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TOURS & CRUISES

Exploring Small Villages of Germany and Austria

April 11, 1999|KARIN ESTERHAMMER | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Get a close-up look at the small villages and medieval towns in Germany, Austria and Switzerland on a tour that runs July 4 to 18. Tour leader Ray Fike has family in Germany, so guests get to visit their home for a German-style barbecue and visit their bakery for a tour and sampling. The itinerary includes Bad Durkheim, Rothenberg, Garmisch-Partenkirchen and Heidelberg in Germany; Salzburg, Austria; and Lucerne, Switzerland. Guests will take a Rhine River cruise and ride a train through the Alps from the German border to Reutte, Austria.

Cost: $3,480 per person, double occupancy, including round-trip air fare, lodging, two meals daily, baggage handling, ground transportation, entrance fees and guides.

Contact: Travel With Ray, 21495 Silvertree Lane, Trabuco Canyon, CA 92679; telephone (949) 589- 6779.

Australia: Singles

Meet singles from Australia on a tour to the land Down Under Oct. 18 to 29. Single travelers will visit Sydney, the Gold Coast, Brisbane, Cairns and the Great Barrier Reef. Highlights include the Sydney Opera House, the Kuranda Rain Forest, the Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary and a cruise on the Brisbane River. In between are evening socials with Australian singles.

Cost: $3,695 per person, including round-trip air fare from Los Angeles, ground transportation, hotels, most meals and sightseeing.

Contact: Frances Reps of Sailair Travel; tel. (800) 759-5800, Ext. 4094 or (805) 640-6583.

Africa: Safari

The Santa Ana Zoo is offering a 12-day safari to Botswana on Nov. 14. Participants will journey to the Okavango Delta, an oasis in the middle of the Kalahari Desert. Guests will glide on the delta in a dugout canoe and explore the savanna in Land Rovers in search of wild dogs, leopards, cheetahs, buffalo and elephants on day and night game runs. Accommodations throughout Botswana will be in luxury tented camps.

Optional trips are also available to Cape Town, South Africa, and Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe. Space is limited to 16 travelers.

Cost: $4,995 per person, double occupancy, including air fare from LAX, ground transportation, accommodations, most meals and a $200 donation to the zoo.

Contact: Ron Glazier at the Santa Ana Zoo; tel. (714) 647-6598.

Costa Rica: Wildlife

An 11-day natural history tour to Costa Rica departs LAX July 15. Designed to expose participants to the diversity of rain forest wildlife, the tour will visit eight national parks and reserves, including Monte Verde, Arenal Volcano, Palo Verde and Carara. By walking, boating and driving through the parks, the group will be able to view the complexity of the rain forest.

Potential observations include sloths, monkeys, huge butterflies, exotic birds (more than 800 species), strangler fig trees, orchids and bromeliads, marine turtles, poison dart frogs, crocodiles and active volcanoes. Activities also include the Rain Forest Aerial Tram, soaking in hot springs and optional river rafting and exploration of the forest on horseback.

The tour will be escorted by Norm Cole, a professor of ecology at Orange Coast College, and by Costa Rican naturalists.

Cost: $2,995 per person, double occupancy, including superior accommodations, most meals, sightseeing, guides, entrance fees, ground transportation in Costa Rica and round-trip air fare from Los Angeles. A three-day extension to Tortuguero National Park on the Caribbean coast is available for $595.

Contact: Norm Cole, tel. (949) 497-1818, or Park East Tours, tel. (800) 223-6078, Ext. 321.

Old South: Boat Trip

Enjoy an old-fashioned Christmas on the Delta Queen Steamboat Co.'s American Queen Dec. 21 to 28. The cruise begins and ends in New Orleans, with stops at Natchez and Vicksburg in Mississippi, and St. Francisville and Baton Rouge in Louisiana. Antebellum homes, Civil War battle sites, Cajun music and food and a bonfire to light the way for Papa Noel on Christmas Eve are included on the itinerary.

Cost: $1,596 per person, double occupancy, including round-trip air fare from LAX, transfers and all meals and entertainment on board. Deposits must be received by June 15.

Contact: Don Eslinger at Historic Tours of America, 20325 Seabright Lane, Huntington Beach, CA 92646; tel (714) 536-3434.

Midway: Battle History

The Battle of Midway during World War II is the focus of a tour to Hawaii and Midway Atoll, June 27 through July 5. Commemorative ceremonies are part of the tour program, sponsored by the International Midway Memorial Foundation in Rockville, Md.

Adm. Thomas H. Moorer, former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, is a featured speaker.

The tour begins at Pearl Harbor, where the war started for the United States, and ends on the battleship Missouri, where Japan's formal surrender was accepted. Participants will cruise Pearl Harbor and take a charter flight to Midway Atoll for three nights. On Midway, the tour focuses on the atoll's military, political and commercial history.

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