Times Staff Writer

Get off the tourist track

CRUISE the Mekong River from Vietnam to Cambodia on a two-week tour that supports landmine eradication efforts.

The Nov. 2 excursion begins with three nights in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, then embarks on a seven-day cruise to Siem Reap in Cambodia.

“We go all the way up through Phnom Penh,” said Bill Morse of the Landmine Relief Fund.


“We get to some places where tourists rarely go, [in] an air-conditioned boat with gourmet meals.”

In Ho Chi Minh City, participants ride in pedicabs, visit markets, historical sites and the tunnels of Cu Chi, where the Viet Cong hid during the Vietnam War.

The cruise will be aboard the Mekong Pandaw, an 80-passenger riverboat.

The group will visit floating markets near Cai Be, the French colonial city Chau Doc, tribal villages and Phnom Penh in Cambodia.


The group will also visit the vast “killing fields” of the Khmer Rouge, Wat Nokor temple in Kompong Cham Province and navigate the Tonle River to the remote village of Kompong Chhnang.

During the stop in Siem Reap, participants will visit a silk farm, tour the Angkor Wat temple complex and the Cambodian Landmine Museum. Museum founder Aki Ra will meet with the group.

Cost: $2,499 and up, per person, double occupancy ($1,250 and up single surcharge) including hotels, ship cabin and cruise, meals, excursions and sightseeing, transfers and a 10% donation to the Landmine Relief Fund. Airfare from Los Angeles is not included.

Contact: Value World Tours, Fountain Valley, (800) 795-1633; or the Landmine Relief Fund, Palm Springs, (760) 325-6818.




Digging into the Incas’ history

DISCOVER the archeological treasures of Peru on a 13-night fall tour of seven of the country’s world heritage sites.


The tour, which begins Oct. 24, visits Cuzco, Chan Chan, Huascaran, Machu Picchu, Chavin de Huantar, Rio Abiseo National Park and Lima.

“We are archeologists, so we try to emphasize that,” said Bob Stelton of MexiMayan Academic Travel. “Our contacts there are with archeologists.”

Evening seminars will be presented on the history and culture of the region. “The usual travel person thinks Incas. But the Incas are relative newcomers,” Stelton said.

The group will make the rugged journey to Kuelap and Chachapoyas in the northern highlands to see ruins of the Chachapoyas culture, which coexisted with the Incas.


The tour also covers contemporary cultural activities, including visits to artisan villages specializing in weaving, gold and silver jewelry.

Participants will tour museums, attend folk dances and experience the Day of the Dead celebration Oct. 31 in a traditional village.

Cost: $3,145 per person, double occupancy ($400 single surcharge), including hotels, three internal flights, most meals, ground transportation, excursions and a DVD of the trip. International airfare is not included.

Contact: MexiMayan Academic Travel, Lemont, Ill.; (800) 337-6394.




Party hearty with pirates on sailboat

HOIST a sail, trim the sheets and cast off for Buccaneer Days at Two Harbors on Catalina Island.


The three-day adventure aboard the 73-foot schooner the Dirigo II departs Oct. 6.

Onshore, live bands perform, and participants will find dancing, entertainment, food and grog. The festivities culminate in a pirate costume contest.

Besides the shore-side revelry, participants can swim, fish, scuba dive and kayak.

Cost: $475 per person, double occupancy, ($238 single surcharge), including on-board accommodations and meals. Transportation to Long Beach is not included.


Contact: Horizons West Adventures, Huntington Beach; (714) 536-9316,


Send information to Tours & Cruises, Los Angeles Times, 202 W. 1st St., Los Angeles, CA 90012.