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Helping Tiny Turtles, Fat Manatees in Belize


Adventure-minded assistants are needed on an 11-day expedition to Belize, Aug. 12, to work with a biologist in a hands-on turtle restoration project and to assess the distribution and habitat use of resident manatees. Gales Point is an important habitat for the largest Caribbean manatee population in Central America, and its beach is the primary nesting site in Belize for the endangered hawksbill sea turtle. Gales Point is on a peninsula extending into a complex lagoon that borders the Caribbean Sea. A new road has connected once-remote Gales Point to Belize City, and information is needed on manatee and turtle habitat use in order to manage the area responsibly.

Working in alternating teams, one group will set out in a small dory to survey the lagoon in order to map the distribution of the manatees. The other team will patrol the beach to locate nesting turtles, collect biological data and chaperon hatchlings to the sea. Team members will also help to build and repair turtle nesting cages that protect eggs from predators. Participants will stay in rustic village guest quarters or camping sites. Participants should be experienced with camping in a rugged environment and be generally physically fit. Cost: $1,290 per person, including air fare from Miami or Houston, lodging, sightseeing arrangements, guides, permits and most meals. Contact: Oceanic Society Expeditions; telephone (800) 326-7491.

Waves to Waterfalls

From the coastlines of Morro Bay and Monterey to Yosemite Falls, a five-day trip will take participants via motor coach to famous California sites July 17. The first stop will be in the Danish community of Solvang before continuing north to the fishing village of Morro Bay for a sunset dinner cruise around Morro Rock. Guests visit Hearst Castle, then ride to the Monterey Peninsula and the 17-Mile Drive, the Monterey Bay Aquarium and Cannery Row. The return trip stops at the national parks of Yosemite, Sequoia and Kings Canyon. Cost: $495 per person, double occupancy, including door-to-door pickup, some meals and all lodging. Contact: Main Street Tours, 1751 W. Torrance Blvd., Suite N, Torrance, CA 90501; tel. (800) 300-6246.

African Royalty

A queens and kings tour of Nigeria gives participants a chance to meet some of the royalty of the Edo Kingdom, who live in palaces built centuries ago. Three 15-day trips leave Oct. 20, Nov. 24 and Jan. 19. The groups will travel by road from the southern city of Lagos, head east through Benin City, north to the capital city of Abuja, then to Kaduna. At each stop there are opportunities to interact with villagers and participate in wedding and naming ceremonies. Cost: $4,250 per person, double occupancy, including air fare from Los Angeles, meals, hotels, ground transportation and guides. Contact: Ade Olowu or Edoba Asemota, Royal Heritage Tours, 16260 Ventura Blvd., Suite 610, Encino, CA 91436; tel. (818) 905-5974.

Eastern Europe

Arts, crafts, churches and monasteries are the focus of a tour to Bulgaria, Romania and Hungary Aug. 29 to Sept. 14. Beginning in Bulgaria, participants visit Sofia, the 2,200-year-old capital city, to see the Alexander Nevsky Cathedral and Bashi mosques and the Rila Monastery, founded in 927; Plovdiv, Bulgaria's second-largest city, to see its recently restored Roman amphitheater, and Veliko Turnovo, a charming city in the hills where you can watch weavers, potters, instrument makers and other craftspeople at work. In Romania, guests visit Bucharest to see the Museum of the History of Romania; Brasov in the Carpathian Mountains; Transylvania, where Bram Stoker placed the castle of the legendary Count Dracula, and Suceava, an area of rustic villages and mountain scenery. In Hungary, visitors tour Budapest by the Danube River. Cost: $2,600 per person, double occupancy, including land transportation, accommodations, two meals daily, admission to all museums and special exhibits, guides, visa fees and travel insurance. Not included: air fare to Sofia and from Budapest or Prague. Contact: Anytime Anywhere Travel, 940 South Coast Drive, Costa Mesa, CA 92626; tel. (800) 542-1888.

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