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TOURS & CRUISES

August 22, 2004|Maggie Barnett | Times Staff Writer

CANADA

Deep inside bear territory

Glide along the central coast of British Columbia aboard a 68-foot ketch on an eight-day fall eco-tour led by a naturalist and native Gitga'at guides.

On the Sept. 8 tour, passengers will travel by foot, kayak and ketch into the Great Bear Rain Forest, a mountainous habitat with rare wildlife and 300-foot-tall trees, some more than 1,500 years old. The only humans to have settled in the rugged area for thousands of years are the Tshimshian people.

The area's waters and rain forest are home to whales, coastal wolves, grizzly and black bears, an abundance of bird species, as well as the elusive Kermode bear, a rare white bear found only in the region.

"One of the reasons we're doing these trips in September is because we are expecting the first rains," said Randy Burke, Bluewater Adventures owner. The rains induce the chum and pink salmon to run upstream to spawn, which in turn attracts the bears. "All the bears will be congregating around rivers and creeks," he said.

Cost: $1,995 per person, including accommodations (ketches have eight cabins, two with double beds and the rest with bunk beds), all meals, excursions and on-board services. Airfare to Bella Bella in British Columbia is not included, and fares run $200 to $250 one way from Vancouver.

Contact: Charlene Barrington at Bluewater Adventures, North Vancouver; (888) 877-1770, www.bluewateradventures.ca.

MEXICO

In Baja, a

sea turtle rescue mission

Rescue baby sea turtles from predators and poachers on six-day trips in Baja California starting Sept. 25 and Oct. 2.

Participants stay at a camp at Punta Rancho San Cristobal, a sandy beach about 12 miles north of Cabo San Lucas, where they will help the endangered olive ridley turtle during its fall nesting season by transferring eggs to a protected nursery, then releasing thousands of hatchlings to sea. During last year's programs, about 25,000 baby turtles were released.

Naturalists say the turtle population has dipped drastically in recent years because of poaching, pollution, shoreline development, roads and accidental trapping in fishing nets.

Participants will sleep in tents on the beach (camping gear is provided) and eat in an open-air dining room overlooking the ocean.

Cost: $1,295 per person, double occupancy (single surcharge $95), including four nights at the sea turtle camp and one night at a hotel in San Jose del Cabo, land transfers, meals, nature hike, boat excursion, snorkeling and $100 donation to the Assn. for the Protection of the Environment and the Marine Turtle in Southern Baja, a nonprofit agency that runs the sea turtle program. Transportation from LAX to Cabo San Lucas is not included.

Contact: Baja Discovery, San Diego; (800) 829-2252, www.baja discovery.com.

ENGLAND

Tour of London has theatrical flair

Let London entertain you on a nine-day British theater tour led by author Barbara Isenberg. The Dec. 28 tour includes tickets to six performances and behind-the-scenes meetings with actors and critics.

It also includes guided visits to East End art galleries and the Hayward Gallery, which exhibits contemporary art, and excursions to Canterbury and Cobham Village. New Year's Eve will be celebrated at the Criterion Theatre on Piccadilly Circus.

Cost: $5,563 per person, double occupancy ($900 single surcharge). Airfare from Los Angeles, accommodations, some meals, performances, excursions and transfers are included.

Contact: Susan Holden, Gilner International Travels, Beverly Hills; (310) 273-6161.

NEW YORK

For foodies, a fall tour to

the Big Apple

SAVOR autumn in New York on a five-day culinary and shopping tour departing Oct. 27.

Participants will tour ethnic neighborhoods of the Big Apple and sample the variety of cuisines for which the city is famous.

Highlights include a white-truffle dinner and cooking demonstration at the Italian Culinary Center and dinners at Guastavino's and Beacon Restaurant and Bar.

Saturday night will be spent at the Broadway play "Wicked." Holiday shopping trips also are on the itinerary.

Cost: $1,500 per person, double occupancy (single surcharge $700), including accommodations, most meals, cooking class and theater tickets. Airfare from Los Angeles is not included.

Contact: Sue Young, the Tasting Spoon, Marina del Rey; (310) 306-8851, www.tastingspoon.com.

The Times is not responsible for changes in prices, dates or itineraries. Send information to Tours & Cruises, Los Angeles Times, 202 W. 1st St., Los Angeles, CA 90012, or write via e-mail to travel@latimes .com.

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