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TOURS & CRUISES | AFRICA

See big game and coral reefs

October 15, 2006|Maggie Barnett | Times Staff Writer

EXPLORE Tanzania, including Zanzibar and little-known Chumbe Island, on an 11-night trip that departs Feb. 16.

Travelers visit Lake Manyara, Ngorongoro Crater and Dar es Salaam. They tour old palaces and spice markets in Zanzibar and snorkel and hike on Chumbe Island.

The group visits Seacology project sites on Chumbe, including an installation that protects the Chumbe Island Coral Park, a pristine coral reef preserve extending into the Indian Ocean.

Seacology is a nonprofit organization focused on the preservation of island biodiversity worldwide. "Seacology trips go where tourists could never go in a million years," said spokesman Duane Silverstein. "We fund local villages. We then can take our guests to ceremonies that no one else would ever see."

The group will travel in 4-wheel-drive vehicles to look for game in Lake Manyara National Park and the Ngorongoro Conservation Area. The park is home to gazelles, hippopotamuses, baboons, giraffes and more than 400 species of birds.

The animal population of Ngorongoro numbers about 25,000; it is one of the best places in Africa to see the rare black rhino.

Cost: $5,800 per person, double occupancy, 11 nights lodging, domestic flights, transfers, meals, six days of guided game drives, sightseeing, park fees and temporary membership in the Flying Doctors Service. International airfare is not included.

Contact: Seacology, Berkeley; (510) 559-3505, www.seacology.org.

BRITAIN

Backstage on the West End

TROLL the London theaters and tour the city on an educational trip that begins Dec. 26.

The six-night tour includes tickets to three performances, an excursion to Stratford-upon-Avon, the Globe Theatre and the Royal National Theatre.

One play on the itinerary is "Merry Wives the Musical," starring Oscar-winner Judi Dench at Stratford-upon-Avon.

Travel arrangements are through Break-Away Tours, San Diego.

Cost: $1,795 per person, double occupancy ($599 single surcharge), including round-trip airfare from L.A., hotel accommodations, some meals, tickets, tours and airport transfers.

Contact: Ron Scarlata, El Camino College, Torrance; (310) 320-7534.

NEVADA AND ARIZONA

Starting the year in Grand Canyon style

CELEBRATE New Year's without the crowds and leave the driving to the engineer on a train trip to the Grand Canyon and Las Vegas for six nights starting Dec. 29.

The group will ride Amtrak from Los Angeles to Winslow, Ariz., take a bus tour of the Painted Desert and then go to Williams, where participants transfer to the historic Grand Canyon Railway for the scenic ride to the South Rim.

The group rings in the New Year at the Maswik Lodge in Grand Canyon National Park and spends New Year's Day sightseeing in the park. The tour group then hops a bus to Las Vegas for three nights at the Bellagio.

Cost: $1,895 to $1,990 per person, double occupancy ($500 single surcharge), including train transportation from Los Angeles, accommodations, most meals and airfare or coach transportation from Las Vegas to Los Angeles.

Contact: Uncommon Journeys/Train Holidays, Oakland; (800) 543-2846, www.trainholidays.com.

ITALY

Powder in

the Piedmont

HIT the slopes of Sestriere on a ski vacation to the Piedmont region of Italy that begins Jan. 24.

The nine-night escorted trip includes two nights in Turin and seven in Sestriere, home to the 2006 Winter Olympics and 74 miles of downhill runs, some starting at an altitude of 9,260 feet.

The region produces more than 160 types of cheeses, Barolo and Barbaresco wines, truffles and regional pastries. City walking tours are optional.

Cost: $1,899 per person, double occupancy ($650 single surcharge), including round-trip international airfare from Los Angeles, accommodations, most meals, transfers and hotel taxes. Airport taxes, ski equipment and lift tickets are not included.

Contact: Carlucci Tours, Lake Havasu City, Ariz.; (928) 854-3081.

ARGENTINA & CHILE

Sip wine, get a taste of tango

WINE and dine your way through Chile and Argentina on winery tours that leave Nov. 21 and Dec. 21.

The eight-night tours will focus on the cities of Santiago in Chile, Mendoza Province, the center of Argentina's wine industry, and Buenos Aires.

Led by a sommelier, the group will visit numerous wineries, including Concha y Toro, Alma Viva and Coucino Macul, around Santiago.

Participants stay one night at Santa Rita Winery near Santiago and one night at the Cavas Wine Lodge in the Mendoza region.

In Buenos Aires, they walk the shopping districts, tour museums and see a tango performance.

Cost: $3,795 to $4,795 ($900 single surcharge), including hotels, meals, internal ground and air transportation, gratuities and taxes. International airfare is not included.

Contact: Pinnacle Luxury Tours, Laguna Hills; (888) 560-5765, www.pinnacleluxurytours.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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