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Tours & Cruises

March 07, 2004|Rosemary McClure | Times Staff Writer

CANADA

Slow gait, scenery on a trail ride

Saddle up for a five-day Rocky Mountain high in Banff National Park, Alberta, Canada.

Trail riding adventures, available on six dates from July 3 through Aug. 28, take riders from the Banff town site into the wilderness region near Block Mountain and Rainbow Lake. The rides depart Saturdays and return Wednesdays.

"You can spend five days seeing the mountains in the best possible way: from the back of a good horse and in the company of enthusiastic new friends," said Penny Egeland of Trail Riders of the Canadian Rockies, the nonprofit organization sponsoring the trips. "This year's trip is deep within the mountains; the scenery is spectacular."

The group has led similar summer trail rides for 81 years and has riders who have made the trip 30 years in a row.

Only minimal riding experience is necessary; children must be 9 or older. Horses are looked after by wranglers, three-course meals are prepared by camp cooks, and tents or tepees are set up before the group arrives.

Cost: $756.50 per person, including horse and saddle, transportation from Banff to the trail head and return, accommodations, food, guide services and a camp coordinator. Transportation to Banff is not provided.

Contact: Trail Riders of the Canadian Rockies, Calgary, Alberta, Canada, (403) 684-4086, fax (403) 684-4087, www.canuck.com/~trcr.

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FRANCE, SPAIN

Lands where chocolate reigns

SAVOR the sweet taste of excess on a weeklong food lovers' journey to chocolate capitals of France and Spain.

The June 7 tour will be led by David Lebovitz, author of "The Great Book of Chocolate" and "Room for Dessert." Lebovitz formerly was pastry chef at Alice Waters' Chez Panisse in Berkeley.

The tour will start in Bayonne on the Atlantic coast of France, where European chocolate production began. The city is the site of many chocolate shops featuring such specialties as hand-dipped pralines and rich gateau basque, a pastry-filled cake.

Other stops will include San Sebastian, Bilbao and Barcelona, Spain, where the group will try grilled chocolate sandwiches and chocolate truffles made with real truffles.

Cost: $3,850 per person, double occupancy (single surcharge $700), including accommodations, some meals and excursions. Round-trip transportation from LAX to France is not included.

Contact: Anne Block, Take My Mother Please tours, (323) 737-2200, www.takemymotherplease.com.

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ENGLAND

Sites and sounds of Harry Potter

Live the legend on a magical Harry Potter-themed tour to Britain.

The spring break trip, April 10 to 15, will include a day with Chris Rankin, who plays Percy Weasley in the films.

There will also be dragon-slaying classes, a treasure hunt in London and a journey to the North York Moors Railway -- the Hogwarts Express in the films.

Activities are designed for children and adults, with sightseeing visits to the Tower of London, Oxford and York.

Cost: $1,789 for adults, $1,259 for teens and $1,049 for children (single surcharge $400). Included are accommodations, most meals, transportation, storytelling sessions and sightseeing. International airfare is not included.

Contact: Celia's Getaways, Westminster, (714) 901-3510.

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SRI LANKA

Even the elephants will dress up

Visit the ancient cities of Sri Lanka during a two-week summer trip that includes the annual celebration of Kandy Perahera, a colorful Buddhist pageant featuring dancers, drummers, torch bearers and 100 decorated elephants.

The July 19 tour includes visits to the cities of Anuradhapura, Polonnaruwa, Sigiriya and Dambulla. Highlights include stops at an elephant orphanage, a beach resort, a wildlife preserve and an elephant safari into the jungle.

Cost: $3,995 per person, double occupancy (single surcharge $865), including round-trip transportation from LAX to Colombo, Sri Lanka, by way of Singapore, accommodations, breakfasts and dinners, transfers, entrance fees, festival tickets and special pageant seating.

Contact: Ceylon Express International, Huntington Beach, (714) 964-6896 or (800) 423-9566, www.ceylonexpress.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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