Bellying Up to Dance Classes in Israel


Middle Eastern dance classes, combined with sightseeing, swimming, shopping and dance performances, take place April 26-May 6 in Israel's Jordan Valley. The program is open to novices as well as experienced dancers who want to learn belly dancing and other forms of Middle Eastern dance.

The trip begins with a stop in Istanbul, Turkey, for shopping at the Grand Bazaar, sightseeing, and an evening sampling Turkey's cuisine, music and dance.

In Israel the group will stay at a guest house on the grounds of a kibbutz near the Sea of Galilee. The week at camp includes dance classes, an evening in Tiberias, an afternoon at Hammat Gader hot springs and a full-day sightseeing tour to Jerusalem. At the end of the trip, the group will spend a day at leisure in Tel Aviv.

Cost: $1,350 per person, double occupancy, including airport transfers and ground transportation, hotels, dinner and a show in Istanbul, three meals a day at the kibbutz, all classes, performances and sightseeing in Israel. Not included: international air fare. Contact: Kamil Muren at Genesis Tours, telephone (800) 888-8167; or Joan Kafri, 1707 Callejon Veronica, Santa Fe, NM 87501; tel. (505) 983-7725.

Mayan History

Aventura Maya is offering a nine-day "Yucatan Exploration" tour to visit Mayan archeological sites, colonial cities and indigenous markets, as well as a wetlands boating trip and snorkeling in the ocean and in freshwater limestone pools.

The itinerary includes guided tours of the ancient Mayan cities of Chichen Itza (site of the 75-foot pyramid El Castillo) and Uxmal. The eight-day "Costa Maya" tour sticks to the Caribbean coast and features snorkeling, horseback riding in the forest and on the beach and a cave hike. Various departure dates are scheduled for both tours through April.

Cost: from $1,320 per person, double occupancy, hotels, including meals, lodging, sightseeing fees and guides. Not included: air fare to Mexico. Contact: Aventura Maya, 1300 Quail Drive, Greensboro, NC 27408; tel. (910) 288-7339.

Mexican Chocolate

A nine-day chocolate tour to the cacao-growing region of Tabasco and a tour of Oaxaca leaves Nov. 11-19. Participants will explore the history, myths and legends of chocolate--and sample some too. Group members will visit churches, homes, markets, museums, archeological sites and galleries.

Cost: $1,595 per person, double occupancy, including hotels, some meals, ground transportation and air fare between Oaxaca and Mexico City, and guides. Not included: air fare to Mexico City. Contact: Zapotec Tours, 2334 W. Lawrence Ave., Suite 219, Chicago, IL 60625; tel. (800) 446-2922.

Biking New Zealand

Womantours of Driggs, Ida., is offering a 12-day inn-to-inn bicycle tour for women through the South Island of New Zealand March 8-19.

This trip is suitable for riders of all levels of experience. A support van will accompany the tour to transport luggage and give cyclists a lift when legs get tired. Lodging will be mostly in home-stays and farm-stays, the New Zealand version of bed and breakfasts, giving participants the opportunity to get to know the local people.

Cost: $1,320 per person, including lodging, two meals each day, guides, maps and support van. Bike rental and air fare not included. Contact: Womantours, P.O. Box 931, Driggs, ID 83422; tel. (208) 354-8804.

African Heritage

Jon Haggins of Manhattan Tours will take guests to Ghana, West Africa, March 10-17. Ghana was a British colony until 38 years ago, and English is the language. The country is also the home of kente cloth.

In Accra, the capital, participants will see the University of Ghana, W.E.B. DuBois Centre for Pan African Culture, National Museum, Kwame Nkrumah Memorial Park and local arts and crafts markets. Ghana is also known for the largest slave fortresses along the beaches of Cape Coast, where the West African Historical Museum is seen.

In the central region of Ghana members will visit the township of Elmina. There is time to explore these historical towns and relax on the beach. Guests travel to Kumasi, which is the Ashanti region of Ghana, to see the Palace of the Ashanti King and the Cultural Center. Guests also tour the craft villages of Bonwire, Ahwia and Ntonso to watch demonstrations of kente weaving, cloth printing and carving.

Cost: $1,875 per person, double occupancy, including air fare from New York, transfers, hotels, some meals and tours. Contact: Manhattan Tours, 306 West 38th St., New York City, NY 10018; tel. (212) 563-2570.

More Ghana

An 11-day educational tour of Ghana, West Africa, leaves Jan. 14. The tour is based on Haile Gerima's movie "Sankofa" and tours some of the areas where it was filmed, including the dungeons of the slave fortresses at Cape Coast. Lecturing professors of black studies include S. Ssensalo of Cal State Long Beach and Gloria McKissack of Tennessee State University.

A slave fort ceremony is planned as well as a drum performance. Two nights are spent in Kumasi, the Ashanti region, to visit craft and carving villages, museums and a herbal medicine center.

Cost: $2,015 per person, double occupancy, including air fare from New York, hotels, most meals, sightseeing, lectures and guides. Contact: Sankofa Tours, 15030 Ventura Blvd., P.O. Box 827, Sherman Oaks, CA 91403; or call Alken Tours at tel. (800) 327-9974.

Santa Fe Turkey Day

A Thanksgiving dinner in Lamy, N.M., is on the itinerary of a train trip to New Mexico, which is being offered through Pierce College Extension, Nov. 22-26.

Travelers will overnight on the train from Los Angeles. An Inter-Tribal Council guide will board the train in Gallup, N.M., to tell about Native American history of the area.

On Thanksgiving Day, travelers will arrive at Lamy, where they will visit the Legal Tender Saloon, an 1880s bar, and have a Western-style Thanksgiving dinner. The third day has been set aside to explore galleries, museums and shops in Santa Fe, or book a day's tour to Taos, the Anasazi dwellings and Los Alamos.

Cost: $439 per person, double occupancy, including round-trip rail fare, Thanksgiving dinner, transfers, local sightseeing and services of a guide. Contact: Pierce College Extension, 6201 Winnetka Ave., Woodland Hills, CA 93071; tel. (818) 719-6425.

Walking France

See the sights on foot on a weeklong walking tour through the Dordogne in the heart of France. Participants will walk footpaths through rolling wooded hills, limestone plateaus and lush hills and valleys to see prehistoric cave dwellings, cathedrals and castles. Tours run Sunday to Saturday and are scheduled for May 12, June 16, Sept. 15 and Oct. 13, 1996.

Beginning in Perigueux, the daily walks, led by local guides, wander through the picturesque towns of Les Eyzies-de-Tayac, Rocamadour, Domme and conclude in Souillac.

Cost: $1,895 per person, double occupancy, including accommodations at a chateau, an 18th-Century grand residence and a country-style hotel; breakfasts and dinners; local guides, and a mini-coach for transporting luggage and anyone wanting all or part of a day away from the footpaths. Air fare is excluded. Contact: BCT Scenic Walking, 7777 Fay Ave., Suite 100, La Jolla, CA 92037; tel. (800) 473-1210.

The Times is not responsible for changes in prices, dates or itineraries. These should be confirmed with travel agents or tour operators.

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