Horseplay first, then pampering

Times Staff Writer

ROUND UP the boots and Stetson and head to Texas for some roping, herding and horseback riding.

The six-day trips beginning Sunday are offered year-round at the Wildcatter Ranch just south of Graham near the Brazos River.

“It’s not a dude ranch,” said Karen Lancaster of Cross Country International Equestrian Vacations. “It’s a really luxurious place to stay where you can do everything that Western horsemanship entails,” including reining, roping and riding.

Riders will learn methods of horsemanship, then head to the herds to learn the cowboy art of cattle driving.


Cost: $1,495 per person, double occupancy ($550 single surcharge), including five nights’ accommodations, meals, guides, horse tack and taxes. Airfare and $60 transfers are not included.

Contact: Cross Country International, Millbrook, N.Y.; (800) 828-8768,




Where the wild things are nurtured

DISCOVER the botanical treasures of Costa Rica on an 11-night tour departing Nov. 23.

The group, led by a local botanist, will journey into the mountains of the rugged Southern Pacific region and through lowland rain forests.

Participants will visit the private gardens of Ileana Tehran, founder of Save Costa Rica’s Orchids, which is dedicated to preserving wild orchids.


Participants will tour the Wilson Botanical Gardens at Las Cruces Biological Station, 4,500 feet above sea level.

Also included is a jungle cruise, a bus to the lip of the 11,257-foot-high Irazu volcano and a butterfly observatory.

Cost: $2,389 per person, double occupancy ($290 single surcharge), including accommodations, most meals, air and ground transportation in Costa Rica, excursions, entrance fees and transfers. International airfare is not included.

Contact: Calypso Island Tours, San Bruno; (866) 682-2121,




An audience with the presidents

SEE natural and man-made wonders on a tour that includes Mt. Rushmore in South Dakota and Yellowstone National Park.


The eight-night getaway begins Aug. 17. The tour includes Salt Lake City, Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming and two nights in Yellowstone National Park. The group will take a bus tour of Yellowstone that includes a stop at Old Faithful Geyser.

The tour travels to the Black Hills of South Dakota, visiting Mt. Rushmore National Park and the nearby Crazy Horse Memorial sculpture, a work in progress.

Other stops include the Little Bighorn Battlefield in Montana, site of Custer’s last stand in 1876; the Buffalo Bill Cody Historical Center in Cody, Wyo.; and the cities of Cheyenne, Wyo., and Denver.

Cost: $2,025 per person, double occupancy ($530 single surcharge), including airfare from Los Angeles to Salt Lake City and from Denver to LAX, ground transportation, lodging, most meals and airport shuttle.


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

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