Women, let's walk
Strap on your walking shoes. An 11-day trip that caters to the female traveler devotes a full day to wandering the Forbidden City and the Temple of Heaven and another full day to hiking the Great Wall. Also on the agenda: a Peking duck dinner in Beijing and a social and dinner with a local women's association in Xian. Plus: the terra-cotta warriors, the 7th century Big Wild Goose Pagoda and a cruise along the Yangtze River to the temples of Fengdu. Two nights are spent aboard ship during the river cruise, which takes in scenic gorges.
Info: Gutsy Women Travel, Fort Washington, Pa.; (866) 464-8879, www.gutsywomentravel.com.
Date: June 22 to July 2.
Itinerary: Beijing, Great Wall, Xian, Fengdu, Shanghai.
Price: $3,969, double occupancy (single supplement $990) includes round-trip airfare from Los Angeles to Beijing and returning from Shanghai, some meals, river cruise, accommodations, flights within China, tour guide and airport transfers. Does not include airport taxes and fees, tour manager tips. Book by May 15 for $500 off.
Ancient and up to date
Take a split-level tour of Israel. A new escorted tour divides its focus between ancient and recent history. Visitors will take in the ruins of Caesarea and Masada as well as the Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial and contemplate contemporary sculpture at Tel Aviv's Rokach Museum. In the Golan Heights, the tour stops at a winery and a nearby mill where olive oil is made. Then there's a visit to an Israeli family, crafters of the traditional musical instrument the shofar. The eight-day tour devotes three days to Jerusalem. On the final afternoon there, participants can go to Bethlehem or visit an artisanal cheese farm.
Info: General Tours World Traveler, (800) 221-2216, www.generaltours.com.
Dates: Departures beginning May 12.
Itinerary: Tel Aviv, Tiberias, Golan Heights, Jericho, Jerusalem.
Price: $2,749, double occupancy (single price $3,939), includes accommodations, some meals, sightseeing and transportation. Does not include round-trip airfare from Los Angeles to Israel; $105 per person discount for AARP members.
The river wild/mild
Scream and dream during a white-water-rafting and camping weekend north of Sacramento. Paddlers will take on the southern fork of the American River, where the rapids average Class 3, according to Dave Mazor, president of Pacific Sports Tours, who in an interview made several references to pounding water and pounding pulses. Participants can fly to Sacramento or take a chartered bus from Los Angeles, watching movies on the way up. (The bus departs about 3 p.m. and arrives around 11 that night.) One night at camp, area vintners will pour local wines for tasting; afterward, there will be a "chicken and steak feast," Mazor said, and slides of pictures taken of the rafters that day on the river (for purchase, of course). The rafting, which includes calm-water portions, ends with participants whooshing through the Trouble Maker rapid as their travel companions look on from shore, no doubt to catch interesting facial expressions with their cameras.
Info: Pacific Sports Tours, Redondo Beach; (310) 798-1234, e-mail email@example.com.
Date: July 25 to 27.
Price: The air package is $599 per person and includes round-trip airfare from Los Angeles to Sacramento and transportation to the river site. The bus package is $459 per person; dinner on the way to Sacramento is not included.
Stalin and beyond
Dine on Georgian cuisine in Stalin's bunker on an 11-day trip led by Robert Feldman, former Cal State Fullerton director of Russian and Eastern European studies. Feldman takes visitors to major attractions and less common sites within Moscow and St. Petersburg. Besides checking out the bunker where Stalin met with his top officers, the group will also take in a private concert at a music school where young prodigies are tutored. Other highlights: visits to the Kremlin, the Tretyakov Art Gallery, the Hermitage and its Gold Collections, Peterhof, Catherine's Palace, St. Isaac's Cathedral and Pavlovsk Palace.
Info: East-West International Tours, Laguna Beach; (800) 359-6719, www.eastwest-tours.com.
Date: Sept. 11 to 22.
Itinerary: Four days in Moscow, six days in St. Petersburg.
Price: $6,190 per person, double occupancy (single supplement $1,360), includes accommodations, round-trip airfare from Los Angeles to Moscow, domestic flight, guided tours by bus, breakfast plus either lunch or dinner daily, lectures and discussions, entrance fees and taxes.
-- Amy Hubbard