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TOURS & CRUISES

Animal Magnetism in a Naturalist's Costa Rica

April 08, 2001|KARIN ESTERHAMMER | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Planes, trams and automobiles-not to mention boats and the tourists' own feet-will be used in a tour July 10 to 20 that will explore the diversity of Costa Rica's natural wonders. Trekkers will watch for monkeys, sloths, crocodiles, marine turtles, poison dart frogs, butterflies and some of the country's more than 800 species of birds. Orchids, bromeliads and hundreds of exotic plants accentuate a landscape of mountains and rivers, sandy beaches and even active volcanoes. Ron Glazier, director of the Santa Ana Zoo, and Costa Rican naturalists will escort the tour.

Cost: $2,995 per person, double occupancy, including round-trip air fare from Los Angeles, accommodations, most meals, ground transportation and guides.

Contact: Ron Glazier, Santa Ana Zoo; telephone (714) 647-6598.

France: Loire Cycling

The western Loire Valley in France can be explored by pedalers on a seven-day trip offered by VBT Bicycling Vacations of Bristol, Vt. The venture is divided into three sections, with each connected by bus. Cycling begins at Loue and ends at St. Sauveur. Cost: $2,095 per person, double occupancy, including six nights' lodging, six breakfasts, five dinners and a picnic lunch, van support and two guides. Cycling departures are twice weekly June 20 to Oct. 10. Air fare is extra.

Contact: VBT Bicycling Vacations; tel. (800) 245-3868, Internet http://www.vbt.com.

Catalina: Sailing

Cruises to Catalina are available weekly from June to September on the 130-foot historic tall ship American Pride. Passengers can help raise the sails and man the helm on the five-day trips. They will learn about ocean ecology, take a nature hike on the island and go kayaking and snorkeling. Accommodations are in bunks; meals are served buffet style.

Cost: $350 per person, including accommodations, meals and water sports.

Contact: American Heritage Marine Institute; tel. (714) 970-8800, http://www.americanpride.org.

East Coast: Cruise

Set sail aboard the Norwegian Sea on July 7 for eight nights, cruising from New York to New England and Canada. Guests fly to New York City for an overnight stay, then sail round trip for Halifax, Nova Scotia. On the way back, the itinerary calls for a stop at Bar Harbor, Maine, where options include a visit to Acadia National Park and a New England lobster dinner. The next stop is Boston for tours of the Old North Church, Paul Revere's house and downtown. At Martha's Vineyard, Mass., passengers can walk the beaches and marshland and shop before sailing on to Newport, R.I., where optional tours include visits to the Breakers and Rosecliff mansions.

Cost: from $1,995 per person, double occupancy, including round-trip air fare to New York. Port taxes of $175 are extra.

Contact: Oasis Travel; tel. (310) 446-8053.

Wyoming: Trail Riding

The Bar H Ranch is offering summer horseback trail riding trips for women in the Grand Tetons of Wyoming. Trips are scheduled July 23 to 27, July 29 to Aug. 2, and Aug. 4 to 8. These trips are suitable for riders of all experience levels. For the adventurous rider, five-day high-country pack trips are also offered throughout August. These rides will pass through or by meadows, high mountain passes and glacial lakes.

Cost: $990 for base camp trips and $1,135 for high-country trips, including tent lodging, three meals a day, all equipment, guides and experienced trail horses. Air fare to Wyoming is extra.

Contact: Bar H Ranch, P.O. Box 297, Driggs, ID 83422; tel. (888) 216-6025 or (208) 354-2906 (ask for Edie Harrop), http://www.tetontrail rides.com.

Patagonia: Hiking

Patagonia in southern Chile and Argentina gives hikers dense evergreen southern beech forests, turquoise lakes, abundant wildlife, glaciers and granite peaks to admire. This adventure combines trail hikes in three national parks in Patagonia: Torres del Paine, Parque los Glaciares and Tierra del Fuego. Dates are Dec. 21 to Jan. 6, 2002, and Jan. 6 to 22. Participants should be in good physical health.

Cost: $3,695 per person, double occupancy, including round-trip air fare from Los Angeles, all transportation and flights in Chile and Argentina, private guides, hotels and all meals.

Contact: Devy Reinstein at Andes Adventures, 1323 12th St., Suite F, Santa Monica, CA 90401; tel. (800) 289-9470, http://www.andesad ventures.com.

Southwest: History

In June the southern desert of New Mexico springs to life with flowers, and tourists can see these along with the Carlsbad Caverns, Indian cliff dwellings and fallen boomtowns of the 19th century. The tour runs from June 21 to 26. Aventura Artistica's "New Mexico Treasures" tour features a picnic at the Mogollon Catwalk, a hideout for both Geronimo and Butch Cassidy. Another scheduled stop is the Very Large Array, 27 giant parabolic antennae arranged in a huge Y pattern up to 22 miles across. It is one of the world's foremost astronomical radio observatories. Also on the itinerary is the controversial UFO site at Roswell.

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