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See Grand Canyon from the bottom up on whitewater trip

Times Staff Writer

Take a rollicking ride through the mile-deep, 18-mile-wide gorge of the Grand Canyon on a whitewater trip that will get you in sync with the rhythm of the Colorado River.

The 240-mile raft trip, which traverses the distance of the Grand Canyon, is considered one of the premier whitewater rides in the world. It starts at Lees Ferry, Ariz., just below Lake Powell, and ends at Lake Mead. In between, paddle rafts and oar-powered boats drift with the river, gliding through quiet stretches and racing through rapids.

The trip differs from many others because the boats are not motorized. “You move at the pace of the river,” said tour organizer John Vale. “The trip is quiet, with enough time to hike and explore side canyons, waterfalls and grottoes. It’s a true getaway.”

Trips run from late April through September. The full river excursion is 13 days, but nine- and five-day trips are also available. The shorter trips require a hike into or out of the canyon, a nine-mile journey that includes a 5,000-foot elevation change.

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Cost: Trips range from $1,340 per person for five days to $2,910 per person for 13 days. Included are food, sleeping gear, tents and guide service. Some trips also include a motel stay before the beginning of the trip. Transportation to Lees Ferry is not included.

Contact: Flagstaff, Ariz.-based Outdoors Unlimited; (800) 637-RAFT (7238), www.outdoorsunlimited.com.

More information on Grand Canyon whitewater trips -- and a list of commercial outfitters -- can be found on the National Park Service site, www.nps.gov/grca/river.

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EUROPE

Curtains rise on

a continent full

of music festivals

Hear the sounds of music echo from concert halls across Europe this spring and summer when the annual opera and music festival season gets underway.

A tour of Bayreuth, Germany, home of Richard Wagner, is among those planned by Los Angeles tour agency International Curtain Call. The agency has planned seven European music tours this year.

“In Bayreuth we’ll hear Wagner’s music in the theater Wagner designed and built,” said Jerome Glaser, tour organizer. “It has some of the finest acoustics in the world.” The Aug. 17-to-31 tour also visits Salzburg, Austria, birthplace of Mozart, where the group will take a musical tour and attend performances.

Other European tours planned this year include Prague, Czech Republic, and Vienna, June 6 to 19; Paris and Provence, France, festivals, July 7 to 21; Verona, Italy, and Munich, Germany, festivals, July 20 to Aug. 1; and Italy’s summer festivals in Verona, Macerata and Pesaro, Aug. 4 to 17.

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Cost: The Bayreuth trip is $6,825 per person, double occupancy, including accommodations, most meals, admission to seven operas and two concerts, tour manager and sightseeing. International airfare is not included.

Contact: International Curtain Call; (310) 204-4934 ([800] 669-9070 outside California), www.iccoperatours.com.

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OHIO, KENTUCKY

Follow the tracks

of Underground Railroad history

Explore the historic Underground Railroad -- a network of safe houses used by slaves as they fled the South on their way to freedom in the North -- on seven-day tours planned May 12 and Sept. 8.

The tours will concentrate on a 100-mile stretch of the Ohio River between Lexington, Ky., and Cincinnati. They will be guided by retired Kentucky educator Jerry Gore, the descendant of a slave, who will trace the trails along the Ohio River that were once used by fugitives and the abolitionists who assisted them.

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The trip includes stops in Lexington at the Kentucky Horse Park and the Bardstown, Ky., residence that inspired Stephen Foster to write “My Old Kentucky Home.”

Cost: $1,574 per person, double occupancy, including home pickup and drop-off, round-trip airfare from LAX to Cincinnati, accommodations, two meals a day, internal transportation and escort.

Contact: Palm Springs-based Gadabout Tours; (800) 952-5068, www.gadabouttours.com.

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SCOTLAND

Setting up easels in the Highlands and Midlands

LIVE like royalty on a watercolor painting tour to Scotland that’s based in a private castle in the Midlands.

Participants on the July 20-to-28 trip will stay at 17th century Blackcraig Castle in Perthshire, where they will receive daily art instruction from West Coast watercolorist Jill Mueller. There will also be painting trips to the Highlands near Braemar and to Dunkeld and Edzell Castle in Angus.

Cost: $1,095 per person, double occupancy. Non-painting tour members are $995. The price includes accommodations (with shared bath) and most meals. International airfare from LAX to Scotland is not included.

Contact: Lady Jill’s Fine Arts; (877) 700-7769, www.ladyjill.com.

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CALIFORNIA

Soar and sail on

a Channel Islands outdoor adventure

Learn the ropes aboard a 72-foot sailing ship on an eight-day fly-in/sail-away excursion to Channel Islands National Park.

The trips, planned July 18 and Aug. 15, begin with a flight to Santa Rosa Island, where participants camp for three days and explore remote areas of the island. From there they board the schooner Dirigo II and sail to Santa Cruz Island for three more days of exploration. The next stop is Catalina Island before the group returns to Long Beach.

Cost: $1,375 per person, including transportation, camping gear and tent setup, ground transfers and guide service.

Contact: Horizons West Adventures; (562) 799-3880, www.horizonswestadventures.com.

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


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