Spend nine days studying the fauna of the Galapagos -- which figured prominently in Charles Darwin's theory of natural selection -- on a trip starting Jan. 21 offered through Santa Monica College.
Participants, who must enroll in the one-unit class Natural History and Marine Biology of the Galapagos Islands, will travel aboard a 20-passenger yacht through six of the islands. The students will observe the wildlife made famous by naturalist Darwin after his visit in 1835, including giant tortoises, sea lions, iguanas, penguins, albatrosses and cormorants.
"We aren't allowed to touch the animals," said biologist and tour leader Ed Tarvyd, "but they can touch you. The birds will land right on your head."
The group also will spend a few days in the port town of Guayaquil and the capital Quito and visit the Otavalo market in the northern Andes.
Cost: $3,500 per person, includes accommodations, most meals, round-trip airfare from Los Angeles, internal airfare, ground transportation, excursions and sightseeing tours.
Contact: Sandy Kemp, Santa Monica College Travel Facilities, (310) 277-3833, or Ed Tarvyd, (323) 870-2548 or go to http://www.smc.edu/
FINDING ROOTS, HISTORY: MARK BLACK HISTORY MONTH WITH A 12-DAY TRIP TO GHANA BEGINNING FEB. 18.
The tour will visit slave castles -- where captives were held -- on the Cape Coast, hub of the 17th century slave trade. The group also will attend a ceremony at Assin Manso, where people bathed in the Donkor Nsuo (Slave River) before being taken to slave ships.
Visitors will see the artisan village of Elmina and historical cemeteries in the central region. In Accra, a tour of the National Museum will provide a historical overview of Ghana.
Cost: $2,300 per person, includes hotel, ground transportation, entrance fees and some meals. Airfare to Accra is not included.
Contact: Maura Williams, New Horizon Travel, Camarillo; (805) 987-6963 or www.newhorizontravel.net.
REGIONAL FOLK ART: COLLECT, OR JUST ADMIRE, FOLK ART ON A TWO- WEEK TOUR OF GUATEMALA BEGIN NING MARCH 14. IT WILL BE LED BY COLLECTOR AND FORMER PEACE CORPS VOLUNTEER GORDON FROST.
The group will travel from Guatemala City to the regions of Solola, Huehuetenango and Quetzaltenango, and villages around Lake Atitlan. Participants will visit artists in their homes and observe the pageantry of festivals for Easter.
Cost: $2,995 per person, double occupancy ($455 single surcharge), includes airfare from Los Angeles, accommodations, most meals, ground transportation, scheduled activities and gratuities.
Contact: Gordon Frost, Point Reyes Station, Calif.; (415) 663-1919 or www.gordonfrost.com.
ALPINE SNOW BLANKET: ENJOY WINTER IN THE OLYMPIC SKI TOWN OF INNSBRUCK, AUSTRIA, AND THE ALPS FOR SIX NIGHTS (DEPARTING SATUR DAYS NOW TO MARCH 26) ON AN IN DEPENDENT TOURIST-CLASS PACKAGE.
The trip includes a bus tour of Innsbruck; a Bavarian castle tour; and day trips to Salzburg, and St. Moritz, Switzerland, and the Archeological Museum in Bolzano, Italy.
Cost: From $1,149 per person, double occupancy ($179 single surcharge), including airfare, transfers and hotel room with breakfast. Airport taxes are not included. Supplemental fees are assessed for travel between Dec. 15 and Jan. 6.
Contact: Continental Journeys, Sherman Oaks, Calif.; (800) 601-4343 or www.continentaljourneys.com.
CATALONIA, BITE BY BITE: SA VOR THE CUISINE OF CATALONIA ON AN EIGHT-NIGHT CULINARY TOUR OF THE RE GION IN SPAIN BEGINNING DEC. 30. THE TOUR IS SPLIT BETWEEN BARCELO NA AND THE EMPORDANESE COUNTRY SIDE TO THE NORTH.< In Barcelona, travelers will tour medieval buildings and visit the Boqueria market. The New Year's Eve festivities include a cava tasting and dancing.
They will visit a mineral hot spring spa and stay in a country village in Emporda, where they will dine on seafood and visit artists' enclaves.
The trip includes tastings and visits to artisanal kitchens and markets. The dining experience varies from rustic to elegant.
Cost: $3,695 per person, double occupancy ($875 single supplement), includes accommodations, most meals, selected wines, one day at a spa, excursions and ground transportation. Air fare and airport transfers are not included.
Contact: Spanish Journeys, Wellfleet, Mass., (508) 349-9769 or www.spanishjourneys.com.
Los Angeles Times