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Tours & Cruises

Follow That Whale Into Baja California


Baja California Tours is offering a weeklong tour to see migrating gray whales in Baja, Mexico, Feb. 10. The tour leaves from San Diego. Participants will go whale-watching for three days at Scammons Lagoon, Lopez Mateos and San Carlos near La Paz.

Cost: $999 per person, double occupancy, including air-conditioned motor-coach transportation with bilingual guide, accommodations for six nights in Catavina, Guerrero Negro, Loreto, Puerto San Carlos and La Paz, some meals and sightseeing.

Contact: Baja California Tours, 6986 La Jolla Blvd., No. 204, La Jolla, CA 92037; telephone (619) 454-7166.

Indian Ocean Cruise

An Africa, India and Seychelles cruise on Royal Cruise Line's Star Odyssey departs Los Angeles Feb. 11. A two-day pre-cruise extension can be added for $899 to see the Taj Mahal and Goa on the west coast of India. The ship then travels through the Indian Ocean, bound for the Maldives, Mahe, Madagascar, Zanzibar and Mombasa in Kenya. A post-cruise safari, for an additional $925, will include three game drives, a stay at the Mt. Kenya Safari Club, Samburu Serena Lodge and a tour of Nairobi.

Cost: $1,414 per person, double occupancy for the cruise, including meals, accommodations and sightseeing. Not included: international air fare. Contact: Lee Hansen Travel, 712 Foothill Blvd., La Canada Flintridge, CA 91011; tel. (818) 790-5589.

Italy 101

An 11-day escorted tour to Italy departs March 21 from Los Angeles with Rome, Florence, Venice, Sorrento and Assisi on the itinerary. The Forum, Colosseum and St. Peter's Basilica in Vatican City will be part of a sightseeing tour of the Eternal City. Participants may take an excursion to Michelangelo's Sistine Chapel or explore the ancient catacombs on the old Appian Way or shop in the designer boutiques along the Via Condotti.

En route to Florence is a visit to the Renaissance town of Siena, famous for the Palio horse race. In Florence participants see works of art, take a tour to see the Piazza della Signoria, the Cathedral and Holy Cross Church, and the Santa Croce district to view a demonstration of Florentine craftsmanship with time to shop for handmade leather goods and gold jewelry. The tour continues to Verona for a visit to the second largest Roman arena in the world and the so-called Juliet's balcony.

A canal cruise to St. Mark's Square, the Byzantine Basilica and Doges Palace, plus a visit to the Murano glass factory are on the agenda in Venice.

A drive along the Adriatic coast follows, with stops at the medieval city of Ravenna to view the mosaics of the Church of San Vitale. Next in order is a visit to Assisi, the pink-stoned city of St. Francis, with a guided visit to the Basilica of St. Francis and its famous frescoes depicting his life. An excursion to the Isle of Capri before an overnight in Sorrento follows.

The tour includes a visit to the ruins of Pompeii, where 2,000 years ago Mt. Vesuvius erupted and lava buried its 20,000 inhabitants.

Cost: $1,495 per person including round-trip air fare from LAX, hotels, sightseeing, local guides in Rome, Florence, Pompeii and Capri, all breakfasts and some dinners, motor coach, baggage handling, hotel tips and service charges. Other departure dates are available. Contact: Bonar Travel, 24 Whitewater Drive, Corona del Mar, CA 92625; tel. (714) 640-7402.

At Home in Africa

An 11-day cultural tour to South Africa departs on various dates throughout the year. Participants will have the opportunity to spend a night with a host family and enjoy a welcome celebration with the village chief at Lesedi, a multicultural village less than an hour's drive from Johannesburg. The town is made up of the Xhosa, Pedi, Zulu and Basotho peoples.

As the sun sets, guests gather with their host families to witness and participate in cultural dances and festivities. A traditional feast cooked on open coals features grilled meat and a variety of indigenous African dishes. The tour also includes a welcome dinner at Mama's Jazz Joint in Dunkeld West, a suburb of Johannesburg, and a Cape Town dinner at a new restaurant called Mama Africa. The tour also follows the path of President Nelson Mandela's struggle against apartheid, including a cruise to Robben Island, where Mandela was incarcerated.

Cost: from $1,232 per person, double occupancy, including air fare from New York, hotel accommodations, tours and most meals. Contact: 2AFRIKA; tel. (800) 2AFRIKA.

Shiny Copper Canyon

A seven-day tour exploring Mexico's scenic Copper Canyon, escorted by writer-photographer Payne Johnson, will depart San Diego Feb. 20. After a flight to Los Mochis, passengers will be bused to a colonial-era hotel in the historic mining town of El Fuerte, then depart by rail the following morning. Besides visiting the homeland of the Tarahumara people, participants will take a train ride that winds from sea level to 8,000 feet. The tour includes two nights at a posh new rim-top hotel, plus a bus trip down the 6,000-foot-deep canyon bottom.

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