As birds flock south, travelers can catch up

Sandhill cranes take flight in the early morning at Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge in New Mexico.
(Marvin De Jon / National Wildlife Refuge System)
Chicago Tribune

For bird lovers, fall is an ideal time to view feathered friends on their migration routes. A number of national wildlife refuges across the country host bird festivals from September through November. Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge in New Mexico is a popular spot with photographers, particularly in November when the Festival of the Cranes is held. This is the time when thousands of sandhill cranes and snow geese are arriving to winter at the refuge. In northeast North Carolina, six different refuges host a variety of activities Oct. 20-25 and Dec. 4-6. Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge in Virginia also hosts the Assateague Island Waterfowl Weekend on Thanksgiving weekend. Check out all of the bird festivals at national wildlife refuges at

New bike tour approach: Day trips

Many bicycling vacations move from one lodging to another on a daily basis. Sometimes that means cyclists have to cart their belongings on their bike, though often the tour company shuttles luggage. Trek Travel has a new batch of bike trips that take a different approach, with bikers staying in one lodging and doing day trips from there. An example is a six-day/five-night tour based at Blackberry Farm, a highly rated property in the Great Smoky Mountains. Priced from $5,499 per person double occupancy, it includes daily rides ranging from 19 miles with 750 feet of climbing to 43 miles with 4,300 feet of climbing. In addition to lodging, the tours include all meals, full support services, use of Trek Domane 5.9 carbon bikes, Trek helmets and Garmin GPS bike computers and more. Other packages in what’s called the One series are in the U.S. as well as foreign locations such as the Canary Islands or Italy’s Piedmont region. Info: 866-464-8735,

‘The Ultimate’ for $44,500


If time and money aren’t limiting your travels, consider Cape to Cairo ... Ultimate Journey of a Lifetime from Goway. This 32-day trip hits pretty much all of the high spots of an Africa journey, although it’s priced from $44,500 per person double occupancy. The itinerary starts in Cape Town, South Africa, and ends in Cairo. Much of the travel in between is by luxury train or air. Among the highlights: touring South Africa cities; game reserves in South Africa, Botswana, Tanzania and the Serengeti; trekking to see mountain gorillas in Rwanda; Victoria Falls; explorations in Ethiopia; a Nile River cruise including Luxor; and touring in Cairo. The package price covers all lodging and most meals, all tips, sightseeing and admissions and all transportation within Africa. International airfare is extra. Info: 800-557-2841,

Phil Marty is a freelance reporter.