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TOURS & CRUISES

October 12, 2003|Rosemary McClure | Times Staff Writer

Cross Copper Canyon by train, in vintage style

Travel the iron road through Copper Canyon on eight-day luxury tours of northwestern Mexico aboard vintage Pullman cars.

The January and February rail tours will travel to and from Tucson and El Paso, dipping into Mexico to traverse Copper Canyon in the Sierra Madre. The train trip, considered one of the most exciting in the Western Hemisphere, climbs to 8,000 feet, winds through 83 tunnels and crosses 35 trestles.

"These luxury trips are a return to the graceful golden age of travel," said Jim Cohn, a spokesman for American Orient Express. "They transport passengers to a place and time few expect in the 21st century."

Included in the itinerary are visits to Saguaro National Park and the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum in Tucson; a boat cruise in the Gulf of California at San Carlos, Mexico; a tour of the silver mining town of Alamos, Mexico; and river rafting in El Fuerte, Mexico. There will also be a stop in Chihuahua, Mexico.

Tours are scheduled Jan. 19 and 26 and Feb. 2, 10 and 17.

Cost: Rates start at $3,290 per person if booked 90 days in advance and include accommodations, meals and excursions. Round-trip transportation from LAX to Tucson and El Paso is not included.

Contact: American Orient Express; (800) 320-4206, www.americanorientexpress.com.

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CALIFORNIA

By bike and foot, Death Valley's craters, canyons

HOTFOOT your way through Death Valley National Park on five-night hiking-and-biking journeys.

The trips, which begin in Las Vegas, include two nights of camping at the Mesquite Springs Campground and three nights at Furnace Creek Campground. Participants hike Ubehebe Crater, tour Scotty's Castle and explore Zabriskie Point on foot. They bike south through the park, pedaling through badlands and canyons.

Trips are scheduled in fall, winter and spring, including Nov. 2 and 23, Feb. 22 and March 14 and 28.

Cost: $1,298 per person, including all meals, van transfers, equipment such as bikes and tents (sleeping bags are not provided), campground assistance and tour leaders.

Contact: Backroads; (800) 462-2848, www.backroads.com.

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CENTRAL EUROPE

Germany, Austria and Hungary by riverboat

CRUISE the Danube River next month on weeklong tours priced as low as $674 per person, double occupancy.

The river cruises, which travel to and from Vienna and Nuremberg, Germany, depart Nov. 2, 9 and 16. The tour includes visits to the Austrian cities of Durnstein, Melk and Salzburg and the German cities of Passau, Regensburg and Kelheim.

Other weeklong November cruises on the Danube sail to and from Budapest, Hungary, and Nuremberg. These tours, which start at $1,274 per person, double occupancy, are scheduled Nov. 1, 2, 8, 9,15 and 16.

Cost: Included in the cruises are outside cabin accommodations, meals and daily shore excursions. The Vienna-Nuremberg trip has a single surcharge of $337; the Budapest-Nuremberg cruise has a single surcharge of $637. Round-trip airfare from LAX is available for $700.

Contact: Viking River Cruises; (877) 668-4546 (ask for package 000-08), www.vikingrivercruises.com.

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MYANMAR

Temples, arts and festivals on the road to Mandalay

Steam along the Irrawaddy River to Mandalay on a 13-day cruise and tour of the Southeastern Asian nation of Myanmar, formerly known as Burma.

The tour itinerary, which has departures Oct. 30 and Jan. 1, includes stops at Yangon (formerly Rangoon), Bagan and Inle Lake. Among the activities are visits to temples, pagodas, festivals and arts and crafts centers. Participants spend three days aboard a colonial-style steamer.

The Oct. 30 trip will include a visit to the Fire Balloon Festival, a hot-air balloon fest held annually near Taunggyi.

The Jan. 1 trip will be highlighted by a visit to the Ananda Pagoda Festival in Bagan, which includes a procession by hundreds of monks.

Cost: $2,250 per person, double occupancy (single surcharge $595), including accommodations, most meals, transfers, sightseeing, entrance fees, English-speaking guides and cruise. Round-trip airfare from LAX is not included but is available for about $1,180.

Contact: Asian Pacific Adventures; (800) 825-1680, www.asianpacificadventures.com.

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BAJA, MEXICO

Fine foods and wines, paired by an expert

Taste the newly popular wines of Baja's Guadalupe Valley on a three-day getaway.

The Jan. 15 trip will be led by Dan Chapman, wine director of Arterra restaurant at the San Diego Marriott Del Mar. Participants will stay at the Marriott, visiting wineries in the Guadalupe Valley on Jan. 16. That evening they will return to Arterra for a four-course dinner, with each course paired with Guadalupe Valley wines.

Cost: $635 for two including two nights' accommodations, wine tour and transportation, lunch at a winery and dinner at Arterra restaurant.

Contact: Marriott reservations, (800) 228-9290; ask for rate code LLRJ for Jan. 15-17.

The Times is not responsible for changes in prices, dates or itineraries. These should be confirmed with travel agents, cruise lines or tour operators.

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