Tours to Best of Baja, Laughlin

<i> Hughes is a 30-year veteran travel writer living in Sherman Oaks</i>

Two new bargain-priced motor-coach tours, targeted at (but not limited to) mature travelers, provide a chance to gambol south of the border . . . or gamble across the state line.

Gray Line and Amex Ltd., a San Diego-based representative of more than 150 of Mexico’s major hotels and resorts, are offering a joint venture in a “Best of Baja” tour.

The weeklong tour leaves Oct. 30 (returning Nov. 5). For $870 per person, double. The price includes all hotels, meals and a tour of Mexico’s Baja, then a flight back home to Los Angeles from San Jose del Cabo.

Other towns on the itinerary include San Quintin, Ensenada, Guerrero Negro, Loreto, La Paz, San Jose del Cabo, El Rosario, Catavina and Santa Rosalia.


Gray Line is the only American carrier that motors across the border, providing American-style escort standards, with departures from Los Angeles, Anaheim and San Diego.

For single travelers there is a $125 supplement.

For more information and reservations, contact Amex Ltd., P.O. Box 85458, San Diego 92138. Or call toll-free (800) 262-2656 in California or (800) 262-2656 out of state.

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Sunrise Tours in Desert Hot Springs and Spa Valley Bus are starting one-day tours from the Palm Springs area to Laughlin, Nev., for $9 a person.

Although the trips are casino-subsidized, tour members are not required to periodically check in at specific casinos. They are, however, given free game coupon books and a buffet meal coupon for Edgewater and Colorado Belle casinos.

“Average age of all our passengers so far has been in the 55 to 60 range,” says Joanne Brazzell of Sunrise Tours.

Trips are set for Mondays, Wednesdays and alternate Fridays and Saturdays, leaving at 7 a.m. and returning about 11 p.m. There are parking and pickup points in Palm Springs, Desert Hot Springs and the Yucca Valley.

For more information, contact Sunrise Tours at 11600 Palm Drive, Desert Hot Springs, Calif. 92240, or phone (619) 329-7903.

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Interhostel, an international study/travel program for mature travelers, is offering a special two-week trip to New Zealand from Jan. 30 to Feb. 15.

Most of the stay, which is during New Zealand’s summer season, is at Canterbury University in Christchurch, known as “the most English city outside of England.”


In addition to Interhostel excursions to historic and scenic locations, there is a four-day trip to the snowcapped Southern Alps of New Zealand.

The price, including accommodations and meals in campus student halls, lectures, field trips and a South Island tour, is $1,595 per person, plus round-trip air fare of $1,495. Reservations must include a $200 non-refundable deposit, so cancellation insurance is recommended.

For more information, contact Interhostel, Department NZ, 6 Garrison Ave., Durham, N.H. 03824. Or call (603) 862-1147, weekdays from 4:30 to 7 p.m.

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The Foundation for Field Research, a nonprofit organization seeking volunteers to join research projects and expeditions all over the world, is seeking more mature travelers to participate.

The reason? The organization has found during its six-year existence that seniors work harder than younger volunteers.

Volunteer mature travelers who sign on for such trips contribute both their labor as well as a tax-deductible share of expedition expenses, including air fare to the location.

“Joining an expedition is not for everyone,” says Tom Banks of the Alpine, Calif.-based foundation. “Volunteers work under the direction of a scientist. They are not disguised vacations.


“Sometimes team members stay in guest houses or dormitories, sometimes in tents. Some require a lot of physical work, some not. But all require an active interest in projects in archeology, botany, marine biology and many other disciplines.”

Banks also said that the minimum age for volunteers is 14; there is no maximum age. He urges those interested to find out more about the many types of research programs available, along with the working and living conditions.

You can request a complimentary copy of Explorer News from the Foundation for Field Research, 787 S. Grade Road, Alpine, Calif. 92001, or phone (619) 445-9264.

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CORRECTION: In last week’s column the phone number for Corliss Tours was incorrect. Contact them toll-free at (800) 456-5717 or (818) 359-5358. They are at 436 W. Foothill Blvd., Monrovia, Calif. 91016.