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Discover Sri Lanka

Spend two weeks exploring the delights of this diverse and inspiring island



At a glance

* 14 nights comfortable hotels, all en suite
* Travel by private bus
* Additional travel by train, bicycle and jeep
* Some long drives

Spend two weeks exploring the delights of this diverse and inspiring island

Lapped by the warm waters of the Indian Ocean, Sri Lanka is a natural
paradise with a landscape of verdant mountains, rainforests, paddy fields,
tumbling waterfalls and sweeping gorges. From ancient Buddhist temples, the
fortress of Sigiriya, the towns of Kandy and Nuwara Eliya in the hill
country, the wildlife of Yala National Park (which has one of the highest
concentrations of leopards in the world), to the idyllic palm-fringed beaches
of the south coast, this small island offers incredible variety, made extra
special by its laid back atmosphere and hospitable people.

https://www.exodus.co.uk/sites/exod/files/node/itinerary/images/ail_2.jpg?t=1DSsdN

Type: Land Only

Flight prices available from NeenanCycling. Contact us for details

What’s included

* All breakfasts and 1 lunch
* All accommodation
* All transport and listed activities
* Tour leader throughout
* Flights from London (if booking incl. flights)

Food:
All breakfasts and 1 lunch is included.

We suggest allowing about £15-£17 (approx. US – US.50) per day for
all other meals. Sri Lankan cuisine is a fascinating reflection of the
island’s heritage; there is a unique fusion of fresh local produce with
spices brought to the island over the centuries by Malays, Arabs, Indians as
well as the Dutch, Portuguese and English. Despite (or perhaps because of)
these influences, Sri Lankan cuisine is often referred to as simply ‘Rice
and Curry’. This is the staple dish in most restaurants and is usually a
serving of rice accompanied by assorted meat and vegetable curries as well as
various pickles, ‘sambols,’ and a handful of tiny poppadum’s – all
using the contrasting flavours of coconut, chilli, curry leaves, cinnamon and
garlic.

Vegetarians are well catered for but please inform us before departure of any
special dietary requests. Please note that in Sri Lanka the availability of
certain products is minimal or non-existent, for example wheat or dairy-free.
Please be prepared for this and you may need to bring these from home.
Spicier food can be avoided easily and lots of the hotels will serve Western
options alongside traditional food.

Start destination: Veyangoda

End destination: Colombo

Cycling profile

Day 1

The group flight arrives at Colombo’s Bandaranaike Airport and we transfer to
our hotel approximately 30 minutes away. Those not flying with the group will
meet us at the hotel.
*The Covanro or alternative accommodation in the area*

Day 2

We depart after breakfast for the drive (approx. 4 hours) through lush green
countryside (a mix of coconut palms, paddy fields and banana plantations)
through Kurunegala to Dambulla. Here we visit the magnificent Cave Temple,
for some, the most impressive sight in Sri Lanka. There are colourful, well
preserved paintings and statues of Buddha inside the caves, which date back
to the 1st century BC. After lunch we continue to Sigiriya where we stay for
the night. From our hotel we can see Lions Rock rising up from the plains
(occasionally we may stay nearer to Dambulla due to hotel availability).
*Hotel Sigiriya or alternative accommodation in the area*

Day 3

This morning we drive to the foot of the Lions Rock at Sigiriya. The imposing
5th century rock fortress of Sigiriya rises 600 feet from the plains
overlooking the surrounding countryside and giving far-reaching views. Used
as a safe haven from invaders, the route to the top goes via a series of
steep steps and gangways. From the base, where a moat surrounds impressive
water gardens, we ascend 200m, passing an overhanging rock under which superb
portraits of native maidens holding flowers and temple offerings still adorn
the rock wall. Crowning the flat-topped summit of the rock are extensive
remains of the King’s Summer Palace.
During the afternoon there is a chance to enjoy an optional game drive in
either Minneriya or Kaudulla National Park or the Hurulu Eco Park to see
elephants in their natural habitat. For those who don’t want to take part,
there is time to relax at the hotel.
*Hotel Sigiriya or alternative accommodation in the area*

Day 4

This morning we have a short drive to Giritale where our usual hotel
overlooks the scenic Giritale Tank. The island’s early inhabitants solved
the dual problem of heat and lack of water in this dry area by constructing
large tanks to act as reservoirs and cool the warm breeze. Nowadays they
provide an important habitat for bird life, particularly from August to
April. Today we take to bikes and cycle at a leisurely pace through a series
of small villages and lakes (if you don’t want to cycle you can follow the
group in the support vehicle). We should see plenty of bird life including
Egrets, Brahmany kites, Kingfishers and Bulbuls. Stopping for lunch in a
traditional village will break up the journey. In the late afternoon we
return to our hotel in Giritale.
*Giritale Hotel or alternative accommodation in the area*

Day 5

After breakfast we take a short drive to the 10th century capital of Sri
Lanka; Polonnaruwa, the ancient capital of the Sinhalese. Here there are many
Buddhist relics and ruins dating from a thousand years ago when Sinhalese
culture reached its zenith. The city flourished in the 12th century after the
decision was made to move the capital from Anuradhapura, so it was further
away from incursions from Southern India. The ruins are therefore younger and
better preserved than those at Anuradhapura. We visit many of the temples,
palaces, huge dagobas (Buddhist stupas) and remarkable Buddhist sculptures.
After lunch we head into the hills to the picturesque town of Kandy. On the
way we stop at a spice garden near Matale where we can see various spices and
herbs growing, and there is a chance to stock up on massage oils, spices and
Ayurvedic medicines. This is a long but fascinating day and we arrive at
Kandy in the early evening.
*Hotel Thilanka or alternative accommodation in the area*

Day 6

Kandy is located by a small lake and we spend two full days in and around the
town. On the first day we will visit the Temple of the Tooth, which houses
Sri Lanka’s most important Buddhist relic. The Tooth of Buddha was taken from
the funeral pyre in 543 BC and only found its way to Sri Lanka in the 4th
century AD. There are literally hundreds of worshippers who visit the temple
each day and in August the most spectacular ceremony takes place. Some of our
trips in August should coincide with the Kandy festival, but the exact dates,
decided by priests, are not known until 5 months prior to the event. After
our visit we drive to a beautiful viewpoint over Kandy overlooked by a huge
Buddha, and visit a gem museum where you can see the products of the
traditional methods of gem extraction. Another highlight is the vast
Peradeniya Botanical Garden with species of orchid that are endemic to Sri
Lanka. In the evening we may have the chance to attend a performance of
dancing and fire walking.
The second day is free to explore this wonderful town. The surrounding hills
are wonderful, offering fantastic views of the town below and there are many
handicraft stores and antique shops in which to browse.
*Hotel Thilanka or alternative accommodation in the area*

Day 7

Leaving Kandy early, we have a spectacular drive through the countryside on
the way to Kitulgala. Here we have the opportunity of going on a walk through
the jungle or local villages followed by an optional white water rafting
excursion. The rafting costs extra (see the Optional Excursions section),
lasts a maximum of 1.5 hours and there is a choice of gentle or wild water
(grade 3 rapids) depending on your preference. Those of us who do not wish to
go rafting will be able to freshen up and relax by the water until the
rafters return in time for lunch. Afterwards we will drive to our hotel in
Nuwara Eliya.
(Please note that from the full moon day of December to the full moon day of
May it is possible to climb Adams Peak. This is optional and you need to be
very fit to attempt this. You would leave Nuwara Eliya at 11pm on day 8 and
drive to the base of the peak. From here it is a strenuous 4 hour climb to
the top in time for sunrise. We then return to Nuwara Eliya to join the group
for lunch on day 9).
*Hill Club Hotel or alternative accommodation in the area*

Day 8

This morning we will have free time to explore the beautiful town of Nuwara
Eliya. Nuwara Eliya was a popular hill station during the British era and is
situated in the cool highland air at 1890m. Known locally as ‘Little England’
it is dotted with British style houses and parks and features a golf club and
a racecourse! Following lunch we will visit a nearby tea factory and learn
about the process of tea production.
*Hill Club Hotel or alternative accommodation in the area*

Day 9

We have an early start this morning and take a 30km drive south to Horton
Plains, a large plateau over 2,000m high, overlooked by the second and third
highest peaks in Sri Lanka. The scenery is beautiful and the best way to
explore is on foot. We take a guided walk through the rolling grasslands
where we hope to see such as the Sambur and Purple Faced monkey. We also
visit ‘World’s End’ which is one of the most stunning sights in Sri Lanka
where the ground drops 1050m to the plains. Following this we catch a train
from the highest railway station in the country – within an hour and a half
we drop from 1889m to 1097m. The train travels through the cloud forest into
the tea plantations, with breath-taking views of the lush valley below.
Although the train can be very busy on occasion, this is still a great
experience. We get off at Bandarawela, a town relatively untouched by
tourism.
*Orient Hotel or alternative accommodation in the area*

Day 10

Today we continue on to Ella Gap where we have spectacular views of the
coastal plain nearly 1,000m below. Almost the entire southern part of the
island is in view and on a particularly clear day the shimmering silver of
the Indian Ocean is visible. Heading south out of the hills we travel to
Kataragama on the plains; this is our base for visiting Sri Lanka’s best
known national park, Yala. The park is popular for elephant, leopard, bear,
crocodile and Wild boar. At 97,800 hectares, this is the second largest of
Sri Lanka’s national parks. Its open undulating terrain made it famous for
elephants for many years, but recently the park has also become better known
for leopard. The park, which is primarily shrub jungle with several salt and
fresh water lagoons, has one of the highest concentrations of leopard per
square kilometre in the world. (Please note that the sanctuary may be closed
for 4-6 weeks from September to October allowing the park authorities to
check the welfare of the animals. We therefore go to an alternative area
close by, usually Udawalawe National Park).
*Mandara Rosen or alternative accommodation in the area*

Day 11

Today we leave for the coast, with its beautiful palm fringed bays. Stopping
on the way at Hambantota and walking to a nearby farm house where you be
offered tea in a coconut shell along with a local snack. We will mix with
real Sri Lankan life and take part in some traditional Sri Lankan games,
returning to our bus in tractors used by the farmers. We have the option of
enjoying lunch at one of the houses that we built for Tsunami victims; this
may be one of the best curries of your trip! Continuing on to Ahangama in the
afternoon we arrive at our coastal hotel and you can relax for the rest of
the day.
*Insight Resort or alternative accommodation in the area*

Day 12

Today is a free day to relax on the beach or by the hotel pool. There are
also optional activities during the day including a boat ride through
mangrove swamps to a cinnamon plantation or, from November to April you can
go whale watching off Dondra head, one of the best places in the world for
seeing Blue and Sperm whales. Huge pods of dolphins are also often seen
playing alongside the boats.
*Insight Resort or alternative accommodation in the area*

Day 13

We set off today and drive along the coastal road to the historic port of
Galle, which dates back to the 17th century, and now a UNESCO world heritage
site. On the way we stop at a small folk museum inspired by the local writer
Martin Wickramasinghe. The museum is a typical house from the Koggala region
and is set amongst beautiful gardens. We continue along the expressway to
Colombo reaching our hotel in the late afternoon.

*Hotel Mirage or alternative accommodation in the area*

Day 14

The trip ends after breakfast. Those on the group flights will be taken to
the airport in time for their flight home.
**

Prices & Dates

Date: 2018-09-302018-10-14

Trip code: AIL180930

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Date: 2018-10-072018-10-21

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Date: 2018-10-282018-11-11

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Date: 2018-11-042018-11-18

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Customer Feedback

Discover Sri Lanka review

Summary:
An excellent holiday with so much to see and do.

Rating: 5

Question:
What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

Answer:
There were many inspitational moments but if I had to select one it would be
seeing the procession in Kandy. Excellently arranged by our guide even to
sorting our evening meaL. The fire dancers and highly decorated elephants
were a sight to behold. The drommers and dancers added to the occasion.I will
never forget it.

Question:
What did you think of your group leader?

Answer:
Roshan was superb. He was highly skilled in getting the group to see as much
as possible of his country. He was also quite relaxed letting us have enough
time to see the sights e.g. around the temples and the statues of the Buddha.
His instructions were always clear and explanatory. But most of all he was
fun! An absolute brilliant guide.

Question:
Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

Answer:
Take clothes to cover up but only needed for temples. But dress respectfully
at other times.

Read full review

Discover Sri Lanka review

Summary:
An excellent holiday with so much to see and do.

Rating: 5

Question:
What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

Answer:
There were many inspitational moments but if I had to select one it would be
seeing the procession in Kandy. Excellently arranged by our guide even to
sorting our evening meaL. The fire dancers and highly decorated elephants
were a sight to behold. The drummers and dancers added to the occasion.I will
never forget it.

Question:
What did you think of your group leader?

Answer:
Roshan was superb. He was highly skilled in getting the group to see as much
as possible of his country. He was also quite relaxed letting us have enough
time to see the sights e.g. around the temples and the statues of the Buddha.
His instructions were always clear and explanatory. But most of all he was
fun! An absolute brilliant guide.

Question:
Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

Answer:
Take clothes to cover up but only needed for temples. But dress respectfully
at other times.

Read full review

Fabulous variety and rich culture

Summary:
A very broad tour of the principal cultural and wildlife sights. Fantastic
sights ranging from Buddhist sculptures, tea plantations to leopards and
elephants in their natural habitat. Great food, landscapes and experiences.

Rating: 5

Question:
What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

Answer:
The best moments include visiting the Buddha’s tooth relic in Kandy,
spotting leopards in Yalla National Park and travelling on a packed train
from the Hill country to the valley while viewing stunning scenery through
the (open) train carriage door.

Question:
What did you think of your group leader?

Answer:
Neelaka was consistently upbeat, exceptionally informative about the country
and always on hand to smooth out any issues and enable the tour to get on
with enjoying the country.

Question:
Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

Answer:
Be prepared for the rain and cold In Nuwara Eliya, to eating a lot of
delicious food and to open your eyes to an extremely wide range of scenery,
climate and wildlife.

Question:
Is there anything else you would like to add?

Answer:
We did travel in a large coach, unlike the usual minibuses used on other
Exodus holidays and occasionally this gave the impression that we were on a
coach tour rather than an adventure holiday.
Most hotels were very good and the food in some – especially Sirigaya,
Manders Rosen and Bandarawela was excellent. Some welcome rest time was
built in and we loved lazing around for one whole day at the coast.

Read full review

Sri Lanka Summer 2018

Summary:
In 2 weeks we managed to see most of the main sights in Sri Lanka. It was
going full tilt mostly staying one or two nights in each place. We really
enjoyed all the places that we visited and found them very interesting (apart
from the gem museum which was very dull and boring and high pressure sales).
The accommodation was more luxurious than we expected, having been on tours
with other companies. The nice thing about this was that almost all hotels
had pools and very pleasant surroundings. The downside of this was that they
were often outside the population centres so that you forced to eat there and
had less scope for exploring local towns and villages and using their shops
and restaurants. It also therefore added to the expense of the trip. The
transport was comfortable (coach) and the driver did a really good job in
such adverse and hectic driving conditions.

Rating: 4

Question:
What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

Answer:
Our favourite moment was watching the elephants splashing and playing at the
waterhole at Kaudulla national park. This trip was optional but we all did
it. It was actually a better trip than Yala which is included in the
itinerary. We saw crocodiles there which don’t move (no leopard) and loads of
birds at both but there was more birdlife at Kaudulla.
The most enjoyable activity was walking on Horton Plains, looking at plants,
wildlife and the amazing view.

Question:
What did you think of your group leader?

Answer:
Our group leader was excellent. He went out of his way to explain about the
history and natural history of the island, using his own visual aids! Nothing
was too much trouble and he was constantly looking out for our welfare, from
health and safety to making sure that we were served the drinks we had
ordered.
He also helped us to organise our onward travel at the end of the Exodus
trip.

Question:
Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

Answer:
Sri Lanka is an amazing place full of friendly people but in most places
there are no pavements or streetlights so if you are out after dark, take a
torch and/or flag down a tuk tuk (very cheap).

Not all ATMs will give very much money – some restrict it to less than 40,000
rupees (£200). Hatton National Bank (HNB) will give you up to 200,000 rupees
and charge 200.

Question:
Is there anything else you would like to add?

Answer:
Sri Lanka is a fantastic and varied country and 2 weeks is a very short time
to spend there.

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Experiencing this ‘pearl of the Indian Ocean’

Summary:
In 15 days we enjoyed many varied experiences that enabled us to gain new
insights into this exciting, challenging place.
Our accomodation was mostly very luxurious, the food tasty if somewhat
predictable in hotels; eating food prepared and served by locals in villages
was enjoyable as was playing some traditional village games. Cycling in the
countryside and taking to the water gave us a different perspective again.
July was a great time to travel and we saw very little rain ; the
temperatures on the west coast were high but the hill country pleasantly
cooler – no need for jumpers or coats at all.
Although we missed seeing a leopard at Yala N.P. elephants, warthogs, water
buffalo, spotted deer, monkeys, crocodiles and many different birds made up
for that. We even saw a mongoose.

Rating: 4

Question:
What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

Answer:
Elephants coming right up to our hotel’s electric fence was a highlight.
Walking on Horton’s Plains was special as was exploring the ancient sites
of Polonnaruwa and Sigiriya and watching festivals and ceremonies.

Question:
What did you think of your group leader?

Answer:
We had an excellent guide who gave us relevant detail about the country’s
cultural, political, socio-economic and geographical situation. We felt we
learned much about this fascinating country.
However, the amount of plastic waste littering the country was a cause for
concern.

Question:
Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

Answer:
Go with an open mind but don’t expect to be able to do much walking in
smaller towns or on beaches near Colombo, which are polluted and not always
accessible. Tuk Tuks are the easiest form of transport. Check whether you
need to worry about dengue fever when you travel. We didn’t in July so
could have had more short sleeves and shorts.

Question:
Is there anything else you would like to add?

Answer:
Our group was very cooperative, welcoming and mostly like minded although we
came from 4 different countries.

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Sri Lanka

Summary:
We had a great holiday and were very well looked after by our tour Guide:
Ruwan Balasuriya

Rating: 5

Question:
What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

Answer:
When the elephants swam across the lake and came ashore. They were within a
few metres of the hotel. Absolutely wonderful!

Question:
What did you think of your group leader?

Answer:
Fantastic. He took great care of us and was a wonderful source of information
about all aspects of Sri Lanka

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Amazing Sri Lanka

Summary:
It was amazing to discover this beautiful country. The locals, temples,
scenery, nature, smells… loved it loved it loved it!!

Rating: 5

Question:
What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

Answer:
Climbing Adams Peak, elephant safari.

Question:
What did you think of your group leader?

Answer:
Roshan was THE BEST! So helpful, knowledgeable, kind, funny. It was a
pleasure to spend two weeks with him and his team. Thank you Gamini, Nisha
and Roshan for such an enjoyable trip.

Question:
Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

Answer:
Just enjoy and be open minded.

Question:
Is there anything else you would like to add?

Answer:
No

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AIL 180415

Summary:
Amazing trip around Sri Lanka

Rating: 5

Question:
What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

Answer:
Seeing all the wild animals in the Yala National Park. We even saw a Lepard
with her babies having lunch. It was just amazing!

Question:
What did you think of your group leader?

Answer:
Sujan was a great tour guide. He knows his county by heart, is sharing all
his knowledge (he was even teaching us some local words). He has great humour
and was always there to help if needed.

Question:
Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

Answer:
Bring a lot of sunscreen and insect repellant 🙂
The best is to change your cash at the airport. There are not that many ATM
possibilities during the trip

Question:
Is there anything else you would like to add?

Answer:
This trip is the best trip if you want to discover Sri Lanka in 2 weeks. Most
of the places we’ve visited were full of natives, giving the feeling that we
were not just visiting touristic places. The trip has a great balance between
temples, sportive activities, free & relaxing time. It’s an amazing trip to
meet people from different countries.

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discover sri lanka

Summary:
We had an amazing and enchanting tri to Sri Lanka everything was wonderful.
The hotels, the guide, the food and most of all the beautiful scenery.

Rating: 5

Question:
What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

Answer:
Going on the elephant safari it was just magical

Question:
What did you think of your group leader?

Answer:
Ruwan was a knowledgeable and patient guide and very proud of his country and
was delighted to show us around

Question:
Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

Answer:
Be a Sri Lankan and enjoy yourself as if you were local dont look for western
stuff and you will enjoy yourself. Just muck in!

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Smiling Sri Lanka

Summary:
Smiling people, beautiful scenery, wildlife, culture, history, delicious food
and great company; our trip to Sri Lanka ticked so many boxes and we
absolutely loved it.

Rating: 5

Question:
What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

Answer:
We elected to climb Adam’s Peak. This was a highlight for me. It was
physically challenging, with beautiful views from the top, but to see all of
the pilgrims making their way up and down, many of them quite elderly and
infirm, was so inspiring.

Question:
What did you think of your group leader?

Answer:
Roshan was the perfect guide. He was friendly, knowledgeable, informative,
patient, helpful, funny and entertaining, He really added enormously to our
trip and we were very grateful for his services.

Question:
Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

Answer:
Travellers need to know that even more expensive items need to be paid for in
rupees. I had expected to be able to pay for these items (eg rafting and
whale watching) by credit card but this was not the case. Had we known this
in advance we would have changed a lot more money at the airport.

Question:
Is there anything else you would like to add?

Answer:
No great trip. We will definitely be travelling with Exodus again.

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Activity Levels


Activity Levels range from Leisurely to Tough, the grading takes into account the daily cycling distances and terrain, as well as any technical riding skill required. We also consider the number of cycling days as there can be a cumulative affect from tiredness on a longer trip and the type of accommodation used, as this can also influence your day to day recovery.

If you are in any doubt, please give us a call on +353-1-607 9900 or email us.


Activity level 1 - Leisurely Activity level 1: Leisurely

If you can ride a bike and enjoy gentle exercise, these are an ideal introduction to a cycling holiday. No routes are entirely flat, so expect some short climbs and descents. Maximum daily height gain is approximately 250 metres and daily distances rarely exceed 50kms (32 miles), any longer days are often optional.


Activity level 3 - Moderate Activity level 3: Moderate

Most people who enjoy a weekend riding at home will enjoy a Moderate trip. You need to be in good health and reasonably fit. Ideal for occasional cyclists, or as a more relaxed trip for fitter riders. Moderate off-road trips require no previous experience. Distances rarely exceed 70kms (43 miles) per day.


Activity level 5 - Challenging Activity level 5: Challenging

For any ride at this level, fitness is important. Challenging trips require confidence in your ability and physical condition. They are equivalent to an extended period of cycling at home. Previous mountain biking experience is essential for Challenging off road trips as they will involve some technical riding.


Activity level 7 - Tough Activity level 7: Tough

Previous experience of the cycling style or surface is a must as these routes have long cycling days and tougher terrain on both road and off road trips. You need complete confidence in your fitness and technical ability to cope with difficult or steep terrain, rough surfaces and longer distances. Ideal for those seeking a challenge!


Split grades

In order to provide more accuracy, where a trip falls between two grades we use an intermediate or ‘split’ grade, for example 2: Leisurely/Moderate.


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