La Fortuna de San Carlos is a small town in the north of Costa Rica. It is mostly famous for its nearby Arenal Volcano (1,633 m) that constantly erupted from 1968-2011. The Arenal Volcano is a destination for scientists and tourists alike.
From San Jose (Atlantico Norte Station, bus company Auto Transportes San José San Carlos, address: Ave. 7-9 calle 12, Tel 2255-0567, 2255-4318, 2255-4300), three direct buses at 6:15 am, 8:40 am and 11:30 am. Alternatively, you may take a bus to Ciudad Quesada (San Carlos) where you can transfer to a bus heading to La Fortuna. there are 9 buses to Ciudad Quesada, where there are 12 buses from CQ to La Fortuna. Journey lasts 4 hours with direct and a little longer with transfer. Fare is about $5.
From San Ramón: four daily buses at 6 am, 9 am, 12:30 pm and 4 pm, 2 hours.
From Tilarán: two daily buses at 7 am and 12:30 pm. Auto-Transportes Tilarán company. Tel. 2222-3854
By car, intersections are poorly mapped. Bring a good map or a GPS loaded with Costa Rica. While there are signs, it can be confusing at first for those unaccustomed to the signs. Signs generally indicate the way to next towns, not major cities. If possible, check with locals about road conditions and which route is best to take. Drive is 3.5 hours from San Jose and 3 hours from Liberia Airport.
From San Jose, there are several options.
1) Take highway 1 west towards SAN RAMÓN, then head north on rt 156 (Calle 1) to the end, turning left and then right onto the first street. This is Rt 703, which will take you to rt 702 all the way to LA FORTUNA.
2) Take highway 1 west towards Highway 3, and head into ALAJUELA. Continue on Hwy 3, where it becomes Rt 125. Rt 125 joins Rt 126, and take 126 until SAN MIGUEL where you take the left at rt 140 until AGUAS ZARCAS. Right at Rt 250 which will continue as Rt 751 and then Hwy 4. Hwy 4 will take you to Rt 142 which goes to LA FORTUNA.
By private Shuttle: the cost of a private transportation with a Costa Rican driver is not much if you compare it with the benefit of a direct safe drive to the destination. Available from San Jose to Arenal and other destinations.
By domestic flight Nature Air you can also find easy and quick flights from many locations within Costa Rica! Super easy transit from Manuel Antonio/Quepos to La Fortuna for roughly $50.00 each way.
Arenal Volcano The photos at right are views from the village of El Castillo, on the southwest side of the Volcano, about 25 km west of La Fortuna and about 4km up the road from the Arenal National Park entrance. Additionally, there are great views of Lake Arenal and the Monteverde Cloud Forest from road up above El Castillo. In the evening hopefully you will see lava eruptions that can be quite spectacular set against the black night sky, but often it may be too cloudy to see the magnificent lava flows. Tours to the National Park usually start out in the early afternoon and include walking for about an hour through lava rocks before reaching El Mirador, the best place to view the eruption of the volcano. There are also possibilities of skipping the lava rock walking and go straight to El Mirador. Most tours state that they will stay for a hour/hour and half at this place, but if there is nothing to be seen probably a lot less. Also be aware that it might be chilly, so bring a jacket. The tours come in a variety of options: with buffet dinner and entrance to the Tabacon hot spa $64, with entrance to Baldi hot spa $30, just the tour $25. There is also a possibility of a no frills tour by mini-bus to El Mirador and back to Fortuna for $10.
Fortuna waterfall by horse $25. Stone steps lead to the bottom. Take a swimsuit for the pool in the lovely stream below. The entrance is accessible by road, so a cab works fine too. The entrance to the waterfall is about $10 and the ticket booth closes at 5pm. However, once you pay to go in, you are free to stay as long as you'd like. It's about a 10 minute hike down to the waterfall and 20 minutes back up.
Lake Arenal, is just west of the Arenal Volcano and can be seen as you drive over the dam on the main highway to Tilaran. Much better views of the lake and volcano can be seen from the hills above the village of El Castillo, which is located 9 km from the main highway on the Arenal National Park road. Activities on lake include boat tours, fishing, kayaking, and wind surfing.
Arenal Butterfly Conservatory, El Castillo Village - Arenal Volcano (20 km west of La Fortuna, turn left at the Arenal Volcano National Park Road and follow the signs. The Butterfly Conservatory is 9 km from main highway.), ☎ (506) 2479-1149, . 8:30AM-4:30PM. A visit to the Butterfly Conservatory offers a practical educational experience about nature with diversified exhibits of how butterflies, frogs, insects, and plants are reproduced in this natural environment. There are six large atrium habitats that provide representation of the plants, trees, butterflies, and frogs that live within the four micro-climates surrounding Lake Arenal; the lowland habitat, highland habitat, edge of forest habitat, and inside of forest habitat. You will also see laboratories, reproduction greenhouses, the exotic frog habit, host plant gardens and orchid atrium. If you want more adventure, then take the Rainforest River Walk along Quebrada Mariposa, the creek running through the primary forest on the property, where it’s often possible to spot animals such as sloths, tayras and monkeys; or toucans and parrots. Or, just take time to reflect at the Volcano View Gazebo, overlooking the botanical gardens, with views to the Arenal lake and volcano beyond. $12. (84.75183,10.42391)edit
Arenal Hanging Bridges, (First brick paved road turn off from crossing the Arenal Lake Dam, road is paved with bricks all the way to the parking lot), ☎ (506) 2479 11 70, . Mon to Fri 8 AM to 4 PM. A nice little hike through the hill, with about 6 hanging bridges and 10 regular bridges. There is a short trail for those who doesn't want to hike the whole area, right after the only tunnel. There is a wonderful turnoff to a waterfall (catarata Morpho in Spanish). $24 for self tour, $36 with a guide, noctural tours offered.. edit
Cano Negro Wild Life Refuge, . Rio Frío are biological humid areas considered to be one of the richest in biological diversity in Costa Rica. Here you can find a great variety of resident and migratory birds plus three different species of monkeys, also iguanas, sloths, turtles and caymans. Along the river you can see many birds, howler monkeys, spider monkeys, white-faced monkeys, also the three-toed sloth and some reptiles like caimans, Jesus Christ lizard and turtles.edit firstname.lastname@example.org
Horseback ride to Monteverde travel the old fashioned way by horse $75. This is a gorgeous 2-1/2 hour horseback ride along the beautiful Lake Arenal on wonderful, healthy horses.
Rain Goddess fishing boat - for entertainment the boat navigates around the Arenal lake, so that you can appreciate the unparalleled views. They have kayaks and other water activities you can do at the lake. Of course the main attraction is the fishing. The lake has many species of fish but the "Guapote" Bass is most prevalent; this fish is a close relative of the peacock bass and is just as strong. Other fish like the Mojara are also prevalent, think 'kin to the piranha but fruit eaters'. Using the fish you catch, Clifford, the amiable chef will cook them for you. Enjoy the fruits of your day's fun along with his many special recipes!
River cruises on the Peña Blancas river costs around $45
White water rafting on the Mighty Río Toro (Class 3-4), with over 45 exciting and continuous rapids that move through 16 kilometers of deep-canyon gorges passing waterfalls in a tropical canyon. Another option is the Beautiful Río Balsa (Class 2-3)
FlyZone Wakeboard Center on Lake Arenal, Lake Arenal (Puerto San Luis), ☎ (00506) 8339-5876, . Lake Arenal is starting to develop into the wakeboard center of Costa Rica. Here you can learn how to wakeboard while the monkeys are watching you from the shore; an unforgettable experience. 4 People can wakeboard per hour (costing $95) making it an affordable adventure. Always calm water to be found, and year round good air- and water temperatures. $95. edit
Rancho Margot, El Castillo, La Fortuna (3km west of Escuela de El Castillo), ☎ 8302-7318, . sustainable eco-lodge hotel is a must visit during your visit to the La Fortuna area! Whether enjoying a bungalow overnight in the middle of the rainforest, or a day visit for a guided 2-hour ranch tour and lunch, this 400-acre self-sufficient property is a must see!edit
Sky Trek Adventures, (On the unpaved road turn-off on the Fortuna-Lake Arenal road, where the Tourist Police station is located at. This is the same road where you would drive to Arenal Volcano National Park. Sky Trek is beyond the entrance of the national park, and there are signs pointing to the way.), . Take a scenic gondola up to the top of a mountain and zipline back down. Also with a suspension-bridge canopy walk for the more faint of heart. ~$75/person. Wonderful view of the Arenal volcano and the Arenal Lake. There is a nice restaurant with large windows with views to the volcano and lake on the site. There are hiking and bicycling options available. $77 per person for Sky Tram and Zipline package. edit
Rain Forest Chocolate Tour, . 1-2 hour tour through a new (founded ~3/2013) cacao plantation. With a step-by-step through the making process, including tastings along the way. Informative, tasty, and fun. ~$20/person. Can park across the road at the hotel (Cabinas La Catarata). Tricky to find, aim for the hotel and let them know you are there for the tour. Tours at 8AM, 10AM, 1PM, and 3PM. Call/email ahead to make reservations.edit
Canopy Tour Ecoglide, . 3. Arenal Ecoglide Canopy Tour // Toll Free US 1-877-577-3926 The Ecoglide canopy tour will make you feel as free as a bird that flies through the top primary rainforest’s trees, or adventurer as Tarzan swinging along the canopy of the forest! Ecoglide is located near the base of the stunning Arenal Volcano, surrounded with gorgeous rainforest vegetation. This activity offers the tourist an extraordinary eco-adventure, in which you will have the pleasure of delighting the unique perspective that this tour owns. A professionalized canopy guide will lead you in the two hours tour that is divided into three different sections. The first part is made of 5 platforms and 5 cables, varying from 75 to 360 feet long. The second section has 5 different platforms and 4 cables within your grasp, with lengths ranging from 140 to 520 feet. Finishing the eighth cable a unique, and extreme, adventure await for you; what we call the “Tarzan Swing”. This is the favorite activity for most visitors; it consists in jumping into the void, swinging placidly through the trees, tied with two ropes and a security cable. The last, but not least step consists of 5 platforms and 4 cables. Is in this section where you will find the lengthiest cables; they range from 230 to 1,410 feet. So, what are you waiting for? This adventure is great to get rid of stress, and to live experiences that you have never felt before. Remember that Ecoglide canopy tour incorporate high security standards; using specialized equipment, as well as security outfits, taking care of all details to protect the safety of the tourist. Besides, different schedules are provided in order to satisfied tourist’s availability.$55. edit
There are many sites offering hot spring bathing options. Tabacon used to be the original one, but since then, other places have sprung up. Baldi, Ecothermales and The Springs are the most popular, but there are also other places offering hot springs for cheaper prices. When checking into your hotel, ask if your hotel has a voucher system or agreement with a particular hot springs. Hot springs usually are offered with buffet-style dinners as a package deal type of ticket, though you can do without dining options.
Baldi hot springs 16 hot springs of various temperatures. Like Tabacon Hot Springs, this too is often included in volcano viewing packages. If you show up without a hotel voucher or tour package, hot springs only option is $31, or $51 with buffet. With a voucher from a hotel, it could be about $34 with buffet. Baldi charges a $6 usage fee for lockers, and a $10 deposit fee for towels.
Ecothermales Hot Springs (email@example.com), On main road between La Fortuna & Arenal Lake (across from Baldi hot springs), . More relaxing and a bit more discrete than either Baldi & Tabacon. Reservations definitely recommended as they limit to 100 guests. Good dinner and drinks. Friendly service and feels like you're a guest of the family rather than a customer.edit
The Springs Resort & Spa is a resort with hot springs spa facilities, as well as option for hiking the Heliconia Trail which takes you to more hot springs. Admission: 8AM to 11 PM, $50 for two days pass.
Los Lagos Resort (https://www.hotelloslagos.com/), On main road between La Fortuna & Arenal Lake (across from Los Laureles Hot Springs), ☎ (506)2479-1000, . Another resort that has hot spring facilities. edit
Tabacon Hot SpringsEntrance fee $60. The fee includes modern changing rooms with locks, towels, and access to the multi-level hot spring with a slide, artificial waterfalls, view of the volcano, and bars for drinks without leaving the water. For a higher price, there is a magnificent buffet. Many hotels will arrange packages including a guided hike to the volcano followed by a trip to the hot springs for a much lower price. If you stay at Tabacon Grand Spa Thermal Resort you have free entrance to the thermal resort.
Tabaconcito Hot Springs Free Entrance - Across the road from Tabacon Springs used to be Tabaconcito Hot Springs. There are no facilities except for some ranches and tables. This is a great place to enjoy a natural river, with even some waterfalls and places to relax within it. Since no one controls the site, you can take inside any food or drinks. Beware that after sunset there is no electricity in that place, so if you are planning on staying late at night bring with you a good flash light.
Thermales Los Laureles Located about 5 kilometers west of the park in Fortuna towards Arenal volcano, on the northern side of the road. Admission: 6000 colones for adult, 3000 colones for children and senior citizens - Across the road from Los Lagos Resort. There are seven pools with thermal water and 2 with fresh water, a water slide for adults and 2 for children. Campsites and cabins are available at this location, with showers, electricity, BBQ grills, etc... Hours: 9 AM to 9 PM, Tel: (506)2479-1431, email firstname.lastname@example.org
Arenal Volcano Night Hike, ☎ 5068807-4954, . 2.5. Around a two hours hike through secondary rainforest which contains lots of habitat of monkeys, spiders, congos, some cariblancos and not leaving behind the tucans, turkeys, and the big quantity of different flora that's in the outskirts of the volcano. There are some emerald green hot springs, colored from copper deposits. $52. edit
Cerro Chato Hike (La Fortuna Costa Rica). This hike takes you through very dense primary forest toward the Cerro Chato. The hike is a strenuous uphill 2-3 hour hike, 1.5-2 hours back down. There is a crater lake where you can swim, take pictures and explore the surroundings. After that you continue the descent through the rainforest with occasional views over the San Carlos Valley as well as the Arenal Volcano. ~$10 admission, tickets purchased at the Green Lagoon Hotel. The trek ends adjacent to La Fortuna Waterfalls for an added bonus on your trip. Also with its own ~$10 admission.edit
Que Rico Arenal Tel 2479-1020 is located next 6.4 kilometers toward the lake from the Catholic Church of La Fortuna. Italian and International menu. Great location for viewing the volcano with an excellent meal!
La Choza de Laurel is located next to Burger King. Fantastic menu selection. Tasty food, cheerful service, open to the breeze. Low prices! (10000 colones for two).
Kioro is located at El Mirador and is the restaurant closest to the Arenal volcano. You can sit in the restaurant and watch the erupting volcano or the red lava glow from the top. Specializes in meat. A steak will set you back 4500-5000 Colones. Tel 461-1700.
Los Nenes, not a very attractive setting one block from the main street and two blocks from the park (when entering from east), but reasonably priced food (but not as good or big portions as Rocas de Lava). 2000-3200 for a dinner. The nachos with everything (1200 C) is really good.
Rocas de Lava (Lava Rocks Café) on the main street, just after the park. Tel 479-8039, email@example.com. Good food, generous portions. Try the Casado de pollo (2950 Colones).
Lava Lounge is on main street just getting into town before the park. Good food, a break from typical Tico food.
Gecko Gourmet, La Fortuna (Corner by Alamo Car Rental). Excellent coffee and sandwiches!!edit
Cascajo's del Arenal, ☎ 2479-9674. Located 800 meters west (downhill) of Hotel Tabacon, look out for the yellow monster truck tires and Coke sign. Tasty, local food without the touristy atmosphere. Ceviche is the bomb diggity.edit
I'm Hungry Crepes Arenal Volcano (Creperie), In front of Hotel Las Colinas, La Fortuna, Arenal Volcano. (In front of Hotel Las Colinas, La Fortuna, Arenal Volcano.), ☎ 24798355. 10:00AM to 10:00PM. I'm Hungry Crepes is a local restaurant where you can try the most delicious crepes in the area. I'm Hungry Crepes also offers great fast food like Hamburgers, Quesadillas, Burritos, Tacos, HotDogs.$1 to $8. (Creperie,Creperie)edit
Kazan Restaurant and Bar, Downtown La Fortuna, ☎ 2479 7561, . A nice spot in downtown La Fortuna where the locals go. Great spot to watch sports. Food isn't half bad. Cheap beer is a plus. Diagonal downhill from the big church.edit
Don Rufino Restaurant, . Downtown La Fortuna. Upscale bar. Food is quite nice, bar is great! edit
Arenal Country inn. in the foothills of the Arenal volcano, it has 20 rooms with view of the volcano. The rooms have air conditioning, safety deposit boxes, hot water, flat screen cable TV, phone and private terraces. The hotel has swimming pool, beautiful gardens, restaurant service and conference room. Tropical breakfast included in the room rate.$100-114. edit
Arenal Manoa Hotel & Hotel Resort (Arenal Hotel), La Fortuna (Located just out of La Fortuna), ☎ 2479-11-11, . Volcano views from all rooms. The hotel includes, a swimming pool, Jacuzzi and a nice restaurant. Also, free farm tour. Spa service.Rates start from $135 a night.. editArenal Volcano Hotel
Lomas del Volcan (Lomas del Volcan), La Fortuna (Frotuna), ☎ 2479-90-00, . Volcano views from all rooms. Rates start from $95 a night.. editHotel Arenal Costa Rica
Arenal Paraiso, (about 6km from the tow), ☎ +506 460-5333 (firstname.lastname@example.org), . checkin: 14:00; checkout: 12:00. Each room has a small patio and offers a view of the volcano as well as double bed, tv, fridge, coffe pot, hot water. There are also 14 hot springs pools on the hotel property The hotel also has a famous canopy tour on the property which costs $45 and lasts about 3 hours. Toll Free Number US 1-877-577-3926Rooms range from standard to suite ranging from $60 to $300 (not including tax).. edit
Arenal Rabfer. One block north of NE corner of Plaza Central. Family-run, decent, very modern, tiny but comfortable double room with balcony & bath & breakfast US$50 (low season, November 2009), friendly hosts, good view of volcano from landing, occasional iguanas.[
Views from Arenal Springs Resort
Arenal Springs Resort Modern hotel with volcano views from $87. Guests receive a welcome drink upon arrival. The hotel has multiple pools with hot springs water from the volcano. Nice Italian restaurant onsite.
Arenal Volcano Inn, (About 6.5 kilometers from the church), ☎ 2479-1122, . 15 rooms. The deluxe rooms feature two queen size beds,mini fridge, a/c,private bathroom with hot water,coffee maker and safety deposit box. Every room has its own private terrace with direct view to the volcano. The hotel has swiming pool,a small spa for body treatments and the best italian/international restaurant of the areaedit
Finca Luna Nueva Lodge, (30 min South of Fortuna in San Isidro de Peñas Blancas), ☎ +506 468-0352 (email@example.com), . Organic/biodynamic certified ginger and turmeric farm with rustic lodgings on the edge of the rainforest. Steven, the farm manager is a walking encyclopedia of medicinal plants, sustainable farming and rainforest ecology. They have a variety of lodging options from individual cabins to airconditioned master suites. All have overwhelmingly comfortable beds and nice views. The food is all organically grown on the site (including the meat) and is alone worth the trip. They have a natural pool and solar jacuzzi, wireless internet, rainforest hikes, options for day-tours both on and nearby the farm.edit
Hotel La Fortuna, ☎ (506) 2479-9197, . A brand-new five-storey hotel in downtown. Good views from the upper rooms. Several rooms and most of the hotel are wheelchair accessible. On site restaurant, sports bar and offers "No Limits Tours" for senior and physically challenged and disabled tourists.edit
Jardines de Arenal, (2 km east of town. The friendly owner will usually give you a lift from/to town, taxi costs around 650 Colones), ☎ 479-9728 (firstname.lastname@example.org), . 15 rooms, all with AC and fan, 1 double and 2 single beds. A typical breakfast with gallo pinto, egg, ham, cereals, fruit, bread, coffee and juice is included. The owner Hernán Blanco can help you order tours to the surrounding attractions, and if you're lucky, he might give you a free ride to the volcano (and back). He can also get you shuttle service to or from San José for $15 (one way) leaving Fortuna at 6AM and returning at noon. Friendly and helpful staff. $27.50 per person with volcano-view and slightly bigger bathroom, $23 pp for the others.. edit
La Mansion Arenal La Mansion Arenal overlooks the vast Lake Arenal and is located just minutes from the volcano and hot springs. The hotel includes an infinity pool, wireless internet and free canoes for your enjoyment. Rates start at $180 a night.
La Roca Virgen (This hotel is out of business (as of Nov.10, 2012)), (Three blocks north of the square). La Roca Virgen is a surprisingly cheap yet clean and comfortable place to stay. Off the beaten path but only a couple minutes walk to the center of town. 6? rooms with private baths for $9pp, rooms with shared bath cheaper. Off season discounts. Wireless internet. TV, fan, and refrigerator in rooms. Tours arranged. Property patrolled/inhabited by friendly dogs. $9. edit
Volcano Lodge, (On the side of the road that connects La Fortuna de San Carlos with the Arenal Lake, Near the Tabacon Hot Springs), . The lodge has 65 rooms with two double beds, a/c and private bathroom with hot water. One of the better views of the lava flow of the Arenal Volcano, also features an open air Jacuzzi with a magnificent view of the Volcano and swimming pools edit
Arenal Oasis Eco Lodge & Wildlife Refuge (.), La Fortuna, Arenal Volcano. (2kms west and 800mts south of town), ☎ (506) 2479 9526, . checkin: 2:00pm; checkout: 12:00md. Arenal Oasis is natural paradise located at the base of Arenal Volcano, attended by a local family you will feel like at home. Rooms are rustic fancy cabins in the woods. The lodge has its own wildlife refuge where you can walk in flat trails inside the rain forest, vist a butterfly garden, frog ponds and terrariums with local reptiles, insects and poison dart frogs. $75 double. (.,.)edit
Magic Mountain (Hotel Magic Mountain), La Fortuna (La Fortuna), ☎ 1-877-577-3926, . checkin: 14:00; checkout: 12:00. Hotel Magic Mountain a Colonial Modern Hotel, located in La Fortuna facing the Arenal Volcano. Scenic location provides visitors with a stunning view of the colossal Volcano Arenal.$99 double. edit
Gringo Pete's. Basic, clean accommodations with fan, and optional private bathroom for $1/night more. Laundry service for C3000 (=$6). Lots of nice backpackers. Best rates in town on tours - like 25% off list price.$6pp. edit
Las Colinas, La Fortuna. Great hotel that is very clean and comfortable. Rooms offer AC and balconies.edit
Silencio del Campo, . Seemingly small but picturesque hotel. Really a series of individual cabins -- don't have to worry about rowdy neighbors keeping you up. Wonderful views of the volcano from everywhere. Includes breakfast. Staff is incredibly nice and helpful. Also, hot springs and spa on site. $145-175/night.edit
Arenal Nayara Hotel, 6km toward Arenal from La Fortuna, ☎ 1-877-577-3926, . checkin: 14:00; checkout: 12:00. The hotel is a perfect setting for a romantic escape, an exclusive and romantic getaway in a lush tropical rain forest complete with all the amenities of a luxury hotel. All the beautiful bungalows in this boutique hotel (ranging from 855 to 1905 square feet) include a secluded garden with an outdoor shower and a beautiful terrace overlooking the volcano with a private, intimate Jacuzzi for two to make your stay just awesome.edit
Hotel Arenal Bromelias, La Fortuna Costa Rica d, . checkin: 14:00; checkout: 12:00. Hotel Arenal Bromelias boasts an excellent location in the quiet village of La Fortuna, it is just a few steps away from Central Park and the Catholic Church in town. The hotel' rooms offer private hot water bathroom, air conditioning, cable TV, mini fridge, safe deposit box, and a nice open air private balcony. Some of the facilities this small hotel has to offer are public areas, gift shop/newsstand, patio and picnic area, an outdoor swimming pool, computer rental, dry cleaning/laundry service, television in lobby. Best Hotel in La Fortuna Costa Rica City, Located next to Catholic Church. Arenal Bromelias Phone Toll Free US 1-877-577-3926$65. edit
arenal kioro, palma (la fortuna), ☎ 50624791700. checkin: 2; checkout: 12:00. an extremely nice at least 4* rating.Pool, hot springs, spa,restaurant. Hot tub in room with mini bar and TV.edit
Tabacon Grand Spa, . Entrance to the hot springs and spa is included in room rate, one of the top spas in Costa Rica.Room rates start at $235 + tax per night in garden or forest rooms. Breakfast is not included.. edit
The Springs Resort & Spa One of the newest resorts in Costa Rica and one that boasts incredible views of Arenal Volcano. The hotel premises includes hot springs, three restaurants, a wildlife preserve, a fitness center and a casino. Easily one of Costa Rica's most extravagant hotels.
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