Follow the trail of the ill-fated Donner party from Kansas City, Mo., to Donner Lake, Calif., from Oct. 24 to 31. The excursion is by tour bus, but in one section participants will ride in covered wagons and will have the option of taking a side trip in four-wheel-drive vehicles to see trail remnants and the infamous Hastings Cutoff, which the pioneers took disastrously. The tour ends 152 years to the day that the Donners were stranded in the Sierra for the winter.
Cost: $1,475 per person, double occupancy, including eight nights lodging, motor coach transportation, baggage handling, 22 meals, all fees and admissions to tour events, and gratuities. Transportation to Missouri is not included.
Contact: Frankye Craig, Events By Design, 1410 Copper Point Circle, Reno, NV 89509; telephone (702) 828-1530.
Aventura Artistica is offering a trip to New Mexico that features a camp-out in Chaco Canyon and a performance of "Madame Butterfly" at the Santa Fe Opera with a preview dinner that includes a lecture about the opera. The tour runs Aug. 19 to 23. Also planned is a visit to the Georgia O'Keeffe Museum, a Southwest cooking class, and a visit to Santa Fe's annual Indian Market. The first night is spent in Durango, Colo.
Cost: $900 per person, double occupancy, including ground transportation, lodging, tent stay at Chaco Canyon, most meals, entrance fees and cooking class. Air fare to and from Albuquerque is not included.
Contact: Aventura Artistica; tel. (800) 808-7352.
A travel/study course to France's Provence region is available for lovers of interior design and architecture Sept. 1 to 10. Participants will study antique French furniture and view architecture and intimate interiors while experiencing the culture, art, food, wine and festivals of this region.
The group will have its own bus, driver and professional guide, and each day will explore antique marketplaces, flea markets, museums of art and antiquities, and authentic 18th century cha^teaux and farmhouses, as well as architecture from the 1st century BC through the 19th century. Areas visited include Aix-en-Provence, L'Isle-sur-la-Sorgue, Ni^mes, Avignon, Arles and Tarascon.
Cost: $2,785 per person, double occupancy, including round-trip air fare from New York on Air France, hotel accommodations, some meals and sightseeing.
Contact: Florence Pion, ASID-Habitat Interior Design Seminars, 420 N.E. 24th Court, Boca Raton, FL 33431; tel. (561) 362-5966.
A 17-day journey that follows the valley of the Mekong through Laos from the Golden Triangle to the Kong Falls near the Cambodian border begins Nov. 4. Travelers will see tribal villages, pre-Angkorian ruins, Buddhist shrines and the waterfalls of the Four Thousand Islands. Guests will ride elephants and visit the cities of Vientiane, Luang Prabang, Savannakhet and Pakxe. Also visited is the Plain of Jars, a unique area in Laos containing stone jars from a prehistoric civilization. This is not a luxury tour. Although there are some very nice hotel stays, hotels along the river can be very basic. The trip is limited to 10 participants.
Cost: $3,495 per person, double occupancy, including air fare from Los Angeles, lodging, all meals and sightseeing. A discount of $200 is offered if booked before June 15.
Contact: Andy at Ivanhoe Travel, 1012 Grand Ave., San Diego, CA 92109; tel. (800) 470-4428.
The Inca Empire, the Amazon and the Andes are combined on 14-day trips to Peru. Guests visit Cuzco, Machu Picchu, the fortress of Ollantaytambo, the Indian markets at Chincheros and Pisac, as well as lesser known Inca ruins, and Lima. The trips leave Aug. 5, Oct. 9 and Dec. 18. Participants will also visit Indian village schools and distribute supplies.
Cost: $2,599 per person, double occupancy, including air fare from LAX, flights within Peru, hotels, all sightseeing, overnight in Machu Picchu, three days at an Amazon lodge, all transfers and some meals.
Contact: Escapes Unlimited, 626 E. Chapman Ave., Orange, CA 92866; tel. (800) 243-7227 or (714) 771-3154.
Two tours are available this fall to the colonial town of Oaxaca, Mexico. The first is called "Food of the Gods Festival," Oct. 3 to 10, which explores the traditional cuisines of Oaxaca. "To Market, To Market," Nov. 13 to 20, is a shopping tour to the many crafts markets.
Cost: from $499 per person, double occupancy, depending on choice of hotel. Tours include airport transfers, daily breakfast, five dinners, market tours and craft exhibitions. Air fare is extra.
Contact: Nancy Selby, Your Travel Agent, 445 S. Emma Ave., Ventura, CA 93003; tel. (800) 537-2369.
A 10-night trip to Iceland will focus on the study of the geology, bird life and history of the island's Viking heritage.
LifeLong Learning's itinerary includes visits to: Heimaey, Westmann Islands, a quaint fishing town partially buried by a massive 1973 volcanic eruption; Vatnajokull, a snowfield road that climbs more than 2,500 feet where guests can explore iceberg caves and go snowmobiling atop the glacier; Lake Myvatn, with its boiling sulfur pits and volcanic cones; and Grimsey Island, the northernmost spot in Iceland.
Cost: $3,995 per person, double occupancy, including round-trip air transportation from New York, accommodations, most meals and naturalist guide.
Contact: LifeLong Learning; tel. (800) 854-4080.
The Times is not responsible for changes in prices, dates or itineraries. These should be confirmed with cruise lines, travel agents or tour operators.