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TOURS & CRUISES

Tours & Cruises

August 17, 2003|Rosemary McClure | Times Staff Writer

Live on the beach while doing your part for the turtles

Play the shell game -- and do Mother Nature a favor -- on six-day tours to southern Baja that focus on saving endangered sea turtles.

Two six-day trips, which depart Sept. 27 and Oct. 4, are planned to coincide with the turtles' nesting season in Mexico. Each night participants search for turtles as they lay their eggs on a sandy stretch of beach at Punta Rancho San Cristobal, about 12 miles north of Cabo San Lucas. The eggs are transferred to a protected nursery, where they are safe from predators. Hatchlings are then released into the wild.

"The turtles need all the help they can get," said Baja Discovery representative Lynn Mitchell. "There's a lot of development on the beaches of Cabo San Lucas, and their habitat is disappearing. There are also a lot of poachers, who kill the mothers and take the eggs." Pollution has also taken a toll on the species, the Olive Ridley sea turtle.

The sea turtle camp is sponsored by Asupmatoma, a nonprofit agency dedicated to environmental protection. Last year 30,000 hatchlings were released.

Participants will sleep on the beach in tents, dine in an open-air room overlooking the ocean and participate in activities such as snorkeling and hiking. Naturalists will assist with activities.

Cost: $1,295 per person, double occupancy (single surcharge $95), including transportation from Los Cabos airport to the camp, one night in a hotel, four nights at sea turtle camp, all meals while at camp, activities and $100 donation to Asupmatoma. Round-trip airfare from Los Angeles to Los Cabos is not included.

Contact: Baja Discovery; (800) 829-2252, www.bajadiscovery.com.

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ENGLAND

See what it's like to be the queen in her state rooms

Get the royal treatment at Buckingham Palace during London's annual opening of the Queen's State Rooms, which offers a chance to see 19 opulently decorated rooms used extensively by the royal family to entertain guests.

Visitors can see the palace on a hotel-and-tour package that includes three nights in a luxury hotel in Westminster and tickets to explore the state rooms and the palace's 42-acre garden.

The package, available through Sept. 28, includes butler service.

The state rooms are open to the public in August and September during the queen's annual stay in Scotland. They feature paintings from the royal collection, including works by Rembrandt, Rubens and Vermeer. There are also fine examples of English and French furniture, sculpture by Antonio Canova and Sevres porcelain. A special exhibit this year will highlight the 50th anniversary of the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II.

Cost: $1,090 per room, single or double occupancy, including accommodations at 51 Buckingham Gate Hotel, champagne upon arrival, daily breakfast and two tickets to see the state rooms. Airfare to London is not included.

Contact: 51 Buckingham Gate Hotel; (877) 528-2503, www.51buckinghamgate.com. Ask for the royal summer package.

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EGYPT

Take a Nile cruise and see ancient lands of Nubia

Cruise the Nile River and explore the culture and archeology of Egypt on a 16-day tour sponsored by the Bowers Museum of Cultural Art in Santa Ana.

The Oct. 18 trip will visit the pyramids at Giza, Luxor, the Valley of the Kings and Queens and the temples and monuments of Abu Simbel, Philea, Kom Ombo and Edfu. Also on the itinerary are the port of Alexandria and the ancient lands of Nubia, today in southern Egypt and northern Sudan.

While in Cairo, the group will visit the Christian and Islamic quarters as well as the Egyptian Museum. Other stops include the new archeological site of the Valley of the Golden Mummies in Bahareya and the Ptolemaic Temple of Hathor.

Cost: $4,400 per person, double occupancy (single surcharge $750), including round-trip airfare from LAX to Cairo, four-night Nile cruise, accommodations, some meals, sightseeing, entry fees and tour guide.

Contact: Joy Travel International; (800) 538-8746, www.joytravelinternational.com.

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FRANCE, ITALY

Art, shopping and still more art in Paris and Florence

SEe some of Europe's best-known art on a 10-day trip that focuses on the museums of Paris and Florence, Italy.

The Oct. 4 tour will visit the Palais Royal, the Rodin Museum and the Musee d'Orsay in Paris and the Bargello, Uffizi and Accademia in Florence. There will be architectural and walking tours with local art experts, shopping excursions in both cities and a day outing to Siena, Italy. The tour will be led by artist Amadea Bailey.

Cost: $3,365 per person, double occupancy (single surcharge $810), including accommodations, breakfasts, museum entrance fees and overnight train to Florence. Round-trip airfare from Los Angeles is not included.

Contact: Amadea Bailey, (310) 822-4504, or Pacifico Travel, (888) 251-5121, Ext. 402.

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TEXAS

Wheel along with Lance Armstrong in Hill Country

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