17 days

Grand Galapagos

Grand Galapagos

Frigatebird spotting

UNESCO World Heritage-listed Colonial Quito

The tortoises of Charles Darwin Research Station

Puerto Ayora

Sullivan Bay's black lava field

Post Office Bay on Floreana

Snorkelling in the volcanic cone of Devil’s Crown

Sombrero Chino

Bartolome's lunar-like landscape

Trip rating
  • As we fly from Quito to the Galapagos Islands, located in the equatorial water of the Pacific Ocean, we suddenly find ourselves in a very different world. As we board our vessel, M.C Queen Beatriz, and follow in the footsteps of Charles Darwin, we start to encounter nature at its finest.  Explore the islands from on deck, on foot and in the water, no doubt with your eyes open for your next unique sight. We encounter giant Galapagos tortoises, blue-footed and masked boobies, pelicans and frigate birds, as well as land and marine iguanas, sea lions, fur seals and perhaps dolphins, whales and sea turtles – the Galapagos contains a myriad of fascinating wildlife. Because of the extreme isolation of the islands, nearly a quarter of all species are endemic and much of the wildlife has no instinctive fear of man, allowing you to observe nature in its full glory. This 17-day program is the ultimate Galapagos exploration and our most comprehensive voyage. It includes the volcanic wonders of Isabela Island and offers the best opportunities to encounter the magnificent flora and fauna that make the Galapagos unique.

    Why we love it

    • As you fly from Quito to the Galapagos Islands, located in the equatorial water of the Pacific Ocean, you will suddenly find yourself in a very different world.
    • As you board your vessel, M.C Queen Beatriz, and follow in the footsteps of Charles Darwin, you will encounter nature at its finest.
    • Explore the islands from on deck, on foot and in the water, no doubt with your eyes open for your next unique sight.
    • You'll encounter giant Galapagos tortoises, blue-footed and masked boobies, pelicans and frigate birds, as well as land and marine iguanas, sea lions, fur seals and perhaps dolphins, whales and sea turtles.
    • Because of the extreme isolation of the islands, nearly a quarter of all species are endemic and much of the wildlife has no instinctive fear of man, allowing you to observe nature in its full glory.
    • This 17-day program is the ultimate Galapagos exploration and our most comprehensive voyage.
    • It includes the volcanic wonders of Isabela Island and offers the best opportunities to encounter the magnificent flora and fauna that make the Galapagos unique.

    Itinerary

    Day 1 - Quito

    • On arrival at Quito's Mariscal Sucre International Airport you will be met and transferred to your hotel. The remainder of the day will be at your leisure.
    • Quito sits at high altitude under the towering Pichincha volcano. It is a beautiful city, arguably one of the most beautiful in South America. The city stretches along the valley and is surrounded by the Andes. The Old Town of Quito is awash with history, with more than 30 churches to explore, and a number of fascinating museums. La Compania de Jesus is considered to be the most beautiful and ornate churches in the Americas. The city's oldest street, Calle La Ronda, is well worth exploring.
    • As this trip spends very little time in Quito, we recommend you spend a few extra days before or after your trip to experience all the city has to offer. You may even wish to explore further beyond the city and visit Otavalo, Cotopaxi, the Cloud Forest or the Equatorial Monument. Please ask our local representative for more details.
    • There is a Welcome Meeting in the evening at 6 pm when you meet others travelling with you on your cruise to the Galapagos Islands. You can arrive at any time as there are no activities planned until this important meeting. Please look for a note in the hotel lobby or ask the hotel reception where the meeting will take place.
    • If you can't arrange a flight that will arrive in time, you may wish to arrive a day early so you're able to attend. We'll be happy to book additional accommodation for you (subject to availability).
    • ALTITUDE SICKNESS:
    • Quito is located at 2800 metres (9350 feet) above sea level, where it is common for travellers to experience some adverse health effects due to the altitude (dizziness, insomnia and a shortness of breath) - regardless of your age, gender and fitness. It even happened to Sir Edmund Hillary! At this altitude you may experience some of the milder effects of altitude sickness, such as dizziness, insomnia and a shortness of breath. We recommend you follow the following procedures and avoid any strenuous activity on arrival.
    • Before your trip: some pre-existing medical conditions are known to severely worsen at high altitude and be difficult to adequately treat on the ground, leading to more serious consequences. It is imperative that you discuss your pre-existing medical condition(s) with your doctor. We understand certain medications are reported to aid acclimatising to high altitude. Please discuss these options with your doctor.
    • On arrival in Quito: while our local representatives and hotel staff are aware of the closest medical facilities, it is very important that you are aware of the cause and effects of travelling at altitude, monitor your health and seek assistance accordingly. Please read the following document carefully and, during your trip, utilise the table on the back daily to record your own perspective of your general health and any symptoms you may experience:
    • http://www.peregrineadventures.com/ams

    Day 2 - Baltra - Punta Carrión

    • This morning you will be transferred to the airport for your flight to the Galapagos Islands. Please note the pick-up time will usually be as early as 4:30 am (a boxed breakfast will be provided), as the airport is a one-hour drive away and you must allow for delays and check-in times. (Your tour leader will confirm this time with you at the Welcome Meeting on Day 1).
    • On arrival at Baltra Airport in the Galapagos you must pay the US$110 arrival tax for entry to Galapagos National Park (national park entry fee: US$100; Galapagos transit fee: US$10 transit fee). Please have cash on hand for these transactions as credit cards are not accepted.
    • You will be met in the arrival hall of the airport (look out for 'Queen Beatriz' signs) by a transfer guide and transferred to our catamaran - ‘M.C. Queen Beatriz’, anchored on the other side of Santa Cruz Island. Our transfer guide will take you on an airport public bus for a short distance (5 minute drive) to where you board a public ferry across the Itabaca Channel. The ferry crossing takes only 7 minutes. (Please note that all public transportation costs are included). Once you reach Santa Cruz Island, a private bus you board a private bus for a 45-minute drive to Puerto Ayora, the main port of the island. Here, there will be two dinghies to transport you and your fellow travellers to the 'MC. Queen Beatriz'. Once on board, cabins will be assigned and you get to meet our crew members and get to know your naturalist guide while enjoying a delicious lunch.
    • Your first stop in the afternoon will be Punta Carrión, located in north-eastern Santa Cruz. This is a shallow and protected cove, ideal for your first snorkel and swim in the Galapagos! From a boat ride, wildlife is plentiful - keep your eyes peeled for blue-footed boobies, Galapagos herons, great blue herons and underwater swim among rays and white-tipped reef sharks.
    Breakfast | Lunch | Dinner

    Day 3 - Isla Isabela - Las Tintoreras - Giant Tortoise Breeding Centre

    • Today you will wake up on the south Coast of Isla Isabela (Isabela Island), the largest of the Galapagos Archipelago. Isabela was formed by five giant volcanic craters, all of which are still considered active. The island is located in one of the youngest geological areas in the world, having been formed less than 1 million years ago.
    • This southern coast of turquoise blue waters has the largest area of beaches in the Galapagos. You will visit Las Tintoreras, where from the viewing walkway you can look down into this narrow channel to see a colony of white-tipped reef sharks swimming and sleeping, and the occasional playful sea lion among them!
    • Blue-footed boobies and penguins, marine iguanas and crabs also make their home here, and the waters provide further opportunities to swim with turtles.
    • Enjoy a nice long walk on a gravel path through ‘Ahh-ahh’ lava flow and see plenty of marine iguanas. The natives of the islands call white sharks 'tintoreras', hence the name of this spectacular site.
    • Please note that there's a US$5 fee to be paid upon landing on Isabela Island.
    • Visit the Arnoldo Tupiza Tortoise Breeding Centre. Here you can see the five sub-species of giant tortoises from Isabela Island, some of which are bred in captivity.
    Breakfast | Lunch | Dinner

    Day 4 - Isla Floreana - Post Office Bay - Devil's Crown - Punta Cormorant

    • The island of Floreana is a highlight of any Galapagos cruise, rich in natural wonders and wildlife. You will go ashore at Punta Cormorant where the sand is made up of fine olivine crystals, a glassy volcanic mineral, giving the beach an olive-green colour. It is the best place to see Galapagos sea lions.
    • Today is also one of your finest opportunities to see pink flamingos and other water birds wading in the lagoons, including pintails and stilts. Just offshore, the Devil’s Crown is an old eroded volcanic cone and a popular roosting site for seabirds such as boobies, pelicans and frigates. Red-billed tropicbirds can also be seen nesting in the rocky crevices.
    • The centre of the cone is an outstanding snorkelling spot, perhaps the most remarkable in the entire archipelago, full of sea lions and colourful fish. Floreana is also home to Post Office Bay, where 18th century whalers used a barrel as an unofficial mail drop. This custom continues to this day with visitors to the Galapagos – post one of your own, or see if there are any you could deliver back home!
    Breakfast | Lunch | Dinner

    Day 5 - Isla Santa Cruz - Charles Darwin Station - Santa Cruz Highlands

    • Today you will visit Santa Cruz, the second largest island in the Galapagos. The small town of Puerto Ayora is the economic centre of the archipelago, and home to the Charles Darwin Research Station. As well as undertaking vital conservation work, the station also makes for interesting exploration and offers the best opportunities for close encounters with giant tortoises. You will also observe baby tortoises and land iguanas.
    • Afterward you will head up into the highlands for a total change of scenery. Beginning at the coast you'll travel across Santa Cruz through the agricultural region and into the misty forests. This is a lush humid zone containing miconia bushes, scalesia and inactive volcanic cones. Santa Cruz has more endemic plants than any of the other islands and you are likely to see Galapagos giant tortoises in their natural habitat and perhaps even the bright red feathers of a vermillion flycatcher!
    Breakfast | Lunch | Dinner

    Day 6 - Isla Santa Fe - Plaza Sur

    • Santa Fe Island is home to many sea lions and these ones are very eager for swimming partners! It’s a lovely place to take a dip, offers a dense concentration of wildlife, and is a fantastic place to see many of the stars of the Galapagos in one relatively small area. Expect to see Galapagos hawks, land iguanas, a variety of finches, Galapagos mockingbirds, sea lions, marine turtles, frigatebirds, Galapagos doves and lava lizards. It’s a naturally beautiful island as well with one of the most attractive coves in the archipelago and the jade-green waters are ideal for snorkelling. A trail follows the coast into the opuntia forest, where you see Santa Fe's trees - the largest in the Galapagos. The island is also home to a unique sub-species of land iguanas. Hiking towards the cliffs on Santa Fe will lead you to a forest of prickly pear cactus. A member of the cactus family, their name comes from the pear-shaped fruit the plant produces. Santa Fe is home to endemic land iguanas. Once back at the beach you will have free time to snorkel back in the lagoon. Playful sea lions pups and florescent fish make for fascinating company.
    • A small island, Plaza Sur is nonetheless a place of great beauty, where you will get close to sea lions and on to trails past one of the Galapagos’ largest land iguana populations, resting amid cacti and volcanic landscapes coloured bright red and green by sesuvium. The island’s rugged southern cliffs are an excellent place to spot tropicbirds and swallow-tailed gulls, as well as the 'Gentlemen’s Club’, a gathering of male sea lions either too young or too old to be beachmasters!
    Breakfast | Lunch | Dinner

    Day 7 - Isla Española - Bahia Gardner - Punta Suarez

    • Today you will cruise to the island of Española - the southernmost island of the Galapagos and one of the most spectacular. Because of its remote location, this island has a large population of endemic fauna. It is the breeding site for nearly all of the world's 12,000 pairs of waved albatrosses and also home to colonies of blue-footed and masked boobies.
    • Trails from the golden beaches, where sea lions bathe and marine iguanas make their way towards the water, will lead you right through the middle of booby colonies, and Galapagos doves and mockingbirds are also often seen. You will also visit the beautiful white sandy beaches at Bahia Gardner, which are great places for swimming and relaxing. The rocks off the coast provide excellent snorkelling opportunities, with reef sharks, turtles and many species of tropical fish, including surgeon and angelfish, often seen. The small white-tipped reef sharks are also often spotted resting under the rocks.
    • You will also pay a visit to Punta Suarez, one of the most attractive locations in the Galapagos and home to large and varied wildlife population - a walk along its trails will take you to a cliff top viewpoint, where you'll gain a magical panorama. Boobies line the rocky shoreline beneath you, while frigate birds may be seen overhead; nearby enormous male sea lions can be seen lounging and albatross use the cliffs as their ‘runway’, helping become airborne by the southeast winds that blow across this part of the island.
    • If you’re lucky you’ll see the elaborate courtship rituals performed by albatrosses before the female chooses her lifelong mate!
    • Stop at Bahia Gardner (Gardner Bay), which is considered by many as one of the most beautiful beaches in the Galapagos Islands and full of sea lions and hood mockingbirds. Enjoy the beach and do some snorkelling which could be great for playing with sea lion pups and lots of fish. The rocks off the coast provide excellent snorkelling opportunities, with reef sharks, turtles and many species of tropical fish, including surgeon and angelfish, often seen. The small white-tipped reef sharks are also often spotted resting under the rocks.
    Breakfast | Lunch | Dinner

    Day 8 - Isla Cristobál - Leon Dormido - Isla Lobos - Punta Pitt

    • This morning you will visit Punta Pitt on the eastern end of San Cristobál Island. Walk to the top of the volcanic hill for expansive views of the sparsely vegetated area. A variety of seabirds nest here, including blue-footed boobies, red-footed boobies and frigates.
    • On a 'panga' ride you can observe the three varieties of boobies nesting in the Galapagos and enjoy a snorkel from the beach.
    • Close by you will pass through Leon Dormido (Kicker Rock), which is a magnificent rock in the middle of the sea, the shape resembles a sleeping lion. The rock rises 150 metres above the surface and is divided into two parts by a narrow channel. You cruise through the channel with nesting seabirds on either side of the boat, tropic birds overhead, marine iguanas in the water and many sea lions present including many resting on the rocks. Snorkelling gives us the opportunity to see Galapagos sharks, and possibly a hammerhead shark among sea turtles and an incredible biodiversity of invertebrates on the rock wall.
    • You will also visit Isla Lobos, a tiny island almost touching San Cristobál Island. This is the perfect time to witness the always friendly sea lions as they play in the calm shallow waters here. Blue-footed boobies, frigate birds and marine iguanas are also easily seen.
    Breakfast | Lunch | Dinner

    Day 9 - Isla San Cristobál

    • Visit San Cristobal Interpretation Centre in the morning. This centre brings the history and geography of the archipelago to life, from its volcanic origins to the present day. The human history exhibit offers an insight into the discovery and colonisation of the Galapagos, and the reality of the problems the islands face today is also explored.
    • This afternoon you will travel into the interior of the island to visit the highlands site of ‘Galapaguera of Cerro Colorado’ (Red Hill) where the national park has established a breeding program and information centre for tortoises. Here, you will be able to see giant tortoises in their natural habitat and learn all about their origin, evolution and their threatened future.
    Breakfast | Lunch | Dinner

    Day 10 - Isla Bartolomé - Bahia Sullivan

    • Isla Bartolomé (Bartolomé Island) is one of the most spectacular volcanic landscapes in the Galapagos, full of parasitic spatter cones, lava flows, Galapagos penguins and lava lizards.
    • It is a relatively new island in the archipelago and traces of its volcanic past can be seen everywhere, as evidenced by the amazing lunar-like landscape.
    • The Pinnacle Rock is one of the most photographed sites in the Galapagos – an abrupt jag of rock protruding from the earth like a tooth, while nearby two golden bays back onto each other.
    • You can hike to the top of a once-active volcano here, and enjoy superb views across to Sullivan Bay, on nearby Santiago Island. If you are in luck you might catch a glance of the Galapagos Hawk here. You also have the opportunity to go snorkelling with plenty of tropical fish, starfish, white-tipped reef sharks, rays and hopefully penguins.
    • On Santiago's eastern coast sits Bahia Sullivan, also known as James Island. Here you walk on Pahoe-Hoe lava, from an eruption that occurred in 1897, and witness the colonisation of plant species since the last eruption. Hopefully see some marine iguanas, Sally Lightfoot crabs, sea lions, finches, turtles, sharks and penguins. On a walk, your guide will explain the geological history of the islands.
    Breakfast | Lunch | Dinner

    Day 11 - Isla Santiago - Espumilla Beach - Buccaneer Cove - Puerto Egas

    • Today you will visit some wonderful places. Espumilla Beach, on the northern coast of Santiago Island in James Bay, is one of the most idyllic locations in the Galapagos Islands and is an important nesting site for marine turtles. With large waves, it is also often a favourite amongst beach lovers. Potentially we will see Galapagos hawks up close, ghost crabs, blue-footed boobies (often plunging for fish) and brown pelicans. It is also well known for its palo santo forest and some extraordinary lava formations.
    • This morning you will also visit Caleta Bucanero (Buccaneer Cove), a natural monument of rocks caused by sea erosion. This cove was used by pirates to careen their ships. It is a place of local legends and stories! It is also where Darwin camped for nine days while making his study of the islands and their wildlife. If conditions are favourable, you can enjoy some further snorkelling.
    • Port Egas is a black sand beach located on the west side of James Bay and northwest of Santiago Island. South of the beach is Sugarloaf Volcano, which has deposits of volcanic tuff. This site is named Puerto Egas, after Hector Egas who last attempted to mine salt here. The walk along the beach offers hundreds of marine iguanas and Galapagos sea lions.
    Breakfast | Lunch | Dinner

    Day 12 - Isla Santa Cruz - Puerto Ayora - Charles Darwin Station - Quito

    • Today you will visit Santa Cruz, the second largest island in the Galapagos. The small town of Puerto Ayora is the economic centre of the archipelago, and home to the Charles Darwin Research Station. As well as undertaking vital conservation work, the station also makes for interesting exploration and offers the best opportunities for close encounters with giant tortoises. You will also observe baby tortoises and land iguanas.
    • Afterward you'll head up into the highlands for a total change of scenery. Beginning at the coast you will travel across Santa Cruz through the agricultural region and into the misty forests. This is a lush humid zone containing miconia bushes, scalesia and inactive volcanic cones.
    • Santa Cruz has more endemic plants than any of the other islands and you are likely to see Galapagos giant tortoises in their natural habitat and perhaps even the bright red feathers of a vermillion flycatcher!
    Breakfast | Lunch | Dinner

    Day 13 - Isla North Seymour - Isla Mosquera

    • Today you will take a morning excursion to Isla North Seymour (North Seymour Island). The trail on North Seymour crosses the inland through the island and then explores the rocky coast. Along the way the trail passes colonies of blue footed boobies and frigate birds.
    • The magnificent frigate bird, a large black bird with a long wingspan, and a hooked beak, is extremely fast and has excellent vision. Frigate birds are known for the large red pouch on their necks. During mating season the males throw back their heads, inflate the pouch (sometimes to the size of a soccer ball), and shake trying to capture the attention of female frigates.
    • Boobies and frigates have an interesting relationship. Sharing the same nesting area on North Seymour, blue-footed boobies nest on the ground making their nests from the twigs of the palo santos trees, while the frigate birds nests just above them in the saltbushes.
    • After lunch you will visit the small sandy island of Mosquera, a relaxing, picturesque stop situated between Baltra and North Seymour. Along the rocks and in the tide pool, Sally Lightfoot crabs (red lava crabs) scamper back and forth, skipping across small pools of water in search of food. These crabs with their bright red shell tops and blue under shells are stunning against the black lava. The island also has a very large colony of sea lions as well as a sizeable resident brown pelican population. You also have a chance to go snorkelling here.
    Breakfast | Lunch | Dinner

    Day 14 - Black Turtle Cove - Cerro Dragón

    • Today you will take a morning excursion on a 'panga' to Caleta Tortuga Negra (Black Turtle Cove) - a red mangrove wetland on the north shore of Santa Cruz Island. You will paddle among the cove’s peaceful waters, for your first taste of the underwater riches of this region – it’s a wonderful place to see green turtle and is a nursery for golden cow-nose rays, eagle rays and Galapagos sharks. There is also abundant birdlife, such as the yellow warbler and lava heron. This is also a breeding area for turtles, so it is not uncommon to see them mating.
    • Cruise over for a walk on Cerro Dragón (Dragon Hill) this afternoon - one of the best places to see land iguanas in the islands. From our dry landing we walk to a brackish lagoon frequented by lagoon birds including stilts, pintail ducks, sandpipers, sanderlings and occasionally flamingos. Further inland, the trail offers a beautiful view of the bay and the western area of the archipelago. This area is a nesting site for land iguanas, which is constantly monitored and assisted by the Charles Darwin Research Station. The arid-zone vegetation makes for a rewarding location for birdwatching with Darwin's finches, Galapagos mockingbirds, the endemic Galapagos flycatcher and yellow warblers all regulars here. The path can be challenging but you will be well-rewarded with a spectacular view of the bay!
    Breakfast | Lunch | Dinner

    Day 15 - Isla Rabida - Sombrero Chino

    • Sombrero Chino is a small islet located near the south-east coast of Santiago. It's shaped like a Chinese hat (Sombrero Chino) when seen from afar, and is geologically fascinating, with many lava tubes leading from the cone to the coast. We approach Sombrero Chino via a beautiful crescent-shaped, sandy beach that is home to sea lions and Sally Lightfoot crabs. Opposite Sombrero Chino, on the rocky shoreline of nearby Santiago, Galapagos penguins are often seen. We follow a trail that circles the cove and passes through a sea lion colony and innumerable marine iguanas. The cove also offers some great snorkelling opportunities, hopefully with penguins and sharks.
    • Isla Rabida, also known as Jervis Island, is a tiny island sitting roughly five kilometres south of Santiago and is one of the most striking of the archipelago. Introduced species were eradicated in 1971, meaning that the indigenous wildlife has now been returned to a state of splendid isolation. Additionally, volcanic activity here has produced vivid, fantastical colours, not least the beaches of red sand and cliffs of scarlet.
    • From the shore, the trail leads through to what is one of the finest lagoons in the Galapagos for viewing flamingos. Rabida is also a wonderful place to spot nesting pelicans. Elsewhere, pintail ducks, marine iguanas and sea lions are all present.
    Breakfast | Lunch | Dinner

    Day 16 - Las Bachas - Baltra - Quito

    • Today you will take an early morning excursion to Las Bachas, which was so named after the barges abandoned by the American Navy here in the 1940s. The sandy, white beaches of Las Bachas on the north shore of Santa Cruz Island are a nesting site for the Pacific green turtle, and marine iguanas are also commonly seen. The sand here is particularly white and soft as it is made of decomposed coral.
    • The rocks provide great snorkelling and are the perfect habitat for the Sally Lightfoot crabs, which are plentiful on the island. A saltwater lagoon near to the beach is home to flamingo and whimbrel, and look out too for great blue herons. This is your final excursion before you return to the airport in Baltra for your flight back to Quito.
    • As you will be leaving the boat this morning, please remember that if you have enjoyed the services provided by your guide and crew, a tip would be very much appreciated by them. As a guideline we recommend each passenger consider US$15 per day for the crew and US$10 per day for your guide. You can leave tips in envelopes that are placed in your cabin on the last day of your journey.
    • Upon arrival in Quito Airport you will be transferred back to your hotel for an overnight stay.
    Breakfast

    Day 17 - Quito

    • Your Galapagos adventure will come to an end today after breakfast. There are no activities planned for the final day so you are able to depart the accommodation at any time. There are many fascinating things to do in and around Quito, so please speak to our customer service representative about any optional activities that might be of interest. They can also assist you in booking a departure transfer to the airport.
    Breakfast
  • What to Know

    What's Included

    • The services of an expert English-speaking naturalist guide and a crew of eight onboard the Galapagos vessel.
    • Return flights from Quito to the Galapagos Islands.
    • Accommodation onboard the M.C Queen Beatriz
    • All Zodiac and shore excursions during the voyage.
    • All meals aboard the M.C Queen Beatriz.
    • Use of snorkelling equipment, including a wetsuit, during the voyage.
    • Arrival transfer.

    Not Included

    • International flights
    • Airport departure tax
    • Visas where required
    • Meals not included in the itinerary
    • Insurance
    • Laundry
    • Any optional tours or activities during free time
    • Tips
    • Items of a personal nature
    • Galapagos transit card and the entrance fee to Galapagos Islands National Park
    • Isabela Island port fee
    • Drinks purchased on board
    • Daily budget
  • Map Itinerary

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Trip at a glance

Trip Code PSGG
Start City: Quito, Pichincha, Ecuador
End City: Quito, Pichincha, Ecuador
Style: Small Group

What to know

The National Park and Transit Card fee of US$110 is not included in the trip cost and must be paid in cash upon arrival at Baltra airport.  As this voyage also visits Isabela Island, there is also a US$20 fee to be paid on arrival at the island.

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