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Tours & Cruises

Whales, Yoga and the Deep Blue Sea--Om . . .


"Yoga and Blue Whale Research in Baja" (Feb. 14 to 21) will give travelers an opportunity to get close to the endangered blue whale. Each day will begin with a yoga session led by a yoga instructor. Then participants will accompany field researcher Michael Fishbach on a boat to locate and photograph the gentle and endangered blue whales off the Baja California Peninsula.

Additional activities will include hikes, picnics and beach exploration, as well as opportunities for snorkeling and viewing female and baby gray whales in a lagoon.

Cost: $1,400 per person, double occupancy including accommodations, all meals and excursions. Transportation to Loreto, Mexico, is not included.

Contact: Ocean Mammal Institute, P.O. Box 14422, Reading, PA 19612; telephone (800) 226-8216.

More Warm Baja

A series of five-day camping trips beginning Jan. 25 to March 6 is being offered to a very remote part of Baja. Guests will camp on secluded beaches where they can watch whales from their dome tents. The area is also home to several species of dolphins, California sea lions and hundreds of shorebirds.

Guides will point out wildlife and take participants on a wilderness kayaking adventure on the Sea of Cortez, where guests can also go snorkeling. Kayaking expeditions depart from and return to Loreto. No previous kayaking or camping experience is necessary. Stable two-person kayaks, paddling gear and camping supplies are provided.

Cost: $975 per person includes lodging, meals, guides and transportation from Loreto. Air fare is not included.

Contact: Sea Kayak Adventures, 1315 Indiana Ave., Coeur d'Alene, ID 83814; tel. (800) 616-1943.

Indian Festivals

Image Quest Tours will sponsor a natural history trip to northeastern New Mexico Jan. 19 to 24. Participants will view feast day ceremonies at the San Ildephonso Pueblo, where hundreds of Native Americans will perform ceremonial dances. The itinerary also includes tours of Santa Fe, other Indian pueblos and Hispanic villages.

Cost: $950 includes round-trip air fare from Los Angeles to Albuquerque, travel in New Mexico by van, and some meals and accommodations in the town of Taos.

Contact: Image Quest Tours, 1164 Alvira St., Los Angeles, CA 90035; tel. (213) 939-2819.

Snorkel With Whales

Travel to the Silver Back area of the Caribbean for up-close encounters with humpback whales March 7 to 14. The trip begins in Puerto Plata, the Dominican Republic, where travelers will board an 86-foot motor yacht, which is the base for the trip.

From the ship, guests will take launches to see the whales twice a day. This is the mating and birthing season, so mother whales with calves and groups of males breaching and lob-tailing are common sights. Participants can go snorkeling with the whales (under the supervision of an ecologist-guide) and listen to the whales' songs in the water or on board ship by hydrophone. Snorkeling or scuba diving among the surrounding coral reefs is also an option.

Cost: $2,995 per person, double occupancy, including shipboard accommodations, meals, airport transfers, use of weight belts, tanks and regulators for scuba diving, and the services of naturalist guides and crew. Snorkeling gear is not included.

Contact: Natural Habitat Adventures, 2945 Center Green Court, Boulder, CO; tel. (800) 543-8917.

Mardi Gras

Celebrate Mardi Gras in New Orleans on a six-day tour departing Los Angeles on Feb. 20. Participants will stay in the French Quarter. Guests visit two plantations and view the Endymion parade.

The next day, members explore the city on a sightseeing tour in the morning and in the evening view the Bacchus parade. Breakfast at Brennan's, a New Orleans tradition, is on the agenda with the remainder of the day free to indulge in the spirit of Carnival. That evening guests take part in the masked Tableau Ball presented by the Krewes, one of the Carnival organizations. On Fat Tuesday members see the two most flamboyant parades, the Rex and Zulu.

Cost: $1,375 per person, double occupancy, including deluxe hotel, five breakfasts, one lunch and two dinners, sightseeing tour, reserved bleacher seats, tipping and baggage handling. Not included: air fare to New Orleans.

Contact: Joan Irvine Travel, 1600 W. Coast Highway, Newport Beach, CA 92663; tel. (714) 548 3481.

Italy on Two Legs

Visit Positano and Amalfi along Italy's coast on two walking tours--April 16 to 20 or Sept. 24 to 28. The group will rendezvous in Sorrento and drive into the hills for lunch in a rustic trattoria. The walk starts in the hills overlooking Positano, with views of the sea and a descent through silvery olive groves.

Guests will take a boat to visit the island of Capri. Participants will explore Amalfi for two days along scenic stretches of trail on the coast, and along an ancient mule track to the town of Ravello.

Cost: $1,895 per person, double occupancy, including hotels, all breakfasts, some meals, entrance fees and guides.

Contact: Italian Connection, 10816 33rd Ave., Edmonton, Alberta, Canada T6J 3C1; tel. (403) 438-5712.

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