local displays. And always, always make a quick visit to the local tourism offices. I found them invariably polite and helpful.
Sometimes the best local display can be in a private farm but usually the farmers let tourists visit free of charge.

I had originally planned to travel all the way to Loreisfontein but decided to turn back from Calvinia. In my opinion Nieuowdtville is the best option here.

But I couldn't miss the Quiver tree forest at Ganabos. I've seen a few Quiver trees before but not so many growing along the ridges. I was slightly late to see them in blossom but some of them still had some flowers.

Totally saturated it was now time to head towards my next stop at Kamiskroon. I missed out on the Skilpad Sanparks Chalets, which go like hot cakes in August/September. The options for accommodations in this region are slim but the place I eventually booked was a decent one with a very helpful landlady.

It was Kamieskroon self catering cottage, landlady was Michelle.

 

Enough talking !!

 

 

Every visit to Africa is a special visit for us but this was a little more extra special. A miracle was unfolding in front of my eyes and I did not have to break my bank to watch that !!

 

 

 

The unexpected roadside delight for a stretch of nearly 200 metres !!

 

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Mrs Scarlett O'Hara and her Flower Power :P :P :P

 

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The Shocking Pink

 

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Welcome

 

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The Nieuwotdville waterfall

 

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Around Hantam Botanical garden area

 

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Growing everywhere by roadside

 

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penolva

Beautiful I can't wait :) oh I do :( 12 weeks Pen

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Marks

Shockingly beautiful landscapes (and of course flowers)! It's great to see something so refreshingly different. Hope you've got plenty more in store!

Edited by Marks
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Chakra

@@Marks : thanks. I am not sure if I am worthy of such praise but your appreciation truly makes my day. To be honest I was a bit hesitant to share my trip here as this was not really a "safari" but as we know the "Safari" actually means a journey and just not observing big animals , so I decided to go ahead.

@pen : only 12 weeks. Those will fly :P :P By the way I heard that Karoo had good rain recently. Fingers crossed.

This is for your man. The sign on the door of Gents' toilet at Nieuowdtville. Yes a Moustache !! The sign of a real man. Daughters told me corresponding sign on ladies' was high heels !!

 

 

 

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Now some shots of the Quiver tree forest. This was a very pleasant surprise. I was not really expecting to see so many of them.

 

Road to Ganabos farm

 

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In flower

 

 

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A beautiful church

 

 

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Edited by Chakra
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penolva

Mr moustache says thank you. Great news about Nieuowdtville and its waterfall etc as we have three nights on a farm just outside town. :)))

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Marks

@@Marks : thanks. I am not sure if I am worthy of such praise but your appreciation truly makes my day. To be honest I was a bit hesitant to share my trip here as this was not really a "safari" but as we know the "Safari" actually means a journey and just not observing big animals , so I decided to go ahead.

 

 

I'm very glad you did go ahead! We all love the animals, but there is so much in Africa to see. I'm happy to feast my eyes on everything, especially through photos like yours.

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Kitsafari

more scenic road views and more charming floral photos. and I learned something today :

 

@@Marks : thanks. I am not sure if I am worthy of such praise but your appreciation truly makes my day. To be honest I was a bit hesitant to share my trip here as this was not really a "safari" but as we know the "Safari" actually means a journey and just not observing big animals , so I decided to go ahead.

 

 

(from Wikipedia) The Swahili word safari means journey, originally from the Arabic سفر (safar) meaning a journey;[1] the verb for "to travel" in Swahili is kusafiri.

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Chakra

@@penolva : Three nights in the company of flowers :o :o :o Gosh ! You'll start looking like those daisies by the end of your stay.

@@Marks : yes, there is indeed so much more to see in Africa other than the animals. The thundering waterfalls, volcanoes and lava lake, Cape of Storms, red dunes of Namibia : one can go on and on and on !!

@@Kitsafari : I'm glad that you have found the inner meaning of your name :) :) Safar is a commonly used word in many North Indian languages like Urdu and Hindi, which have strong ties with Arabic.

When I was a kid growing up in India there was a megahit song from a Bollywood movie : "Zindgi ek Safar hai suhana" which means "Life is one beautiful joirney". So we are all on a Safari the minute we are born !

 

OK, let's get back to my rambling !

 

So totally high from the flowers I started my drive towards my next destination Kamieskroon, very close to Skilpad, Namaqua NP headquarter. Lovely drive along N7, flowers growing abundantly by the side of the highway. Sun shining. Very polite drivers letting me overtake them easily. What a lovely day !
All of a sudden I realised that in my rush I had forgotten to fill up petrol at the last big town that we crossed about an hour back and the map showed the next gas station was in Garies. The tank was about a quarter full. After shouting at my wife for not reminding me to fill up ( she is always at fault for anything that goes wrong) ; the panic started. Switched off A/c, drove at slow steady pace and whenever I had the chance used neutral to save fuel. Another bar gone : more palpitation !
Then we crossed a place called Bitterfontein. No gas stations shown in the map. But as I was crossing; Lo and Behold ! The most beautiful sight of the whole day. A gas station. Much more attractive than those flowers. God is great !
Filled up full tank. I was so relieved that in my happiness tipped the attendant handsomely. There was even a clean toilet to use.
I am going to suggest a name change for Bitterfontein. To me it was Sweet Fontein !!

It was getting pretty late by that time and we reached our next stay at met our lovely hostess Michelle at Kamieskroon. It is really a town of 3 streets ! Michelle told me that when we leave next day we could just to leave the keys under the mat in front of the door. she didn't seem to be too bothered about her stuff getting stolen. This place had an aura like frontier towns of the Wild West.

Outside the "Flower Season" this is just a dusty small village by the highway.

There was a rock formation in front of the cottage which is locally known as The Sleeping Bushman. You can actually see the Bushman's forehead and nose against the setting sun. Lovely silhouette.
Quick dinner with some noodle and soup, check the weather and crash !
Got up to lovely sun shine and a flock of egrets grazing in the middle of the famous Namaqua Daisies. And a Surikate peeping ! And of course a couple of birds. A sunbird I could ID but one surprisingly loud one I couldn't ID. Any help ?

Looked promising with plenty of sunshine and 25 degrees C predicted.

 

Lovely drive on N 7 with flowers growing by the side of the road for miles.

 

 

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The sleeping Bushman

 

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Egrets and flowers

 

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Hey Timon

 

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What's the name of this feathered friend ?

 

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Edited by Chakra
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michael-ibk

Could be wrong, but I think it´s a Bokmakierie.

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xelas

And for that town name, what about Petrolfontaine?!

Aren't we designated drivers happy to have always someone to blame for our mistakes? And they cannot even kicked us out of the car ... although sometimes I am sure they wanted to do so :rolleyes: !

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Peter Connan

I agree with @@michael-ibk 's ID.

 

As another designated driver, I have found it's a bad idea to blame the better half. It catches up to me soon enough, and definately no later than dinnertime!

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Chakra

Thanks very much @@Peter Connan and @@michael-ibk. I actually looked it up and I'm pretty sure I heard its loud and distinctive call. In fact I was surprised about the noise coming out from such a small bird.

 

@@xelas : regarding the driving, my wife is a fierce woman and she disses it back to me straighaway. And she never forgets to remind me that she passed the driving test at first attempt while I took three. In my defence, I used to stay at a place called Ilford near London at that time, which was a madhouse whereas she passed it from a small town. No comparison.

It just feels nice to shout at someone , knowing fully well that you'll make up by dinner time.

Edited by Chakra
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Chakra

Today's main destination was the Skilpad section of the Namaqua NP , also known as Ocean of Orange.
I have seen plenty of flowers so far, but still I wasn't 100 % satisfied as I had heard that there were places where one could not see the soil for miles. Will Skilpad live up to the hype ?
Skilpad in Afrikaans language means Tortoise.
My lovely hostess Michelle ( bless her , such a nice person. Originally from Pretoria and stuck at Kamieskroon because her husband is a high ranking officer in a government depatrtment) told me the story. Apparently the farmer who first tried to settle there could not find any water and was about to move away when he saw a tortoise. It was well known that Tortoises lived close to water source. So the farmer followed the Tortoise and Hey Presto, he found water. So the grateful farmer named his farm Skilpad.
The best route to Skilpad is from Kamieskroon alomg a 20 km dirt road. After a bone shaking ride eating dust I eventually reached Skilpad. Already the sea of Orange had started and it was nicely interspersed with blue and yellow. Those blue flowers I had not seen before. I was excited like a child.

I reached the main section and the first view well and truly blew me away. All the way my eye could see I saw the Ocean of Orange with Namaqua daisies blowing in the gentle wind.
And all I needed to do was just drive along a 5 km circular road through Skilpad. Nothing much to say as words can't describe it. There is a big rock by the side of teh main route and if you climb on top of that you can see the whole expanse.
We were allowed to walk among the flowers as well. Soon dear wife found the place with the best view in the park and a very strategically placed bench. Actually the park authority had put up a sign there urging tourists to "Sit for a minute". A small pond surrounded by orange, pink and yellow.

I chatted with an old lady who had been coming to the park for last ten years and she casually commented that " This year the flowers are not that good." Really ????

I would then love to return in a Good year. Honestly it was hurting my eyes with so much orange.

I have seen Dutch bulb fields where miles and miles of Tulip grow. Wonderful sight but it was man-made, whereas this was genuinely God's creation.

The Namaqua park extends all the way to the Atlantic Coast and I heard the coastal flowers were superb this year but sadly neither did I have the time nor the right car to travel through sand and boulders.

From Skilpad I took a little detour towards a place called Soebatsfontein ( note the "fontein" again ? Everything in this arid area is related to water sources) and immediately saw the difference in flowers.
The Orange daisies were replaced by other taller and different coloured flowers. Sadly after a while I had to turn back as I still had to drive to Richtersveld that day.
I had heard coastal flowers were superb this year.

I personally went to find and thank Namaqua NP Public Relations Officer Mrs Eliza van Lente. I have been e-mailing her for a month about weather, rain and flower distribution and she had always responded to my e-mails.
So many flowers had made us very hungry so it was time to have a beer and a burger. While I was enjoying my meal four South African ladies parked in front of us, took out a video camera, put it on a tripod, switched on the car stereo to play a gospel hymn and started dancing to God. What a place to offer your gratitude to God. We thanked them loudly on completion.

I went through several other towns in Northern Cape as well. Springbok, Steinkopf, O'keif etc. Yes they were also very pretty and had lots of flowers but after seeing Skilpad it was difficult to be impressed again.
I need to return in one of those "Good" years and stay in a tent set up next to the Atlantic ocean. Going off to sleep to the sound of surf and wake up to the views of miles and miles of wild flowers.

 

Only one little gripe. I lost my sunglasses and more importantly my Polarising filter in this ocean of orange. But I didn't complain. Giving up wine and chocolate were definitely worth the effort and sunglasses and filters can be bought but memories can't.

 

Dear Reader : You must must must visit the Skilpad section of Namaqua NP.

 

The day was a mixture of a bit of cloud and a bit of sun so the flowers actually looked different during sunny and cloudy spells. But the temperature was consitently high, but not too high , so they kept their faces open

 

 

Approaching Skilpad from Kamieskroon via a dirt road. Nice mix of blue flowers

 

 

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Blue and yellow

 

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The sign of Northern Cape

 

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Yes, almost there. I am excited ! A bit cloudy but the daisies don't seem to mind and good to photograph.

 

 

 

 

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Gateway to heaven

 

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The Orange Carpet rolled out in my honour ! I wanted to roll down the hills.

 

 

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It takes a lot to impress a sixten year old girl but even she was spellbound. Lost in the middle of flowers !

 

 

 

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The 5 km loop road

 

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My dream comes true. The last pic with my sunglasses !!

 

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The symbol of Namaqua NP

 

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Take a break . Wisely chosen point.

 

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My wife following the advice of Sanparks

 

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The View

 

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Sweet Dreams are made of these , who am I to disagree ?

 

 

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@@Chakra, this is amazing!!! We did not make it so far north, we stopped in Paternoster, but wish we had the time for the drive to Namaqualand...wow!

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penolva

Oh my If it's that good for us it will be a good year :)

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xelas

That is just purely amazing! The flowers, I mean, not the fact you have lost both your sunglasses and your CP-L (but how on earth you could lost a CP-L??!!). Fantastic colours, great photos, so colourful ... and it could even be better??

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Towlersonsafari

Hurrah! @@Chakra What splendid photo's! We were there last year and did the walk through the flowers as well. you just can't stop smiling at so much beauty, and how you get patches of different colours amongst the orange.

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Chakra

@

 

@@Chakra, this is amazing!!! We did not make it so far north, we stopped in Paternoster, but wish we had the time for the drive to Namaqualand...wow!

 

Next time do not stop til you reach Namibia !!

 

 

Hurrah! @@Chakra What splendid photo's! We were there last year and did the walk through the flowers as well. you just can't stop smiling at so much beauty, and how you get patches of different colours amongst the orange.

 

I went crazy !!

 

 

That is just purely amazing! The flowers, I mean, not the fact you have lost both your sunglasses and your CP-L (but how on earth you could lost a CP-L??!!). Fantastic colours, great photos, so colourful ... and it could even be better??

 

Long story. I had droped my 15-85 lens the day before onto hard surface. My heart nearly stopped !! The lens survived but at the point of contact the rim of the CPL was bent in and I could not turn it properly amy more. So I had taken it off and was using it intermittently. Yes apparently it can be even better.

 

Oh my If it's that good for us it will be a good year :)

 

You are going to have a cracking year.

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