Make geological facts pop to life -- and snap a few particularly good pictures -- during a trip to the Sierra led by a naturalist and a photography instructor.
The Anza-Borrego Institute's Desert Hostel 2008 trip explores pinnacles, trails, fumaroles, boiling mud pots and more. Visitors hike into Panum Crater on the Rim Trail, taking in views of the Sierra Nevada and Mono Basin on the way. At the Long Valley Caldera, near Mammoth Lakes, participants will investigate fumaroles (holes in a volcanic region from which gases and vapors escape), which provide clues to unrest beneath the Earth's surface. They'll have the chance to walk atop the basalt postpiles at Devils Postpile National Monument, southeast of Mammoth, and see some of the world's oldest living trees at the Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest, east of Bishop. Retired state park ranger Paul Remeika will provide insight and instruction, and Paul Johnson will give tips on capturing regional scenes on camera.
Info: Anza-Borrego Institute, Borrego Springs; (760) 767-4063, www.theabf.org /programsdeserthostel.htm.
Dates: Aug. 10 to 17.
Itinerary: Lone Pine, Alabama Hills, Mammoth Lakes, Mono Basin, Big Pine, Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest.
Price: $1,345 per person, double occupancy (single supplement $400); $1,275 for institute members with $35 membership fee per couple. The price includes lodging, instruction, all activities and most meals. It does not include transportation.
Mellow out to silky tunes and the rocking of waves during a five-day Caribbean cruise aboard Celebrity Cruises' Celebrity Century. The full-ship charter by Haven Entertainment features stars of the smooth-music genre, including Norman Brown, Nick Colionne and Boney James. There will be shows, autograph signings, Q&A sessions and late-night jams. The music lovers will make room for sports fans with a Super Bowl party Feb. 1 on the big screen while at sea.
Info: (877) 529-9729, www.smoothmusiccruise.com.
Date: Jan. 31 to Feb. 5.
Itinerary: Miami, with stops in Key West, Fla., and the Bahamas.
Price: Rates start at $999 per person, double occupancy (a limited number of single staterooms are available starting at $2,449 per stateroom), including onboard accommodations and meals. Does not include round-trip airfare to Miami.
Blue light special
Admire the ghostly blue light and the Nordic residents on a cycling trip to Iceland that includes a stop at Akureyri, billed as "home of some of the world's most beautiful people." Maybe so. But those of us from Southern California may be more wowed by bike routes that take you past the islands of Lake Myvatn; a lava river valley with craters formed by cooling lava bubbles; greenhouses; a geyser; Iceland's impressive waterfall Godafoss (Falls of the Gods); and sod houses. During the summer in Iceland, the sun will be out even when you aren't. The cycling is on paved and gravel roads and is described as challenging.
Info: Freewheeling Adventures, (800) 672-0775, www.freewheeling.ca.
Date: July 8 to 15.
Itinerary: Reykjavik, Saudarkrokur, Hofsos, the Trollaskagi Peninsula, Siglufjordur, Akureyri and Laufas.
Price: $5,195 per person, double occupancy (single supplement $850), includes accommodations, seven breakfasts, six lunches, six dinners, van and guide support, maps, routes, taxes; bike rental, $195. Does not include round-trip airfare to Iceland.
Go forth, celebrate
Stay at New York's Algonquin Hotel for July 4, and watch fireworks explode overhead from the deck of a boat. The hotel, a short walk from Times Square, offers the two-night Bright Lights, Big City package, which must be booked by Friday. It includes a harbor cruise for the famous Big Apple fireworks plus another New York staple: tickets to a Broadway show.
Info: (866) 406-5341, www.algonquinhotel.com.
Date: July 3 and 4 or July 4 and 5.
Price: $699 per person, double occupancy, includes airport transfers, two nights at the Algonquin, harbor cruise, show tickets. Does not include round-trip airfare to New York.
ZAMBIA / BOTSWANA
Spot a leopard
Join a Santa Ana Zoo-sponsored exploration of places where there are no bars between you and the things with sharp teeth and claws. Guests on the fall Zambia and Botswana safaris tramp through the African bush with a local guide and prowl the savanna in Land Cruisers. They'll search for wild dogs, cheetahs, leopards and other wildlife by day as well as night in South Luangwa in Zambia or the Okavango Delta in Botswana. The 10-day trips can be taken separately or back to back.
Info: Ron Glazier, Santa Ana Zoo, (714) 647-6598, or e-mail email@example.com.
Date: Zambia, Oct. 21 to 31; Botswana, Nov. 2 to 12.
Itinerary: For the Zambia tour: Johannesburg, South Africa, and, in Zambia, Lower Zambezi National Park and South Luangwa National Park. For the Botswana tour: Johannesburg; in Botswana, the Okavango Delta and Moremi Game Reserve; in Zimbabwe, Victoria Falls.
Price: Zambia safari is $9,595 per person, double occupancy (single supplement $2,995). Botswana safari is $8,495 per person, double occupancy (single supplement $2,995). Price includes round-trip airfare from Los Angeles, ground transportation, accommodations, most meals and a donation to the Santa Ana Zoo.
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