Times Staff Writer

Getting into Patagonia's wild side

Gallop with a gaucho, rocket through rapids and hike to a hidden lake on two-week adventures that explore southern Chile's Patagonia.

The tours, which depart Feb. 14 and March 13, visit a remote region of the Andes, where the group will hike, boat, raft, ride and take glacier walks near the northern Patagonia ice cap.

"It's a wild trip," said tour representative John Sugnet. "You ford rivers on horseback and go ice climbing in an area rarely seen by tourists. You travel through spectacular countryside."

The tour goes south from Santiago, Chile, to the foothill towns of Balmaceda and Coyhaique before ascending into the Andes. Participants can hike in the Coyhaique National Forest Reserve, hike and raft near Puerto Bertrand and boat across Lake Bertrand and Lake Plomo as the group makes its way to the Soler Valley glacier for ice climbing and camping. Horses will haul gear and be available for riding.

Cost: $3,595 per person, double occupancy (single supplement $760), including accommodations (four nights are spent camping), some meals, ground transportation, sightseeing and activities. Round-trip airfare from LAX to Santiago and from Santiago to Balmaceda is not included.

Contact: Geographic Expeditions, San Francisco; (800) 777-8183,



Kids' program brings learning

to the high seas

SET sail for fun with a new cruise ship program for kids that includes science classes focusing on sea life, weather, insects, the solar system and the history of pirates.

The Celebrity Cruises program, Science Journeys, will be offered at no additional charge on each of the line's ships beginning Nov. 27. The hands-on classes will range from 30 minutes to an hour and will be aimed at children 3 to 12. Youth counselors will lead the programs from 9 a.m. to noon, 2 to 5 p.m. and 7 to 10 p.m. daily, whether the ship is in port or at sea.

Courses "encourage children to learn about science and nature ... and are intended to initiate conversation between child and parent," said Michael Thomas, director of cruise programs.

Celebrity sails in California, Alaska, Bermuda, the Caribbean, Europe, Hawaii, the Mexican Riviera, the Panama Canal and South America.

Contact: Celebrity Cruises; (800) 437-3111,



Enjoy winter savings in the Eternal City

Find out for yourself whether all roads lead to Rome on a five-night, low-cost package to the Eternal City.

The off-season trip, available through Dec. 11 and again Jan. 3 to March 15, includes round-trip airfare from LAX to Rome on Air France, daily breakfast and a stay at the Stella Hotel near the Trevi Fountain.

Cost: $785 per person, double occupancy (single surcharge $150). Taxes are $130 per person.

Contact: Adventure Vacations, La Jolla; (800) 600-5587.



The wine's the

thing on a quick

Napa Valley tour

Eat, drink and make merry on a three-day, two-night tour of the Napa Valley wine region.

The package, available Sundays through Wednesdays year-round, includes VIP wine tastings for two, a three-course dinner with three wine tastings; spa treatments; a winery lunch; and tickets to Copia, the American Center for Wine, Food and the Arts.

"There really is no other place like Napa Valley," said Dan Edson of Silverado Resort, which is offering the package. "We hope those who experience our Napa Valley package will be enticed to return to our beautiful valley again."

Cost: $1,090 per couple (single charge $850), including accommodations in a one-bedroom suite, an arrival bottle of wine, daily breakfast and other activities. Round-trip transportation to the city of Napa is extra.

Contact: Silverado Resort; (800) 532-0500,



Pack your parka

for an adventure

in Scandinavia

Chill out on a Winter Madness Tour to the top-of-the-world nations of Iceland and Greenland. The low-cost weeklong trip is available Jan. 12 to April 5.

"There is sanity in the program we call 'Winter Madness,' " said tour representative Griffith Steadman. "It contrasts the diversions of cosmopolitan Reykjavik, Iceland's capital, with high adventure in scenic east Greenland. Actually, Reykjavik is on average warmer in January than New York."

Reykjavik is known for its night life and shopping. Participants stay two nights in a guesthouse that formerly housed the Czechoslovakian Embassy. In Greenland, the tour visits Kulusuk, where participants spend three nights in a hotel that overlooks an ice-filled fiord and high mountains. Tour participants can go dog sledding or winter hiking or take trips onto glaciers in a four-wheel-drive vehicle.

Cost: $1,299 per person, double occupancy (single surcharge $170), including round-trip airfare from LAX to Iceland and Greenland, accommodations and some meals.

Contact: The Great Canadian Travel Co. Ltd.; (800) 661-3830,

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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