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Tours & Cruises | BAJA CALIFORNIA

A southerly route to the seashore

July 16, 2006|Maggie Barnett | Times Staff Writer

SNORKEL in the Gulf of California on a trip down the Baja Peninsula that begins Oct. 14.

The seven-day wildlife adventure travels from San Diego south on Highway 1 along the Pacific Coast to Ensenada, then winds through the agricultural valleys of San Quintin to the desert.

After a night in Catavina the group continues to La Unica, a camp resort in a cove on the gulf south of Bahia de Los Angeles, accessible only by boat.

It's a beautiful area, said Lynn Mitchell of Baja Discovery Tours. "Some people refer to the islands as the mini Galapagos," because of the abundant and unique species found there. "We won't be visiting the islands," she said, "but we will be snorkeling and kayaking around the islands." Access to the islands is restricted to researchers.

Seven species of whales inhabit the region at different times of the year, along with whale sharks and sea lions. Swimming alongside a 30-foot whale shark is amazing, Mitchell said. The whale shark, she said, feeds mainly on plankton and doesn't bother humans.

The group spends four nights at the camp in palm-thatched casitas, with time to lounge in hammocks and hike to fossilized coral reefs in the nearby hills or down to the beach.

The return route passes through San Quintin along the Pacific Coast.

Cost: $1,495 per person, double occupancy ($95 single surcharge), including lodging, ground and boat transportation, most meals and activities. Transportation from Los Angeles to San Diego is not included.

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

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CALIFORNIA

Family hikes in Yosemite

HIKE the High Sierra on family camping trips in Yosemite National Park.

The four-day outings in Tuolumne Meadows are offered Aug. 5 and 10 by the nonprofit Yosemite Assn., the natural-history organization for the national park.

Activities include a hike to the top of Granite Dome, a picnic at a nearby mountain lake, guided nature walks, panning for gold and stories around the campfire.

Cost: $290 per adult, $125 per child, including meals, campsite and guides. Transportation from Los Angeles and camping gear are not included.

Contact: The Yosemite Assn., El Portal; (209) 379-2321, www.yosemite.org.

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CALIFORNIA

Restored warship lowers gangplank

LAUNCH a trip down memory lane aboard the Lane Victory. The 455-foot ship, built in 1945 to haul munitions and troops during World War II, has been restored by veterans and volunteers and will take passengers on six voyages this summer.

The daylong tours to the eastern waters off Catalina Island are scheduled Saturday and next Sunday, Aug. 12 and 13, and Sept. 9 and 10. Participants board between 7 and 8:15 a.m.

Passengers tour the engine room and two museums on board as the ship sets sail from San Pedro.

A band plays songs of the era, and impersonators of World War II figures such as Gen. Douglas MacArthur, stroll among the crowds.

On the return trip, weather permitting, a mock air battle is staged with the Condor Squadron, which flies out of Van Nuys Airport.

Retired naval armed guard volunteers operate the big guns loaded with blanks as vintage American planes painted to look like German fighters maneuver overhead.

Proceeds from the voyages will go toward maintaining the warship.

Cost: $125 adults, $75 children 15 and younger, including continental breakfast and buffet lunch.

Contact: The U.S. Merchant Marine Veterans of World War II, Lane Victory; (310) 519-9545, www.lanevictory.org.

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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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