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TOURS & CRUISES

Equestrian Adventures on the Costa Rican Coast

September 10, 2000|KARIN ESTERHAMMER | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Hotel Punta Islita is offering a 10-day horseback riding adventure in Costa Rica six times between January and July. Participants will traverse the Costa Rican coastline. Upon arrival in San Jose, guests stay one night at Hotel Palma Real and are then transferred to the Hotel Tambor Tropical for two days of horseback riding, including rides to Whale Bay, Tambor and Panica River and its waterfall. The ride continues on to Montezuma, Playa San Miguel and Mal Pais for a full moon beach ride and an overnight stay at the Arca de Noe.

The last two days are based at Hotel Punta Islita and include horseback riding trips to the Ora River and Camoral Beach. The Hotel Punta Islita is located in Costa Rica's northwest Guanacaste Province, approximately 30 minutes by light plane from San Jose. It sits on a hill on the Peninsula of Nicoya overlooking the Pacific Ocean. Guests can shop for handmade Costa Rican saddles during their last day.

Cost: $1,995 per person, double occupancy, including accommodations, horses and equipment, most meals, guides and ground transportation. Air fare is extra.

Contact: Small Luxury Hotels; tel. (800) 525-4800, Internet http://www.hotelpuntaislita.com.

London: Theater

Celebrate the New Year with Critics' Choice on its 26th London theater tour from Dec. 28 to Jan. 7. Guests will stay in a hotel in Piccadilly and see seven of London's shows, including "The Witches of Eastwick." The tour also includes a city tour of London and a stop at the Tate Modern, a visit to the recently refurbished Dulwich Art Gallery and luncheon in its restaurant, an after-theater dinner dance in the Conservatory of the Lanesborough Hotel, a New Year's Eve gala in a trendy London restaurant and after-theater lectures with former USC drama professor Ed Kaufman.

Cost: $4,599 per person, double occupancy, including round-trip air fare from Los Angeles, some meals, ground transportation, entrance fees, taxes, tips and baggage handling.

Contact: Melissa Truskett at Montrose Travel, 2943 Honolulu Ave., Montrose, CA; tel. (800) 301-9673.

Venezuela: Angel Falls

Angel-Eco Tours will be running regularly scheduled trips to Angel Falls in Venezuela through December. This eco-expedition takes groups of 20 into the heart of Canaima National Park, estimated to be the sixth largest national park in the world. It is located in Venezuela's Guayana territory, south of the Orinoco River.

Canaima is covered with virgin jungles, winding rivers and waterfalls, of which Angel Falls is the world's highest. Participants will fly from Margarita Island to the camp in Uruyen. From there they hike jungle paths to native villages, staying in different types of accommodations, from beds in thatch-roofed huts to hammocks. Guests will visit Pemon Indians in their villages to see schoolchildren, meet a shaman, shop for handicrafts and visit farms.

Travelers will spend the final three days in dugout canoes on the Carrao River within the Devils Canyon, paddling toward Angel Falls. The last night is spent in a camp in front of the falls. A final hike takes guests up close to the falls for a swim in a pool near the base of the waterfall. Seven-day tours depart from Margarita Island on Sept. 15 and 29, Oct. 6 and 20, Nov. 3 and 17, and Dec. 1. Other dates can be accommodated providing there are eight people.

Cost: $1,499 per person, double occupancy, including a donation of 5% toward medical supplies and local schools in the Indian communities that are visited. It also includes all accommodations, excursions, domestic transport, meals and guide. The tour does not include air fare.

Contact: Angel-Eco Tours, tel. (888) 475-0873, Internet http://www.angel-ecotours.com.

Hawaii: Big Band Cruise

The exuberance of the swing era takes the stage on American Hawaii Cruises' "Big Band Cruises."

Aboard the Independence, bands will play music of that time, including the Harry James Orchestra; the Glenn Miller Orchestra; a tribute to Benny Goodman, directed by Everett Longstreth; the Ink Spots; the Tommy Dorsey Orchestra; the Drifters; the Sammy Kaye Orchestra, directed by Roger Thorpe; and the Four Freshmen.

The nostalgic Big Band voyages, which run from May through December, include a film festival of classics from Hollywood's Golden Age and dance classes of the era. The seven-night Big Band cruises will sail on Saturday evenings from Kahului, Maui, and visit Hilo and Kona, Hawaii; Honolulu, Oahu; and Nawiliwili, Kauai, before returning to Maui.

Cost: from $1,349 per person, double occupancy, including port charges, shipboard meals, entertainment and activities. Hawaii state tax and air fare to Hawaii are extra.

Contact: American Hawaii Cruises, tel. (800) 765-7000, Internet http://www.cruisehawaii.com, or see a travel agent.

Southeast Asia: Villages

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