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Savoring Mexico's Cuisine With Those in the Know


Two Mexican food experts, Rick Bayless and Marilyn Tausend, will lead tours to regions of Mexico known for their culinary riches. Bayless is chef-owner of Chicago's Frontera Grill. Tausend is the author of "Savoring Mexico."

For those interested in Mexican cooking, this is an opportunity to participate in cooking classes, to visit markets, to eat in homes and selected restaurants and to participate in regional festivities.

The first trip, Jan. 25 to Feb. 2, goes to Tlaxcala, then through northern Puebla and on to Veracruz. Participants will visit high mountain villages, explore the archeological sites of Cacaxtla and El Tajin, and watch the cultivation of vanilla bean orchids.

The next trip is to the Maya region of Yucatan, Feb. 17 to 25, and Merida is the center of explorations. The highlight will be a day at a hacienda outside the village of Tixkokob, where a local chef will cook a pig in the ground according to an ancient method. There will also be two days spent at archeological sites in the area, including the ruins of Uxmal.

Cost: $2,800 for the Tlaxcala-Veracruz trip and $2,550 for the Yucatan tour, per person, double occupancy, including all classes, meals, lodging and local transportation. Participants provide their own transportation to and from Mexico.

Contact: Culinary Adventures; telephone (253) 851-7676.

Italy: More Cooking

Celebrate the bounty of fall in Umbria with cookbook author Evan Kleiman, chef-owner of Angeli Caffe in Los Angeles. She will share her love of the Italian countryside and its cuisine on two cooking tours: Nov. 2 to 8 and Nov. 12 to 18.

Each session includes lodging in a 19th century farmhouse near Todi, two hours north of Rome. Besides cooking classes, daily adventures include exploring the region's wineries and visiting artisan food purveyors and historic landmarks.

Cost: from $2,800 per person, double occupancy, including accommodations, some meals, classes and tours. Air fare and ground transfers are extra.

Contact: Evan's Umbria; tel. (323) 936-9086.

India: Endangered Tigers

Special Interest Tours & Travel is offering the "Tiger Trails of India," a 16-day journey through the national parks of northern India. A part of tour revenues will be donated to provide technical and financial support to groups protecting tigers and other exotic wildlife.

From Delhi, tour participants will fly to Khajuraho for a visit to the Chandela temples before driving to the home of the white tiger, Bandhavgarh National Park.

Participants will spend three days viewing wildlife and riding through forests atop elephants.

The next visit will be to Agra to see the Taj Mahal. The safari proceeds to Keoladeo Ghana National Park in Bharatpur and then the Ranthambore Tiger Sanctuary. During dawn and dusk game drives, guests may also encounter leopards, hyenas, jackals, sambars and wild boars.

At Jaipur in Rajasthan, visits will be made to the City Palace Museum, the pink sandstone Palace of the Winds and, on the back of an elephant, the Amber Fort.

The final safari stop is Sariska Tiger Reserve, a former private hunting reserve.

The tour begins Nov. 22. It is limited to 10 participants.

Cost: $3,298 per person, double occupancy, including accommodations, some meals and ground transportation. Air fare is extra.

Contact: Special Interest Tours & Travel, 10220 N. 27th St., Phoenix, AZ 85028; tel. (800) 525-6772, Internet

Yellowstone: In Winter

Visit Yellowstone National Park in winter, when the crowds are gone and most of the roads are closed. Two dates are available: Feb. 26 to March 3 or March 5 to 10. Guests will stay in Jackson, Wyo., and at the Old Faithful Snow Lodge. Touring throughout the park is aboard heated, track-driven snow coaches.

Cost: $1,075 per person, double occupancy, for five days, including round-trip air fare to Salt Lake City, ground connections to the park, lodging and some meals.

Contact: Main Street Tours, 1751 W. Torrance Blvd., Suite M, Torrance, CA 90501; tel. (800) 300-6246, Internet

Bali and Thailand

Gaia Tours is offering an 11-day tour to Bali, "Isle of the Gods," and Thailand, "Land of a Thousand Smiles," March 10 to 21. Guests will spend four days in Bangkok visiting sites such as the Grand Palace and the Emerald Buddha.

In Bali, participants will stay at the Nusa Dua Beach Hotel and Spa for three nights, and at the Chedi Ubud resort for three nights. In Ubud, the artistic heart of Bali, and surrounding villages, local artisans sell batik, intricate woodcarvings and gold and silver jewelry.

The group will visit temples and attend ceremonial dances. There will be ample personal time for explorations and shopping.

Cost: $2,645 per person, double occupancy, including hotels, air fare from Los Angeles, daily breakfast, two dinners and guides.

Contact: Philip Friedman at Gaia Tours; tel. (310) 442-2277.

Holy Land: Pilgrimage

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