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Tours & Cruises

The Warm, Fuzzy Feel of a Harp Seal Pup

October 30, 1994|KARIN DOMINELLO | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Each March, 250,000 harp seals enter the Gulf of St. Lawrence to bear their young on the ice floes. Known as whitecoats, the pups shed their snowy white fur and turn gray within three weeks. Four six-day tours and one five-day tour to see the furry newborns begin Feb. 28 on the Magdalen Islands near Halifax, Nova Scotia. Participants take a helicopter to the ice floes, suit up in orange winter suits and warm boots and walk among the seals. Some pups approach inquisitively and roll on their backs to have their furry bellies petted. In 1987, Canada banned the commercial hunting of whitecoats. The International Fund for Animal Welfare is working to create a tourist industry to boost the local economy to ensure that there is never a need to reinstate hunting.

Cost: from $1,695 per person, double occupancy, including air fare between Halifax and the Magdalen Islands, hotels, breakfasts daily and two dinners, services of a naturalist, slide shows and lectures, snowshoeing and hiking trips, outdoor gear and airport transfers. Not included: air fare to Halifax. Contact: Natural Habitat Adventures, 2945 Center Green Court South, Suite H, Boulder, Colo. 80301; tel. (800) 543-8917.

Explore Indonesia

A 20-day tour to Indonesia leaves March 19 to visit Irian Jaya, where an ancient culture flourishes in the remote Baliem Valley; Torajaland, best known for its hanging graves; Sumba, to participate in the colorful Pasola festival, and Bali with its scenic beaches, lush rice terraces and crafts markets.

Cost: $4,095 per person, double occupancy, including round-trip air fare from Los Angeles, accommodations, most meals and all sightseeing fees. Contact: In Focus With Michele Burgess, 20741 Catamaran Lane, Huntington Beach, Calif. 92646; tel. (714) 536-6104.

African Safaris

Two- and three-week safaris to the game parks of Kenya and Tanzania, led by a native of Kenya who is an economics professor at Cal State Dominguez Hills, are available on various dates in January, June, July and August.

A two-week tour leaves LAX for Nairobi, Kenya, Jan 4. Participants will visit the game parks of Maasai Mara, Amboseli, Samburu and Lake Nakuru, and visit the Treetops Lodge and Mt. Kenya Safari Club. A tour of the city of Nairobi will include the National Museum and the Karen Blixen ("Out of Africa") home. Participants will visit schools and villages and will hear from speakers about contemporary social issues in Kenya.

Cost: from $3,890 per person, including round-trip air fare to Nairobi, ground transportation, hotels, most meals, museum and park entrance fees. Contact: Kenya Study Safaris, 30037 Via Borica, Rancho Palos Verdes, Calif. 90275; tel. (310) 377-6790.

Easter Island

Five tours to Easter Island, known as one of the most isolated inhabited places on earth, will depart Dec. 18, Jan. 15, Feb. 5, March 5 and April 2 for 15 days. Easter Island is visited for its ancient society, complex social structure and engineering accomplishments, including the mysterious giant statues. Participants start in Santiago, Chile, with a tour of the city and the surrounding countryside. The journey continues 2,350 miles west to Easter Island, where the major excavations and some recent digs at Anakena Bay are explored. Also seen is a quarry at Rano Raraku, a mysterious site where work was abruptly abandoned. Members will experience Polynesian culture with opportunities to join the islanders in dancing, singing, feasting, fishing, horseback riding, snorkeling and swimming.

Cost: $2,290 per person, double occupancy, including hotels, tours and ground transportation. Not included: international air fare or air to the island from Chile. Contact: Nature Expeditions International, 474 Willamette, Eugene, Ore. 97440; tel. (503) 484-6529.

Greek Antiquities

University of Wisconsin, Madison, classics professor John Bennet will lead a 20-day tour of Crete, Santorini and Athens May 29. Beginning in Khania, Crete, stops will include Rethimnon, Zaros, Iraklion, Sitia and Elounda Bay, where participants see classical city-states, palaces and Turkish fortified towns. On Santorini, guests will see a volcanic caldera and the site of Akrotiri, called the Pompeii of the Aegean. In Athens, tours are taken to the Acropolis, Temple of Poseidon, the National Archeological Museum, the ancient cemetery of the Kerameikos and the Parthenon.

Cost: $2,995 per person, double occupancy, including air fare from Chicago, ground and sea transportation, hotels, most meals and admissions. Contact: University Education Travel; tel. (800) 525-0525.

Cycling Hawaii

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