In July, the wine country of northern Portugal is at peak season. The country roads of the Minho, as this region is known, are smooth for exploring by bicycle. A nine-day tour of this wine-producing province begins July 1. Dubbed the "Grape Escape," cyclists will ride past terraced vineyards, tour a winemaking cooperative and sample the country's ports at the Graham and Fonseca port houses in Porto. The route follows the Rio Minho and Rio Lima valleys and loops through the pine and eucalyptus forests of Peneda Gere^s National Park. The final day's ride leads up the Galician coast to Bayona, Spain, where the group will take a cruise on an antique sailboat and eat a traditional paella dinner. Accommodations will be at 18th-Century manor houses and estates, as well as a castle-turned- parador in Bayona, Spain. Cost: $1,495 per person.
Another cycling tour in the same region leaves Sept. 16, in grape harvest season, for a 14-day program that follows the same itinerary as the July trip, but adds the Alentejo region, where cyclists will ride by wheat fields, olive groves and cork trees, with overnight stops in medieval hilltop villages. The tour ends with a free day to explore Lisbon. Cost: $2,075 per person. Both trips include accommodations, most meals, two bilingual guides and a support vehicle to carry luggage. Tour members may bring their own bicycles or rent 21-speed bikes for $129. Not included: international air fare. Contact: Easy Rider Tours, P.O. Box 228, Newburyport, MA 01950; telephone (800) 488-8332.
Explore Yellowstone Lake in a 24-foot cedar canoe for nine days Aug. 4. The lake is 20 miles long and 14 miles wide and is surrounded by Yellowstone National Park. Participants will paddle along the western and southern shores, fishing, watching wildlife and visiting park sites, including Old Faithful, Norris Basin and the falls of the Yellowstone River. No previous canoeing experience is required. A guide will teach canoeing and camping techniques, and explain the natural history of the area. Cost: $725 per person, including guide and support staff, canoes, food and camping equipment. The trip begins and ends outside of Yellowstone National Park in Gardiner, Mont. Contact: Wilderness Inquiry, 1313 5th St. SE, Box 84, Minneapolis, MN 55414; tel. (800) 728-0719.
Loyola Marymount University is offering a two-week excursion to Ireland Aug. 26 for golfing, sightseeing and cultural lectures. Participants will start in Shannon and proceed to Killarney, the Dingle Peninsula and the Cliffs of Moher and watch the Rose of Tralee Festival during the first week. In the second week the tour will visit Connemara, take in the All Ireland Hurling Final, and browse through Dublin, Kilkenny and Blarney Castle. Cost: $3,600 per person, double occupancy, including air travel from LAX, accommodations, ground transportation, guides, baggage handling, meals, fees and local taxes. Contact: Loyola Marymount University; tel. (310) 338-5136.
India and Nepal
A 19-day tour of the marketplaces of India and Nepal and the Pushkar Camel Fair in Rajasthan leaves Oct. 31. Members arrive in Delhi via Singapore, then fly to Udaipur for a boat dinner. Other sites on the itinerary include: the marketplace at Udaipur, the Ranakpur Temple, a village safari near Jodhpur, the palaces and forts of Jaipur, an elephant ride and Delhi's Red Fort. Participants take a train to Agra, with stops at Fatehpur Sikri, the Taj Mahal and Agra Fort. In Nepal, guests fly to Katmandu for Durbar Square, Swayambunath and Patan. Special tours are arranged for Indian bazaars, folk music concerts, dances, home visits and school visits. Cost: $4,295 per person, double occupancy, including air fare, hotels, most meals, tours and transfers. Contact: Worldview Travel, 125 Lakewood Center Mall, Lakewood, CA 90712; tel. (800) 782-4754.
Czech It Out
A guided 12-day tour of Prague and the Czech Republic departs Sept. 14 from LAX. The tour is led by two Prague-born, Czech Americans who will give walking tours of Prague that explore Old Town, the Jewish Quarter, Prague Castle, Lesser Town and Wenceslas Square. Evening entertainment includes a classical performance at the National Theater, two concerts in Prague and a riverboat cruise. Cost: $3,500 per person, double occupancy, including round-trip air from LAX, hotel, entrance fees, daily buffet breakfast, some lunches and dinners, gratuities, theater tickets, and welcome and farewell parties. Group limit is 20. Contact: Corliss Tours, 436 W. Foothill Blvd., Monrovia, CA 91016; tel. (800) 456-5717.