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Tours & Cruises

Temples, Gardens of Historic Kyoto

October 11, 1998|KARIN ESTERHAMMER | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Esprit Travel is offering a 12-day journey to Japan that includes the secret gardens, temples and villas in the 1,200-year-old ancient capital of Kyoto. It is home to some of Japan's most historically important and sophisticated architecture and landscape design.

In addition to visits to numerous historical sites, there are many opportunities to visit workshops of artisans and craftspeople, and to enter Zen temples for private tea ceremonies and conversations with priests.

The tour through Kyoto uses only public transportation and neighborhood walking routes, allowing its participants to be immersed in the sights, sounds, tastes and sensations of Japan.

Cost: $3,000 per person, double occupancy, including air fare from Los Angeles, ground transportation, hotel accommodations, breakfasts and most dinners, and all entrance fees.

Contact: Esprit Travel, 2101 Wilshire Blvd., Suite 101, Santa Monica, CA 90403; telephone (310) 829-6060.

Missouri: Branson

A pre-holiday trip to Branson, Mo., is available Dec. 1 to 7. The tour begins in Kansas City, where guests spend the night before departing for Branson. The tour features seven holiday performances, including Tony Orlando and a show at the Lawrence Welk Theater. Guests also visit Silver Dollar City and the Arabia Steamboat Museum. Time is set aside for shopping.

Cost: $1,198 per person, double occupancy, including round-trip air fare from Los Angeles, motor-coach transportation, luggage handling, admissions and some meals.

Contact: Friendly Excursions; tel. (800) 775-5018.

Southwest: Parks

Image Quest Tours will conduct a natural history and photography trip to the Southwest, including Monument Valley, Capitol Reef and Arches national parks in Arizona and Utah, Nov. 2 to 7. Participants will view fall colors, Anasazi cliff dwellings and desert scenery.

Cost: $950 per person, double occupancy, including round-trip air fare from Los Angeles to Phoenix, van transportation, accommodations and some meals.

Contact: Image Quest Tours; tel. (323) 939-2819.

Nepal: Trekking

Join Khojnu Nepal Adventure Treks for a 21-day trip to the Himalayas. "Mountains and Monasteries" is a trek in the Mt. Everest region. The group will visit many Buddhist monasteries, take a guided tour of the Katmandu Valley and have opportunities to interact with the Nepalese.

Cost: $1,380 per person, including most meals and guides. Air fare is not included.

Contact: Khojnu Nepal Adventure Treks; tel. (415) 339-8051.

Mexico: Christmas

Celebrate Christmas in Oaxaca, Mexico, with parades and a Christmas celebration in a private home.

Baja California Tours' "Christmas in Oaxaca" departs Dec. 20 for six nights. In addition to Christmas festivities, the itinerary includes 16th century Dominican churches, pre-Columbian ruins from the Zapotec and Mixtec empires and a chance to see Mexico's best folk artists at work.

Cost is $1,049 per person, double occupancy, including transportation from San Diego, accommodations, tours and meals.

Contact: Baja California Tours; tel. (619) 454-7166.

Latin America: Cruise

Mayan ruins, the natural wonders of the Belize Barrier Reef, the rain forests and wildlife of Costa Rica and a transit of the Panama Canal are all part of a 12-day/11-night voyage available from LifeLong Learning. Guests will cruise aboard the Radisson Diamond beginning Jan. 8 in Cancun. The itinerary includes Belize City, Belize; Santo Tomas, Guatemala; Puerto Cortes, Honduras; San Andres Island, Colombia; the Panama Canal; Puerto Caldera (where passengers disembark); and San Jose, Costa Rica, where guests explore the rain forest at Braulio Carrillo National Park by aerial tram.

The group will also explore the Mayan ruins at Copan and Quirigua. A boat trip up the Rio Dulce to Lake Izabal, Guatemala's largest body of fresh water, will provide an opportunity to see monkeys and brightly colored birds.

Cost: $3,795 per person, double occupancy, including accommodations in San Jose, Costa Rica, as well as most meals. Air fare is not included.

Contact: LifeLong Learning, 101 Columbia, Suite 150, Aliso Viejo, CA 92656; tel. (949) 362-2900.

Australia: Safaris

Explore Australia's natural and cultural highlights on trips designed like classic safaris. Natural Habitat Adventures is offering an 18-day "Untouched Australia Adventure" Nov. 14 to Dec. 1 and a 13-day New Year's 2000 departure scheduled Dec. 22, 1999, to Jan. 3, 2000.

Four-wheel-drive vehicles, amphibious planes and sailing ships enable travelers to experience the outback of the Atherton Tablelands, Daintree River, Cape Tribulation, the Great Barrier Reef, Whitsunday Islands and Kangaroo Island.

Cultural experiences include a performance by the Tjapukai Aboriginal Dance Theater and interpretation of recently discovered Aboriginal rock art. Accommodations include first-class hotels, intimate jungle lodges, bush camps and ships.

Cost: $5,995 per person, double occupancy, for the November adventure; $4,395 for the New Year's 2000 departure. Prices include flights within Australia and other transportation, airport transfers, meals, accommodations, park fees and the services of professional guides. International air fare is extra.

Contact: Natural Habitat Adventures, 2945 Center Green Court, Boulder, CO 80301; tel. (800) 543-8917.

The Times is not responsible for changes in prices, dates or itineraries. These should be confirmed with cruise lines, travel agents or tour operators.

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