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TOURS & CRUISES

It's Coming Up Roses in the Land Down Under

April 29, 2001|KARIN ESTERHAMMER | TIMES STAFF WRITER

"New Zealand for Rose Lovers and Gardeners" journey is timed for the first spring bloom of the Southern Hemisphere, says Barbara Hoffmann, a New Zealand specialist and the tour's escort. Rhododendrons and camellias will be blooming too.

The trip, Nov. 9 to 25, will include a visit to the National Rose Show of New Zealand in Christchurch.

The journey also includes tours of private and public gardens on the North and South islands, cruises on New Zealand's rivers and lakes and a visit to Milford Sound, known for its hiking trails and spectacular scenery.

Cost: $3,399 per person, double occupancy, including round-trip air fare from Los Angeles, 14 nights' accommodation with full breakfast daily, all transportation within New Zealand, some lunches and dinners, and admission fees.

Contact: Barbara Hoffmann at Uniglobe Vineland Travel; telephone (800) 359-3772 or (760) 741-6667, Internet http://www.rosesandtravel.com.

Mexico: Ruins

Explore the ancient Mayan ruins of Yucatan on an educational excursion Jan. 2 to 10 with Rick Chacon, a professor of anthropology at El Camino College who specializes in the indigenous cultures of the Americas.

Participants will visit the archeological sites of Chichen Itza, Palenque, Tulum, Mayapan, Loltun Caves, Becan and the natural aquarium Xel Hal, with three nights in Cancun.

Cost: $1,756 per person, including round-trip air fare from Los Angeles, guides, ground transportation, two meals daily and hotels.

Contact: Rick Chacon; tel. (310) 660-3578.

Montana: On Horseback

Join a cattle drive with professional cowboys on various dates from now until October, learning to gather, work and trail cattle on a ranch in Montana in the rolling foothills of the Rockies.

Guests will gather cattle for branding and trailing to summer pasture. In the fall, cattle are rounded up in the high country and returned to the ranch.

Guests can get involved as much as they want, all under the direction of local cowboys chosen for their experience and patience. Cowpoke wannabes need no equestrian experience.

Participants will dine on ranch-cooked cuisine and bed down in their choice of a bunkhouse or tepee.

Cost: from $1,249 per adult and $919 per child (ages 10 to 12), including lodging and meals. Transportation to Great Falls, Mont., is extra.

Contact: Laredo Enterprises, P.O. Box 2226, Havre, MT 59501; tel. (800) 535-3802 or (406) 357-3748, http://www.laredoenterprises.com.

Italy: Riviera and Sicily

A 15-day sojourn to Italy on Sept. 8 will include four nights in Rapallo on the Riviera di Levante, from which trips will be made to Portofino, Santa Margherita, Cinque Terre, Portovenere and Genoa. The tour also will travel along the western coast of the Riviera di Ponente as far as Monte Carlo. On the return, tourists will journey along the Entroterre, the inland regions of the coast.

The participants will then be flown to Sicily for a three-night stay based in Palermo, visiting Cefalu, Monreale, Segesta, Erice and Trapani, and wine tasting in Marsala.

During a two-night stay in Agrigento, a visit to the Valley of the Temples will include an evening illumination. En route to Taormina, where four nights will be spent, a stop will be made at Piazza Armerina, known for its mosaics. From Taormina a full day will be spent in Siracusa. There will also be a trip to Reggio Calabria, on the mainland, to admire the well-preserved 5th century Riace bronzes discovered off the Ionian coast in 1972.

Cost: $3,950 per person, double occupancy, including motor coach and hotels, most meals, sightseeing, entrance fees, all taxes and air fare on Alitalia from LAX.

Contact: Teresa (Tess) Arieta of Travelcom; tel. (949) 830-0351, http://www.lanesis.com/italy.

Scotland: Hebrides

Visitors can take the high road, the low road, ferries and a train on this extended hiking tour of Scotland's Outer Hebrides islands and the northwestern Highlands. The expedition, set up by Journeys East of Middletown, Calif., will take place July 7 to 22.

The route is a loop from Glasgow with stops at picturesque hamlets. The emphasis will be on nature, architecture, gardens and rugged coastlines and mountains.

Cost: $3,985 per person, double occupancy, including 14 nights' lodging, meals, transport and entry fees. Air fare is extra.

Contact: Journeys East; tel. (800) 527-2612, http://www.journeyseast.com.

QE2: Big Band Cruise

The 13th annual big bands-themed transatlantic cruise aboard the Queen Elizabeth 2 will sail Oct. 4 from New York on a six-night cruise to Southampton, England, followed by six nights in London.

On board, four British big bands will play favorites for lovers of the genre. There will be an afternoon at the "Paramount" (movie and a band) plus original radio broadcasts from the 1930s and 1940s. Hosts will provide dancing partners for single women.

In London, travelers will stay at a Hyde Park hotel; the package includes daily breakfast, two theater tickets, a half-day city tour and a backstage theater tour.

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