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Tours & Cruises

Causing a Big Flutter in Colonial Mexico


Fly south Jan. 28 with the monarch butterflies on a seven-day trip to study butterfly migration in Mexico's Sierra Madre Occidental Mountains. Joe Brennan, from the California Academy of Sciences, and Walter Sakai, a monarch butterfly researcher, will lead the group to observe the annual wintering colonies of the monarch, the only insect in the world to make such a long journey--from Canada to Mexico. The butterflies that journey to the site are the progeny of their great-grandparents. The mystery is how the route is relayed through the generations. Participants will stay in the mountain village of Valle de Bravo and make excursions to El Rosario Preserve. Valle de Bravo is a colonial lake town with cobblestone roads. Members will have time to explore the quaint town and visit with its residents.

Cost: $2,030 per person, double occupancy, including accommodations at the Hotel Avandaro and Spa, most meals and ground transportation. Not included: air fare to Mexico City. Contact: California Academy of Sciences Travel Program, Golden Gate Park, San Francisco, Calif. 94118-4599; telephone (415) 750-7348.

Snowmobiling Trek

Three- and four-day snowmobiling trips through Yellowstone National Park are available on various dates in December, January and February. Participants ride on wide, groomed paths from lodge to lodge and see different areas of the park including Old Faithful and the site of Buffalo Bill's hunting lodge. Frozen waterfalls, steaming geysers, herds of wild buffalo and other wildlife are spotted along the way. Travelers are outfitted with insulated gloves, snowsuits, helmets and boots and are given a demonstration on handling their high-powered snowmobile.

Cost: $745 for three days and $945 for four days per person, including lodging, equipment and meals. Contact: American Wilderness Experience, P.O. Box 1486, Boulder, Colo. 80306; tel. (303) 444-2622.

New Orleans Party

A six-day tour to celebrate Mardi Gras in New Orleans departs Feb. 24 from Los Angeles. Participants will see the Endymion Parade and the famous Bacchus Parade, visit the San Francisco Plantation, breakfast at Brennan's (a New Orleans tradition) and attend the Mardi Gras Tableau Ball, a masked ball presented by one of the krewes, or carnival organizations. Cost: $1,218 per person, double occupancy, including deluxe hotel, five breakfasts, one lunch and two dinners, and specially reserved bleacher seats for parades. Not included: air fare to New Orleans. Contact: Bonar Travel, 24 Whitewater Drive, Corona del Mar, Calif. 92625; tel. (714) 640-7402.

Santa Ynez Wineries

Taste the harvest of four wineries in Santa Ynez Valley wine country on an all-day motor coach tour that leaves Costa Mesa at 7:30 a.m. and Studio City at 8:30 a.m. on Nov. 5. The tour starts with breakfast en route . Itinerary includes: the Gainey Vineyards, Sunstone Winery for tasting and a gourmet lunch, Babcock Vineyards for wine tasting and dessert, and Buttonwood Winery. Participants return in the evening between 6 and 7 p.m.

Cost: $75 including European motor coach, continental breakfast, buffet lunch, dessert, admissions and tour fees. Contact: Epicurean Wine Tours, 605 S. Marengo Ave., No. A, Pasadena, Calif. 91106; tel. (818) 795-2661.

Wine on the Waves

Wines and winemakers from 11 award-winning Napa Valley vineyards will be aboard a Nov. 5 theme cruise through the Caribbean for the Napa Wineries '94 Sea Tour. Owners, winemakers and personnel from the California vineyards will offer tastings, special wine lists to complement different foods, lectures and presentations on all phases of grape growing and production. Ports of call include Curacao, Caracas, Grenada, Martinique, St. Thomas and Nassau on this 10-day cruise.

Cost: from $2,295 per person. Not included: air fare to Fort Lauderdale, Fla. Contact: Captain Cook's Cruise Center, P.O. Box 4347, Visalia, Calif. 93278; tel. (800) 800-2784.

Oriental Express

Spend Thanksgiving on the Eastern and Oriental Express, a luxury train that carries 132 passengers through the Malaysian Peninsula from Singapore to Bangkok. The 15-day tour, which finishes with three days in Hong Kong, leaves Los Angeles Nov. 19. Participants begin in Singapore, spending two days/three nights touring the city before boarding the train equipped with sleeping compartments and a dining car serving Asian and European cuisine. On Thanksgiving Day, a traditional meal is served. There will be an excursion to the island of Penang, just off the coast in the Andaman Sea. The next day the train arrives in Bangkok, where guests stay in a hotel and tour such sights as the Grand Palace and the Temple of the Emerald Buddha. In Hong Kong, guests visit downtown shopping areas (just in time for the holidays), Victoria Peak, Repulse Bay and the fishing village of Aberdeen.

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