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Visiting Seldom Seen Sites and Festivals of India


Asian Pacific Adventures is offering a tour to India from Feb. 17 to March 11 that visits the seldom-traveled areas of Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh and includes two festivals. In Allahabad, the group will participate in the Kumbh Mela, held every 12 years. They will also join the Bhil tribes in their elopement festival.

The journey begins in Delhi and proceeds to the university town of Allahabad for the Kumbh Mela festival. Next is a drive to Varanasi to visit its ancient temples and take a boat ride on the Ganges River to see pilgrims at prayer. The next stops are Kawardha and Amarkantaka. The tour proceeds to Satna, Bhopal and Mandu. Satna is home to the picturesque Murwara temples and the Gond and Bhil tribes.

Cost: $3,475 per person, double occupancy, including accommodations, daily breakfast, all meals in remote areas, all transfers, ground transportation, guides and entrance fees. All air fares are extra.

Contact: Asian Pacific Adventures, 9010 Reseda Blvd., Suite 227, Northridge, CA 91324; telephone (818) 886-5190, Internet

France: Cooking

Taste of Provence is offering a cooking course in France focusing on the olives and olive oils of Provence from May 10 to 16 or May 17 to 23.

Guests will learn authentic Provencal cooking from local experts. The "Taste of Provence" course will be adapted to showcase recipes using olive oil--even an olive oil ice cream--and includes several visits for olive oil tastings and discussions with local specialists, including a tour of an 18th century mill that still uses traditional oil-making methods.

Guests will also visit the nearby Bastide de St. Antoine, restaurant of the two-star Michelin chef Jacques Chibois, who is also co-author of the cookbook "Olive Oil."

Cost: $2,750 per person, double occupancy, including accommodations, tuition, all meals, pickup at Nice airport and local transportation. Air fare to France is extra.

Contacts: Tricia Robinson; tel. (415) 383-9439, Internet

Bhutan and West Bengal

Adventureland Travel and Tours is offering a 13-day journey through the Buddhist kingdom of Bhutan and the Indian region of West Bengal. The tour starts April 4. The program includes observing wildlife, the architecture of Buddhist temples and citadels, views of the Himalayas, and socializing with local people. (English is widely spoken.)

Cost: $2,124 per person, double occupancy, including accommodations, ground transportation, all meals in Bhutan, all breakfasts and most meals in India, museum entries and guide services. Air fare is extra.

Contact: Adventureland Tours; tel. (818) 980-3730, Internet

China: Highlights

Departing March 30, a 12-day trip through China focuses on the country's important sites. The trip starts in Beijing with a guided visit to the Forbidden City and the Great Wall, and a free day to explore the capital. Then it's on to Xian to view the terra-cotta soldiers before a quick flight to Guilin. A leisurely half-day cruise of the Li River will be taken before moving on to Shanghai for a guided city tour and a free day for shopping. Also on the itinerary are opera, folk dance and acrobatic performances.

Cost: $1,678 per person, double occupancy, including round-trip air fare from Los Angeles, China domestic air fare, daily American breakfasts, most meals and guides.

Contact: Hermes Travel and Tours; tel. (310) 791-5556.

Madagascar: Cruise

On June 21, the summer solstice, the Royal Star will cruise to a position in the Indian Ocean off the coast of Madagascar to observe a total solar eclipse, one of nature's most amazing phenomena.

The expedition is offered by the Harvard Museum of Natural History, the Adler Planetarium & Astronomy Museum in Chicago, MIT Alumni Travel Program and Dartmouth Alumni Colleges Abroad. Astronomers, meteorologists and expert photographers will be on board to prepare passengers for the event with lectures, slide presentations and informal one-on-one discussions to point out important features.

The 15-day excursion aboard the 220-passenger vessel begins in Mombasa, Kenya, and sails to the Comoros, Madagascar and Zanzibar before returning to Mombasa. An optional post-cruise safari visits the game parks of Kenya.

Contact: Lauren Woodhouse at Siemer & Hand Travel; tel. (800) 451-4321.

Greece: Odyssey

The Classical Alliance of the Western States is hosting a trip to Greece from June 11 to July 1. This art, history, archeology and culture tour focuses on the Classical, Hellenistic and Byzantine periods of Greek history. The tour stops in the important mainland cities (including Athens, Thessaloniki, Olympia and Mycenae) and several of the islands (including Rhodes, Crete, Mykonos and Thera/Santorini). The trip's academic leader will be David Leitao, a professor of classics at San Francisco State University.

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