Trips to Yosemite, Angkor Wat, Machu Picchu and eight other World Heritage areas are being jointly promoted by Expedia.com and the United Nations Foundation.
Proceeds from the effort will go towards fostering locally run tourism enterprises at lesser-known World Heritage sites. The first site to benefit from the program will be Sian Ka’an, Mexico, a pristine natural area on the eastern coast of the Yucatan peninsula.
The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization has designated 812 places in 137 countries as World Heritage sites based on their unique environmental, historic or cultural significance.
The 11 destinations being promoted at www.expedia.com/worldheritage are Pueblo de Taos, N.M.; Prague’s central city, in the Czech Republic; Taj Mahal and sites near New Delhi, India; Hawaii’s Volcanoes National Park; Yosemite National Park in California; the Great Pyramids and Nubian Monuments in Egypt; Chichen-Itza and Uxmal, near Merida, Mexico; the fortified town of Campeche, near Merida, Mexico; Angkor Wat in Cambodia and other Buddhist temples throughout Cambodia, Laos, Thailand and Vietnam; Machu Picchu, Cuzco and the historic center of Lima, Peru; and the Serengeti and Ngorongoro Crater, Tanzania.
For more information about the project or to donate, go to www.friendsofworldheritage.org.
Dive into Micronesia
Snorkel among the coral reefs of Palau on a natural history expedition to Micronesia in the western Pacific.
The 10-day expeditions, accompanied by a naturalist, will leave Los Angeles on Jan. 31, April 18, May 23, June 20 and Nov. 7.
“If you are at all interested in snorkeling or in the marine environment, Palau is probably one of the best places in the world because of the diversity of species,” said Birgit Winning of the Oceanic Society, which is offering the trips.
The group spends a week in Palau, taking day trips to snorkel or dive in Turtle Cove, Soft Coral Arch, Ngemelis Wall, Jellyfish Lake and the Rock Islands, known for their green hills, crystal waters and colorful fish.
Cost: $3,575 per person, double occupancy ($600 single surcharge), including round-trip airfare from Los Angeles, accommodations, most meals and snorkeling excursions.
Contact: The Oceanic Society, San Francisco; 800-326-7491, www.oceanic-society.org.
Camping in Hawaii
Hike the Big Island and Hawaii Volcanoes National Park beginning March 26. The seven-day camping trip travels to rain forests, lava flows and northern beaches.
Base camp is at Namakani Paio campground in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. From there, participants hike the Kilauea Iki trail, the Mauna Ulu crater rim, the Hapuu fern forest, the lava flow to the ocean from the Puu Oo eruption and the tropical forest along the Kilauea crater, and visit the Puu Loa petroglyphs.
Cost: $695 per person, including meals, ground transportation, camping equipment (except sleeping bag), airport transfers, admissions and guide. Round-trip airfare to Hawaii is not included.
Contact: Wilderness Inquiry, Minneapolis; 800-728-0719, www.wildernessinquiry.org.
The Cambodian government has begun offering 300 battery-powered bicycles for tourists to rent while visiting Angkor archaeological park, Cambodia’s main tourist attraction, an official said.
The introduction of the environmentally friendly transport was part of the government’s efforts to reduce noise and pollution in and around the country’s ancient city, said Seung Kong, deputy director-general of Apsara authority, a government’s agency managing Angkor complex.
The bicycles rent out for $4 per visit during the daytime. There are 14 repair stations within the park where tourists can have bicycles fixed or have batteries recharged during the tour.
Battery-powered bicycles boost the rider’s pedal power, increasing speed and making uphill climbs easier.
Ice Age trail
The Senate has approved a bill to establish an Ice Age Floods National Geological Trail from Montana to the Pacific Ocean.
The bill, sponsored by Sen. Maria Cantwell and other Western lawmakers, would create an auto route stretching from Missoula, Mont., to the Willamette Valley in Oregon and tell the story of the Ice Age floods.
The four-state route would be managed by the National Park Service, in partnership with the private Ice Age Floods Institute and other groups. Interpretive centers, signs, exhibits and roadside pullouts would be used to tell the story of the floods that tore through the region 15,000 years ago.
Rep. Doc Hastings, R-Wash., has sponsored a similar bill in the House.
For more information, visit www.iceagefloodsinstitute.org
Which island should you head to if you love golf? Where’s the best shopping in the Caribbean? What destination do you pick if you’re looking for the most beautiful beaches?
Fodor’s “Caribbean 2006” guide can answer these questions and many more. The book profiles 25 Caribbean destinations, from Anguilla to the Virgin Islands, with separate sections on destinations in countries comprised of more than one island (like St. Vincent and the Grenadines).
The “Island Finder” chart in the front of the book can help you decide on the right island for you, depending on your priorities. Fodor’s says the most beautiful beaches in the region are found in Anguilla, Antigua, the British Virgin Islands, Grand Cayman, the Dominican Republic, the Grenadines, the Turks &Caicos Islands, and St. John. For the best shopping, Fodor’s recommends Grand Cayman, St. Thomas and St. Bart’s. The best nightlife, the books says, is on Aruba, Puerto Rico and Trinidad.
Fodor’s rates the golf courses most highly on Barbados, Little Cayman, the Dominican Republic, Jamaica, Nevis and the Grenadines, while the best islands for families, according to the guide, are Jamaica, Puerto Rico, St. Kitt’s, Nevis and St. John.
With Air France Holidays’ “Presenting Italy” vacation, experience the best of Italy with stays in Rome, Florence and Venice. Enjoy the history of Rome, the art of Florence and the uniqueness of Venice. Prices begin at $999 from Seattle.
Package includes roundtrip air on Air France, 2 night hotel accommodations in Rome, 2 night hotel accommodations in Florence, 2 night hotel accommodations in Venice, 2nd class open rail between cities, continental breakfast daily, hotel taxes and service charges.
Nov. 1 to Dec. 15, 2005; Jan. 3 to March 25, 2006 from $999.
December 16 to December 24, 2005 from $1189.
December 25, 2005 to January 2, 2006 from $1299.
For reservations, call 800-2-FRANCE (800-237-2623) Monday through Friday, 6:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. (Pacific Time), or visit www.airfranceholidays.com to book online.
American West Steamboat has discounts on several March and April cruises along the Columbia, Snake and Willamette rivers. For example, a “Wine and Food” cruise aboard the Empress of the North departing April 2 is being discounted by $400 and now starts at $2,279 per person double. Also, passengers get free round-trip air from Washington to Portland, Ore. (worth at least $332) and a $350 “River and Roses” package for two that includes a free pre- or post-cruise hotel night and other goodies. Info: 800-434-1232, www.americanweststeamboat.com.
Southwest Airlines has a systemwide sale for travel through March 31; 21-day advance purchase is required. No blackout dates apply, but lowest fares on many flights near holidays are sold out. Buy at www.southwest.
Travel classes, seminars
Rick Steves’ Europe Through the Back Door hosts free travel classes most Saturdays at 10 a.m. at the Edmonds Theater, 415 Main St., Edmonds.
* France, Dec. 3.
* Packing light with Joan Robinson, Dec. 10.
* Italy, Dec. 17.
Classes are free, reservations recommended. Call 425-771-8303 ext. 298 or visit www.ricksteves.com/seattle.
The Savvy Traveler offers travel seminars at 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. most Saturdays at 112 Fifth Ave. S., Edmonds.
* Trans-Siberian Railway through Mongolia and Siberia, 1 p.m. Dec. 3.
* Croatia, Bosnia and Slovenia, 10 a.m. Dec. 10.
* Exploring China, 10 a.m. Jan. 7.
* Italian for travelers, 6 p.m. Thursdays, Jan. 12 through Feb. 2.
* A taste of Tuscany and Umbria, 10 a.m. Jan. 21.
* Southern Italy and Sicily, 1 p.m. Jan. 21.
* French for travelers II, 6 p.m. Thursdays, Feb. 9 through March 2.
* Learning to pack like a savvy traveler, 10 a.m. Feb. 11.
* Croatia, Slovenia and Montenegro, 10 a.m. Feb. 18.
* Eastern Europe, Hungary and Poland, 1 p.m. Feb. 18.
* Trans-Siberian Railway and Russia, 3 p.m. Feb. 18.
* Exotic Iberia: Spain and Portugal, 10 a.m. March 11.
* Gorgeous Greece, 1 p.m. March 11.
* Paris and beyond: The city of light and day-trips, 10 a.m. April 8.
* Provence and Southern France, 1 p.m. April 8.
* French for travelers, 6 p.m. Thursdays, May 4 through 25.
Classes are free, reservations recommended. Call 425-744-6076, 877-225-1994, or visit www.savvytraveleredmonds.com.
LiveWell Ventures Travel Services hosts a free “Taste of Travel Seminar” at 7 p.m. the first Thursday of each month at Brindle’s Marketplace at Camano Commons at Terry’s Corner, 848 N. Sunrise Blvd., Camano Island.
Each seminar features guest speakers. Complimentary hors d’oeuvres and coffee will be served. A wine tasting is available for $5.
For information, call 877-357-0022, 360-629-0881, or visit www.livewellventures.com.
The Herald is not responsible for changes in prices, dates or itineraries. These should be confirmed with cruise lines, travel agents or tour operators.
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