La Palma

By | 16th January 2018

Should you rent a car in La Palma?

Do you need a car in La Palma > Should you rent a car in La Palma Spain > La Palma ( SPC ) Do you need a car in La Palma? Is it worth hiring a car in La Palma? Should you rent a car in La Palma?

La Palma Car hire summary

Overall drive rating

Based on a weighted score across all cost and quality factors. [Full notes - drive rating]


  • Price alone isn't the only factor in determining whether or not it's worth hiring a car in La Palma but clearly it's an important one. See our "why" section for more figures.
  • Cost factors include - price of car hire (peak and off peak season), car hire extras, fuel, tolls and parking costs.
  • Quality factors include - scenic drives, road quality and upkeep, general safety and congestion levels.
  • A complete index of all 10 factors will be uploaded shortly.

Cheapest rate for one week

Based on cheapest economy car hire deal with no added extras. [full notes - basic costs]



  • This is the very lowest price we could find for a one week car rental period in La Palma during the quiet season.
  • You will almost always end up paying more than this figure, but any extra costs or supplementary charges are usually determined by the renter, so we cannot easily compare like with like.
  • In many cases, rental companies will offer a cheap rental and then expect you to take out expensive insurance waivers. There are always ways to avoid this!

How much should I expect to pay in the peak season?

Based on cheapest deal during the summer holiday season. (Unless otherwise noted) [full notes - seasonal variations]



  • During the peak holiday season, public transport is often better value, as many train and bus fares are fixed throughout the year. See our "why not" section for more suggestions.
  • For most featured destinations, the peak season will be during the summer, typically July and August for northern hemisphere destinations. However, peak demand might occur at different times, for example in some ski resorts or winter sun destinations etc.

Free parking score

Based on the number of hotels which offer free parking. Total 83 - of which 24 have free parking. [full notes - parking]



  • Free hotel parking is very useful to have when you are hiring a car, and it's always worth checking ahead beforehand.
  • If free hotel parking is not available, you might want to consider renting a car for a single day, rather than for your whole trip.
  • The availability (or lack of) free hotel parking can be a really important factor in determining whether or not it's worth hiring a car in La Palma, as it can be a significant extra daily cost which you won't usually be paying at home!
  • Parking costs play a very major part in our consideration of whether or not it's worth hiring a car in each destination.
  • By using public transport, walking or hiring a bicycle, you can avoid having to worry about parking charges altogether! See our "why not" section for more suggestions.

La Palma public transport quick facts

Train score

Higher scores go to the systems which don't just take you to the most amazing places, but also to the ones which are easy to use, fast, reliable and frequent. A good train system on its own is usually enough to determine that you don't need to hire a car in many destinations.


  • [full notes trains]
  • Trains include all kinds of urban rail system from trams up to metro and suburban networks.
  • Trains also include mountain railways and cable cars.
  • Generally, places with a good rail network will automatically mean that you don't "need" to hire a car, but you can still might find that on balance you are better off by having one.

Water travel score

This is a general rating for all types of water travel, including scheduled ferries, sea / rivers cruises and excursions in La Palma


  • [full notes - water score]
  • The water score looks at means of transport on water - it does not consider water based activities like surfing or kayaking.

Overall public transport score

This is a more practical rating based on bus and rail travel, and also including ferries and other boat services, where they are part of the public transport network.


  • [full notes - overall transit] buses | trams | metro | local & regional rail | national rail
  • Is public transport in La Palma good value, or is it worth hiring a car just because it is cheaper overall?
  • Even if public transport is cheap and reliable, you might still feel that you should hire a car in La Palma because it will still give you more flexibility to reach out-of-the-way places, especially in rural areas.

Walking and Cycling Overview

Active travel score

This overall rating considers walking and cycling in and around La Palma. It includes factors such as the quality of the street environment, and whether you are likely to feel safe walking or cycling, together with the availability of bicycle hire and the ease of linking walking or cycling routes with public transport.


  • [full notes - active score] walking (city) | hiking | cycling (city /  country).
  • A high active travel score means that you might not need a car in La Palma, because you can see everything you need to see using a combination of your own two feet and the public transport system.

Car rental in - La Palma Need v worth & should!

Whether you have come here asking "do I need a car in La Palma", "is it worth hiring a car in La Palma", or whether or not you "should" hire a car here, these are all slight variations on a similar theme. Here we break each one down according to the criteria we use for each question. This is a weighted score based on the values above. These are explained further in the text which follows - [#why] [#whynot]. Do you need a car in La Palma?

Do you need a car in La Palma?

This is essentially based on whether or not public transport and other "non car" options are good enough to get around and beyond the city. For the lowest "need" score, the destination should have a combination of excellent all-round public transport, great opportunities for walking and cycling, together with poor value car hire or generally poor quality roads. 
  • In destinations where both public transport and car hire options are excellent, the verdict for "do I need a car in  La Palma " will swing towards a strong no, because you can do absolutely fine without one).
Is it worth hiring a car in La Palma?

Is it worth hiring a car in La Palma?

Is car hire good value, especially during the peak season? How does this compare with transit fares? This question mainly looks at issues of cost and practicality.
  • In destinations where both public transport and car hire options are excellent, the verdict for "is it worth hiring a car in  La Palma" will swing towards whichever option offers the lowest overall cost for a group of 2-4 people travelling together.
Should you rent a car in La Palma?

Should you rent a car in La Palma?

Weighing up the above questions, if you are here for the first time AND asking about hiring a car, is it a good idea?
  • The final "carometer" swing is much more opinion based, and it takes into account which options will give you the truly best travel experience (n our humble opinion of course). Where a destination offers an excellent score with or without a car, the swing will go towards whichever option we feel gives the most truly unforgettable experience.
  • Ultimately, it's your choice whether or not you rent a car here. We're trying to give you something that's sufficiently far enough away from a "maybe" to help you make that choice. Ultimately, people only come to us because they are uncertain, but we don't really know what each person's preferences are. Whether we say you should or you shouldn't rent a car in  La Palma, you might also want to look up some of our other cities to see how  La Palma compares with other destinations in  Spain or  Europe.
  • By using public transport, walking or hiring a bicycle, you can avoid having to worry about parking charges altogether! See our "why not" section for more suggestions.

What does everyone else do?

Do most people hire a car in La Palma?

This is based on our observations of (a) car rental facilities and (b) what we think most people will do here. It's not an exact figure, just an estimate of how likely people are to get hold of a rental car here.
  • his is based on the percentage of people "in the market" who we think are likely to hire a car. This includes anyone arriving on holiday here who would usually hire a car on their travels, so it doesn't include people who don't usually drive (or don't drive), people staying with friends etc.


Visitors per year (million)

  • Cities with more visitors are more likely to have more complex airport car rental arrangements, and generally they will also have better public transport, but this is not always the case, especially in North America.


  • [full notes - do as everyone else does?]
  • You may wish to go with the flow, or you might prefer to avoid doing the most popular or obvious option. This will vary according to the range of choice available. This tends to be much higher in destinations which are closer to the middle of the car or no car scale.

Who is travelling?

Your group size and travel budget has a major impact on whether or not getting a rental car is good value compared to using public transport as your main means of getting around. Ultimately, these are all "worth" questions:

Is it worth renting a car in La Palma if I am a solo / budget traveller?

Generally, hiring a car is not good value for solo travellers for multiple reasons, especially as most of the costs of renting apply to the car, not the occupants. With public transport, the reverse is usually true! However, there are always some places where you will need a car, simply because they are almost impossible to reach using public transport.

Is it worth renting a car in La Palma for 2 people travelling together?

A rental car can be good value for couples or for friends travelling together, but since most cars come with at least four seats, it's often still better value to use public transport. However, if you prefer to keep yourselves to yourselves, then you might still want to rent.

Is it worth renting a car in La Palma for families?

Families of groups of 3-4 people travelling together will always get the best value from a rental car. However, you may also be burdened with extra costs for car seat hire, and you well also prefer to use local trains and buses, if they are quicker than getting stuck in heavy traffic.

Where are you staying?

The place you are staying, together with the sort of places you want to see, will have a large impact on whether or not you "need" to rent a car:

Do you need a car in La Palma if we are staying in the city centre / main resort area?

Most large towns or purpose built holiday resorts will have some kind of public transport, whereas parking provision will vary greatly from one place to the next. 

Do you need a car in La Palma if we are staying on the edge of the urban area?

Typically you may be staying in an apartment or hmall house on the edge of a resort or urban area. These places usually have some level of public transport, but not as much as city / resort centres.

Do you need a car in La Palma if we are staying in a rural area?

Rural proprties might include larger villas or apartments, but they can still be within a short walk of a bus stop or local railway station, and the opportunities for hiking and cycling might also be substantial, depending on the destination.

What is your attitude towards driving?

We can give you suggestions based on whatever we consider to be a "typical" visitor to La Palma, but ultimately your decision is also going to be influenced by whether or not you ususally prefer to hire a car in the first place.

Should I hire a car in La Palma if I prefer not to drive?

This is especially the case when there is only one main driver in the group, and it's based on the attitude of the driver rather than their passengers! The main driver may also simply prefer to use public transport, or they may prefer to take scenic train journeys where available.

Should we rent a car in La Palma if we are easy either way?

This is more aimed at the typical visitor who isn't that bothered about how they get around, as long as it is the most convenient / best value option.

Should I rent a car in La Palma if I prefer to drive?

For people who usually prefer the freedom and flexibility of having a hire car. Is it still best to rent a car in La Palma, or are there good reasons not to?

First things first – the island of La Palma, and the city of Santa Cruz de la Palma should not be confused with Las Palmas de Gran Canaria or Palma, Mallorca, or even with the much larger Santa Cruz de Tenerife for that matter! We are talking here about whether or not you should hire a car on the much smaller Canary Island of La Palma, the most westerly of all the islands in the group to still have flight links with mainland Europe.

Do you need a car in ? Introduction

When someone asks "Do you need a car in ?", this often breaks down to two key questions:

  1. Can you actually get around using public transport, or is a car all but essential?
  2. Is it worth hiring a car in ? Is it good value for money, compared with non-car options?

Over the next few sections, we wil look at the pros and cons of driving in as a tourist, and ultimately weigh these up, so we can answer the key question of Should you rent a car in ?

Why? Why not? Ratings Comments

Should I hire a car in La Palma?

Driving a rental car in La Palma

Generally, the most visited holiday islands in the Canaries are places where a hire car can be extremely useful, because the islands are all just large enough for driving to be notably more convenient than using public transport, and also because there are no fixed rail services anywhere in the region. However, in the case of the island of La Palma, although a hire car here is still popular with many visitors, for anyone who isn’t sure, it’s certainly worth a rethink, especially as the island of La Palma is notably smaller than other islands such as Tenerife.

Why should you rent a car in La Palma?

What are the main reasons for hiring a car here? Do you just want to drive locally? Do you want to go further afield, or should you even look at taking a road trip? In terms of factors like the cost of the hire itself, fuel costs, road tolls and parking charges, is it worth hiring a car in La Palma?
  • La Palma car hire is still reasonable value by European standards – but it’s not as cheap as other Canary Islands, as there’s less competition.
  • A hire car still provides flexibility, especially if you are doing your own walking tours.
  • Although the island is small, distances can still be deceptive – with many narrow, winding roads, it can still take two hours to drive between some places on the island.
  • Buses are hit and miss – most of the time you won’t have any problems, but connections are well timed, and sometimes buses run late or aren’t able to stop (see below).

Why not? Visiting La Palma without a car

What is public transport like in La Palma? What about local conditions for walking or cycling? Can you rely on public transport and maybe a few taxis for most or all of your trip? Are there some times of year when it's easier to get by without a car than others? When should you rent a car in 3?
  • La Palma offers abundant hiking opportunities – walks can be easily combined with local buses (guaguas).
  • Car hire on La Palma is not as competitive as the other main Canary Islands.
  • The island is small, so you can get caught out if you overfill your car before returning it.
  • La Palma is an ideal place for cycling, which is more suited to the roads.

So should I hire a car in La Palma? On balance, our La Palma car advice is that this is a destination where it is certainly worth doing a little bit more local research before committing to a booking, and where you can certainly have no problem getting around without a rental car.

James says - a few trip notes:

The forests on La Palma tend to be evergreen, often covered with Canary Island palms, so there is usually plenty of shade year-round, and there is usually enough of a cool breeze on the hillsides to mitigate the searing temperatures which might be found out in the open.

Even if you’d still rather explore the island in a car, this might well make more sense to do just for a day or two, although this will of course depend on where you are staying, and what sort of car rental contract is on offer. As with the rest of Spain, many of the cheapest La Palma car hire deals tend to be on a full to empty basis, and this can result in a substantial extra hidden cost if you only use a small amount of fuel and return the car with a near full tank, but have to pay for a full tank regardless.

I have just come back from La Palma (December 2017), and I really felt that the Caldera (de Taburiente National Park) was one of the most impressive landscapes that I have visited anywhere. If truth be told, I was a little disappointed with the buses on La Palma – it woudl be easy to say that I had a couple of bad experiences, but other people I was travelling with also warned of their own problems. Having said this, this generally revoled around trying to get the final bus of the day, or an evening connection. I’m still sticking with the overall verdict that you don’t need to hire a car in La Palma, but let’s just say this is a lot more marginal than when I first looked at the island. When it comes to the caldera, this really is somewhere you have to walk anyway – and if you take a taxi to the top, you can then take the amazing path all the way down to the visitor’s centre.


Should I hire a car in La Palma if …..

Luxury travellers / mid-high budget

Probably –if instead you did end up taking a series of taxi journeys around the island, you would probably use the same driver for many of them, and this could be useful in terms of getting to know the island a lot better than you might if you were simply relying on directions from a map or a satnav. Another potential advantage of using taxis over a self drive hire car is that in some smaller towns and villages, it can be quite difficult to find a parking space.

However, the chances are that you will probably still prefer the flexibility of exploring at your own pace to being driven everywhere by someone else, so even if any question of cost is put to one side, getting a hire car in La Palma is still a better option.

Young drivers

No – anyone who wants to hire a car in Spain but is aged 25 or less can expect to pay a considerable premium for doing so. When the extra daily cost of car rental for young drivers is compared with the astonishingly cheap cost of bus travel, based on price alone, it’s really not worth hiring a car in La Palma for anyone aged 25 or less.

Budget travellers

Probably not – although this is the sort of destination where it can be extremely useful to have the freedom and flexibility of a rental car, you really don’t actually need to hire a car in La Palma if you are happy to apply a little patience. Based on costs alone, you will find that it’s considerably cheaper to get around the island by bus than it is to travel around in a rental car, even if you also make a few taxi journeys.

Another factor to consider is that if you hire the very cheapest budget car, you’ll find it really struggles up the hills, as the terrain here is amongst the steepest in the world.


Yes, for families it will generally make sense to get a rental car, if largely for the convenience of having everyone travelling together, instead of having to wait around for buses. However, it’s always worth bearing in mind that taxis in La Palma are very cheap as well, so if you are only going to make a relatively small number of journeys, or if you are staying somewhere that is close to a decent bus route, then you might still find that you don’t need a hire car in La Palma.

How many people


Because the buses in La Palma are so astonishingly cheap, and because taxis are also reasonable value, it’s unlikely that you will get better value from a rental car based on price alone if there are just two of you travelling together. Even for 3 or 4 people travelling together, the total cost of using buses and the occasional taxi will probably still be less than using a hire car.


Prefer to drive

Yes – absolutely, if you generally prefer driving, then you really should rent a car in La Palma, because this is the sort of place where you will love the experience of the amazing driving roads.

Prefer not to drive

No – if you generally prefer to use public transport or if you like to cover a lot of distance on foot or by bicycle, then you’ll do absolutely fine without a car in La Palma.

“Transit geek”

There is no railway of any kind in La Palma, but given that the island is so close to Tenerife, then it would be easy enough to combine a visit to La Palma with a visit to Tenerife, which does at least have a spectacular cable car system on Mount Teide, together with trams in Santa Cruz. Travelling between the two islands by ferry is also quite an experience in itself, and you can usually include a whole day in La Gomera on top.

Car fanatic

Yes, absolutely! La Palma really does offer some truly amazing driving roads, and you will want to appreciate as many of them as you can! The only thing that we would suggest is that even though you will absolutely love driving here, and even though you’ll see many truly spectacular landscapes from the road, we would still recommend allowing enough time to actually get out of the car and do a small amount of walking. For example, if you do get a permit to drive to the top of La Cumbrecita, you should still allow a couple of hours to walk the circuit at the top and to fully appreciate this truly amazing volcanic landscape.


Probably – If you are generally neutral about whether you prefer driving a rental car over other options, or if you simply want to do what you feel will be most convenient, rather than necessarily the cheapest option, then on balance, you probably should hire a car in La Palma, although this is the kind of destination where this is quite a marginal decision.

I want to cycle or explore on foot

On foot

No – in many ways, La Palma really is a walker’s paradise, with some truly stunning walking trails offering access to landscapes which are completely unique, whilst enjoying a climate which is usually mild year-round.

However, despite the island offering so many off-road paths, getting to and from the best areas for walking can at times be something of a nightmare! Before setting off on a particular route, always check whether or not you are likely to return to the same place, or if there are alternative paths which will bring you back somewhere different. Needless to say, if you want to walk along a route which ends up somewhere completely different to your start point, then you will be much better off using buses and taxis to get your start and end points, rather than a hire car.

However, personal experience has shown that using the buses can still be problematic – bus stops aren’t always clearly labelled, and even if you have an updated timetable, there is no way of getting real-time running information. In some cases, getting to the right bus stop can mean having to cross a dangerous highway, whereas in other locations it isn’t unheard of for the bus to simply go past and be unable to stop because it’s already full.

Even if you plan to return by bus, always have the number of a local taxi provide a handy – these are sometimes available from local taxi stands, but don’t rely on it. If you aren’t able to call a taxi, or if you aren’t able to get mobile phone reception, then you’ll find it very hard to hail a taxi by the roadside.

If all of the above sounds like too much hassle, or if you think that these are just reasons why you should really just hire a car in La Palma, then bear in mind that any hassles involved with trying to take a bus or taxi are really just worst-case scenarios. In most cases, you’ll be absolutely fine, and if you ask locally about any particular places you are planning on visiting, then you should still find that you can do a great deal of walking in various parts of the island, and that you can still visit La Palma without a car and without having any major problems.

In terms of value, you might ask – is it worth hiring a car in La Palma if you are going to spend most of the day walking, and the car is just going to be parked?

If this is the case, then the answer might well be no, especially because if you are planning on doing longer walks anyway, then it should be easy enough to tie in your walking route to a bus stop at each end of your route. Even if you need to take taxis for some of the time, you will probably still spend less than you would on a hire car, especially as it’s nothing like as competitive here as it is on larger island like Tenerife.


La Palma is extremely popular with road cyclists, who love to explore the truly spectacular landscape of the island. However, in some locations, you will still want to park your bicycle and walk in order to access certain parts which aren’t suitable for cycling.

Although you can cycle on the access road to La Cumbrecita, it’s very narrow, and even though drivers are unlikely to harass you, it can still be daunting. You cannot cycle around the paths at the top – these are for walking only.

There aren’t any facilities for transporting bikes on public transport, but many of the local taxis use people carriers or minivans, so you can still move your bike around the island this way.

Bicycle hire locations on La Palma are relatively limited, but you should still be able to get hold of a bike in either Santa Cruz or Los Llanos.



Probably not – La Palma really is the kind of destination that is much more oriented towards impressive landscapes than it is towards buildings of architectural note. Having said that, the island still has no shortage of attractive towns and villages, and in most cases the architecture really compliments the landscape.

You really don’t need to hire a car in La Palma if your main interest is in visiting small towns and villages, because everywhere is connected by bus, and if you have a particular place in mind that you want to visit for a short period of time, you can always get off one bus and then get on to another bus reasonably soon afterwards. In comparison with an island like Madeira, where even some of the trunk island bus routes only operate 3 to 4 times per day, you should find that in many parts of La Palma, the buses operate on 1/2 hourly or an hourly service.

Needless to say, if you prefer the flexibility to stop and start at your own pace, then you probably still should hire a car in La Palma, as you’ll still find that this is a more convenient option than taking the bus, even if parking can sometimes be a problem.


Probably – if your main interest is in visiting many different landscapes, rather than spending time walking around one area, then you probably should hire a car in La Palma. You should still bear in mind that there are numerous locations where your rental car is only going to get you near to the best spot, and that you will still need to walk to reach the most impressive views.


Price variations

The price of hiring a car in La Palma is actually relatively constant throughout the year. This doesn’t mean that there aren’t any fluctuations at all – far from it – but we have simply found that the difference between the highest and the lowest prices for a weeks La Palma car-rental is just an increase of 50%.

This is in stark contrast to other Spanish destinations like Malaga or Alicante, where the most expensive weeks for car-rental can cost as much as 8 times more as the cheapest ones.

However, because the Canary Islands have an attractively mild year-round climate, there isn’t the same kind of spike in demand during the summer season here that there is in mainland Spain.

Daily/weekly fluctuations

You are unlikely to find any significant variations from one day of the week to the next, especially because the Canary Islands aren’t really popular weekend break destinations, given the length of flying time from mainland Europe. However, car-rental prices can still be affected by very local variations in demand. Most of the flights into La Palma are interisland services, but if you are arriving at the same time as a load of other travellers from northern Europe, then in effect, you will be competing for the same rental car availability, and this could push prices up slightly. Generally, it’s going to make more sense to book your La Palma rental car well in advance, but there can still be some good last-minute deals available.

Partial rental

Should I hire a car in La Palma for some of my stay?

Renting a car in La Palma for some of your stay might make sense if you have easy access to a location where you can either drop off or pick up a car midway through your holiday. There are various car rental providers with offices throughout the island, but they might not be so keen on allowing one-way rentals.

However, if you are staying on the eastern side of the island, then it would be easy enough to pick up a rental car in the airport when you arrive and then to drop it off back at the airport (or vice versa) and then simply to go everywhere else by bus or taxi.

Since average or typical car-rental prices on La Palma are generally a bit higher than they are on other islands in the Canaries, and since bus travel here is so ridiculously cheap, you could well make quite a substantial saving if you only rent a car for a day or two, and then use public transport for the rest of your stay.

Where are you staying / visiting?

Downtown (Santa Cruz?)

La Palma is slightly different to the other islands in the Canaries in that isn’t completely dominated by a single town. Although the capital is Santa Cruz, and although this is where you will find the main port and bus station, the town of Los Llanos on the western side of the island is actually slightly larger, whereas other locations such as El Paso also have a significant number of local facilities.

If you are staying in any major town centre on the island, then you probably won’t need to hire a car for your stay in La Palma, and you might also find that it is a slight inconvenience in terms of parking. However, you may also still find that travelling by bus can be inconvenient and disjointed, although this is much less likely to be the case if you are staying in Santa Cruz, since this is where most of the bus services congregate.

Outside main town/resorts

If you are staying anywhere outside the main urban centres on La Palma, then you will almost certainly find that you will need a car in La Palma.

Touring around

Should I hire a car in La Palma for touring around?

La Palma isn’t really suitable for touring around and staying in different places from one day to the next, simply because the island is too small to really make it worthwhile.

Touring around can only really be considered as part of a visit to multiple islands in the Canaries, rather than just La Palma. The nearest major island to La Palma is Tenerife, which can easily be reached by boat or plane, and you can also travel to Tenerife via La Gomera by ferry.

Generally, travelling between the Canary Islands is much easier to do without a hire car. This is largely because as a foot passenger, or simply as a passenger without a car, you have the choice between flying or taking the ferry, but also because you can expect to pay less for any ferry tickets, and you won’t get stung by car-rental ferry supplements.

Another key reason why it’s best to tour around without a car is that you can visit the islands in any sequence you want without having to return back to La Palma to drop off a rental car. You could, for example travel first to Tenerife and then on to Gran Canaria and then fly home from there, or you could also continue to Lanzarote via Fuerteventura. By travelling around between the islands, you can also mix and match in terms of finding the best flight deals back to mainland Europe. You will always be able to rent a car locally as you go if you need to.


Our slider ratings range from 0 (it isn't even possible to hire a car, e.g. Hong Kong) through to 10 (you really must rent a car here, e.g. Phoenix, Tampa). However, most places are somewhere inbetween these extremes, and this is where it gets more interesting! Further ratings breakdowns, including a much more detailed public transport rating, are currently being added. If you have any questions or comments, please leave them below.


What is our final score for La Palma on the Carornocar scale?

Remember, this isn't so much a rating of the road network, or a score for what we think of the buses or trains, but it's simply a scale showing the swing between whether or not we think a rental car is a good idea here.


Would you hire a car in La Palma?

Have you driven in La Palma? Do you agree with our advice on whether or not it's worth hiring a car in La Palma}? Do you need a car in La Palma? For some or all of the time? Tell us what you think using the comments section below:

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