LOCAL

Tours and cruises in Santa Cruz, Africa, China and Europe

VENTURA

Shop along the coastEnjoy the Ventura coastline and discounted room rates while whittling down your holiday shopping list with the Crowne Plaza's "Shop and Stay" package.

Dates: Through Jan. 31.

Price: From $169 per night, double occupancy, including Wi-Fi, use of 24-hour business and fitness centers, a $50 Camarillo Premium Outlets gift card (one per booking) and a Camarillo Premium Outlets coupon book (one per booking). Taxes and parking fees ($10) are not included.

Info: Crowne Plaza; (877) 227-6963, www.crowneplaza.com.

SANTA CRUZ

Bird-watching tourFly to the Dream Inn for its bird-watching package, which provides virtually everything necessary to see some of the world's freest creatures.

Dates: Through April 30.

Price: Doubles from $418, including two nights' lodging, a Carson lens cleaner, breakfast-to-go box, the Santa Cruz County Birding and Wildlife Guide and maps. Price excludes tax.

Contact: Dream Inn, Santa Cruz; (866) 774-7735, www.dreaminnsantacruz.com.

AFRICA

South African safari

Pack your camera to shoot world-class game and natural wonders on GAP Adventures' "Botswana and Vic Falls Safari." The 11-day sojourn provides a comprehensive Southern Africa experience from land to water.

Itinerary: Johannesburg to Francistown, Nata, Victoria Falls, Kasane, Gweta, the Okavango Delta, Maun and the Khama Rhino Sanctuary.

Dates: Trips offered monthly from April 2009 until April 2010.

Price: $2,004 per person, including Okavango Delta entrance; Khama Rhino Sanctuary entrance; use of an air-conditioned touring vehicle; the services of a tour leader/driver, cook and local guides; lodging and camping fees; 10 breakfasts, nine lunches and seven dinners. Price is land only.

Info: GAP Adventures, Toronto; (800) 708-7761, www.gapadventures.com.

CHINA

Solar eclipse experience

Witness the longest solar eclipse between now and 2032 with the guidance of renowned eclipse expert Jay Pasachoff. Then follow the Silk Road to Tibet.

Itinerary: Hangzhou to Urumqi, Kashgar, Turpan, Dunhuang, Xian, Chengdu, Lhasa and Beijing.

Dates: July 19 to Aug. 6.

Price: $3,999, double occupancy (single supplement $1,648), including the services of an eclipse expert, tour manager and English-speaking guide; transportation and transfers; entrance fees; hotel accommodations; 15 breakfasts, nine lunches, seven dinners and special events and local entertainment. Price excludes international airfare, entry visa and gratuities.

Info: A Classic Tours Collection, Redondo Beach; (888) 605-8687, www.aclassictour.com.

ITALY AND GREECE

Greek and Roman history

Cover the beginnings of Western civilization with a trip to Italy and Greece. Go Ahead Tours' 10-day plan gets you to all the Greek and Roman highlights.

Itinerary: Naples to Sorrento, Capri, Anacapri, Pompeii, Rome, Vatican City, and Athens and Delphi in Greece.

Dates: Trips offered monthly April through December.

Price: From $2,719 per person, double occupancy (single supplement $475), including round-trip airfare from New York, airport transfers, services of a bilingual tour director, a local city guide in select cities, personal audio devices on select tours, entrance fees, hotel stays (including hotel taxes and fees), nine buffet breakfasts, three dinners (including wine or beer), a travel bag and airline fuel surcharges. Price excludes most taxes.

Info: Go Ahead Tours, Cambridge, Mass; (800) 590-1170, www.goaheadtours..

Binshtock is a freelance writer.itinerary@latimes.com

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