Times Staff Writer


Volunteer vacations open vistas

Make a world of difference at a seaside nature preserve in Kauai, a children’s school in Hungary or an orphanage in southern India on working vacations with the nonprofit group Global Volunteers.

The 20-year-old organization, which places service teams in 90 communities on six continents, can find jobs for skilled or unskilled helpers.


“Taking a volunteer vacation is like going to a family reunion. You go because it’s your duty, but you end up having the time of your life,” said Bud Philbrook, president. “As our volunteers work alongside local people, they discover that, although we are different in many ways, we are all far more alike than different.”

Volunteers can join project crews in eight states and 18 countries. Among two- and three-week programs:

* Kauai: Preserving the rain forest of Hawaii by eliminating alien species from the Limahuli Garden; June 26-July 10 and July 31-Aug. 14; $1,695 per person for a two-week session.

* Hungary: Teaching in an elementary school; April 24-May 8 and May 8-22; $2,195 per person for two weeks.

* India: Teaching English near Chennai (Madras); Feb. 14-March 6, March 20-April 10 and July 3-24; $2,195 per person for three weeks.

* Arizona: Repair work on a facility near Window Rock that houses disabled residents; Sept. 25-Oct. 2; $750 per person for one week.

* China: Teaching English in Xian schools, Feb. 28-March 20, May 8-22, July 3-24, July 24-Aug. 14 and Aug. 28-Sept. 18; $2,495 per person for three weeks.

Fees include food, lodging and supervision. Transportation from Los Angeles to the project site is not included.


Contact: Global Volunteers, St. Paul, Minn.; (800) 487-1074,



A rare look at tribal towns


Wander the ancient trade route from the mountains of China’s Yunnan Province to the highlands of northern Vietnam on a 17-day exploratory trip that visits tribal villages, markets and festivals.

The trips, planned April 27 and Oct. 19, visit Kunming, Jianshui, Hekou, Sapa and Hanoi. There will be stops at the hillside villages and markets of the Yi, Yao, Miao and Hani minorities.

“This is a remote, untouched region where the villagers rarely see foreigners,” said tour representative Hima Singh. Cost: $3,760 per person, double occupancy ($620 single surcharge), including accommodations, most meals, sightseeing, guides and entrance fees. Airfares are not included.

Contact: Asian Pacific Adventures, Tarzana; (800) 825-1680,




Only women need apply

Ship out on the turquoise seas of the Caribbean on a weeklong sailing, snorkeling and scuba diving tour for women.


The March 14 trip, aboard a 105-foot trimaran, sets sail from Tortola, visiting various islands for water sports, beach barbecues and overnight anchorages. Cost: $2,695 per person, including the cruises, staterooms with private bath, meals and activities. Round-trip transportation to the British Virgin Islands is not included.

Contact: Adventurewomen of Bozeman, Mont.; (800) 804-8686,




Baja parties

at Mardi Gras

Make merry at a Baja Mardi Gras celebration on a three-day tour to Ensenada for the city’s annual Carnival.

The Feb. 22 trip will include guided tours to the city’s parade and fiesta and to La Bufadora sea geyser.


Cost: $198 per person, double occupancy (single surcharge $24), including transportation from San Diego or Rancho Bernardo to Ensenada, two nights in a hotel, one lunch and one dinner.

Contact: Baja California Tours Inc. of La Jolla; (800) 336-5454,




A new year in San Francisco

Celebrate the year of the monkey in San Francisco’s Chinatown on a four-day tour that coincides with the city’s Chinese New Year Parade.

The escorted Feb. 5 trip, which includes grandstand seating for the colorful annual parade, tours San Francisco; visits the Sonoma Valley wine country; and stops for shopping in the bayside city of Sausalito.

Cost: $679 per person, double occupancy (single surcharge $190), including home shuttle service, round-trip airfare, accommodations, some meals and sightseeing tours.


Contact: AFC Tours and Cruises, San Diego; (800) 369-3693,

The Times is not responsible for changes in prices, dates or itineraries. Send information to Tours & Cruises, Los Angeles Times, 202 W. 1st St., Los Angeles, CA 90012 or write via e-mail to