Bhutan, "The Dragon Kingdom," is the destination of a Mt. Chomolhari trek offered by Wilderness Travel, 1760 Solano Ave., Berkeley, Calif. 94707, phone (415) 524-5111. The Bhutanese have a traditional Buddhist life style; few visitors are admitted, and these only in organized groups. Arriving in Paro Valley by way of Calcutta, the group (limited to 15) visits historic Drukgyel Dzong, legendary guardian of the valley, and Taktsang Jakhang, the Tiger's Nest Monastery. The trek begins in high alpine meadows and reaches Mt. Chomolhari on the Tibetan border, goes across Yalila Pass and ends in Thimphu, the nation's capital. The tour, Sept. 2 to 19, costs $1,790 plus air fare of an estimated $1,692 from the West Coast. Wilderness Travel also has excursions to Tonga and Fiji, Tanzania, China and the Amazon.
Western Cruise Lines' Azure Seas will host "The Sultan's Revenge" on its weekend cruise of March 29. Performed by the Plot Thickens Co., actors portraying Sherlock Holmes, Sam Spade and other characters will provide clues to help participating passengers solve the mystery. The cruise is to Ensenada and back, Friday evening to Monday morning, and the mystery players pay $575 (or add 10% for single accommodations). To get in on the act, phone "Dr. Watson" at (213) HOLMES 4, or, numerically speaking, 465-6374.
Hong Kong to Shop
An escorted shopping tour to Hong Kong will take participants to wholesalers and manufacturers of jewelry in gold, precious and semi-precious stones. The group will travel via United Airlines and stay at the Royal Gardens Hotel in Kowloon. The tour, June 22 to 29, costs $1,299. It's offered by APA Travel, 287 S. Robertson Blvd., Beverly Hills 90210, phone (213) 652-3080.
Literature & History
Wilson & Lake International, 1 Appian Way, Suite 704-8, South San Francisco, Calif. 94080, phone (415) 589-0352, has several tours focusing on literature and history in Great Britain. "Bard, Burns & Bronte," a 15-day tour, departs May 11 and Sept. 14. "Castles, Cathedrals & Camelot," 15 days departing June 15, takes in southern England. "Autumn Tints," departing Oct. 1, is a 15-day tour of the English Lake District, the Scottish Highlands and Edinburgh. Prices range from $1,119 to $1,449 plus air fare and trips are escorted by John Wilson or Jane Wilson-Simpson of the firm's British offices. Summer literary courses are also offered, with accommodations in family homes near Sheffield University; two weeks for $640 plus air fare.
The fiords and bays of southeast Alaska will be visited on natural history cruises aboard a custom-built 50-foot ship, the Delphinus, which carries up to 10 passengers and a crew of three that includes a naturalist guide. The group will explore the most remote waterways of the region, guided by Ron Storro-Patterson, marine biologist. The Delphinus carries skiffs that can be used to go ashore for hiking, beachcombing and wildlife viewing. The cruises depart June 30, July 9, July 20 and Aug. 1. The cost is $1,490 plus round-trip air fare. For details contact Mountain Travel, 1398 Solano Ave., Albany, Calif. 94706, phone (415) 527-8100 in California or (800) 227-2384 from outside the state.
The pleasures of Italian cuisine from northern to central Italy will be savored on an "Italian Gourmet Adventure," July 21 to Aug. 1, offered by Robinson Travel Services, 505 N. Sepulveda Blvd., Manhattan Beach, Calif. 90266, phone (213) 379-2495. The tour is limited to 25 and costs $1,202 plus air fare via TWA of an estimated $1,068. Visits are planned to chefs in their kitchens, country villas, marketplaces and vineyards, simple trattorie , elegant restaurants, fine hotels and private homes, with ample free time to shop and walk.
A Carmel/Monterey tour is offered April 26 to 28 by Uniglobe Commerce Travel, 4000 Birch St., Suite 101, Newport Beach, Calif. 92660, phone (714) 476-8383. The cost is $219 including round-trip passage on Amtrak's luxury train, the Coast Starlight, two nights' lodging at the Casa Munras Hotel in Monterey, the 17-Mile Drive between Carmel and Monterey, and leisure time in both cities.
DER Tours, with U.S. corporate offices at 520 Broadway, Suite 320, Santa Monica 90401, has 29 itineraries with 198 guaranteed departures on escorted motor-coach programs and river cruises in Europe, offered in cooperation with Lufthansa German Airlines. The tours range from two to 23 days, with prices from $90 to $1,779. Itineraries include Germany, Austria, Hungary, Switzerland, Romania, Bulgaria, Yugoslavia and Russia. Details are available from DER at (800) 252-0606 in California or (800) 421-4343 nationwide.
China in Depth
A 23-day tour, "China in Depth," has 15 days in China sandwiched between two days in Tokyo and three in Hong Kong. A 30-day "Ancient Routes" itinerary also adds Thailand, Malaysia and Singapore. Both are offered by Globus-Gateway, 69-15 Austin St., Forest Hills, N.Y. 11375, phone (800) 556-5454. Departures of both tours are weekly from Los Angeles, through Nov. 2. Prices for the 23-day tour range from $1,951 to $2,024; for the 30-day tour, $2,499 to $2,574. Air fare is extra.
Prices and schedules should be confirmed with airlines, cruise lines, tour operators or travel agents.