Tour company specializes in Central America
When asked to name his favorite tour companies for both quality of experience and great value, Arthur Frommer often mentioned Capricorn Leisure, www.capricorn.net.
The British company has many fine trips to Central America, including Costa Rica. Its Volcano and Cloud Forest trip includes round-trip airfare on American Airlines from Chicago, a rental car, four nights at the Arenal Volcano Observatory Lodge and three nights at the Monteverde Lodge for $929 per person, double.
Prefer beaches? Try its trip to the Flamingo Beach Resort on the less-visited Pacific coast of Costa Rica, in the province of Guanacaste, where the beach is reportedly one of the most beautiful in Costa Rica. The trip includes air from Chicago, seven nights at the resort, daily breakfast and transfers, and is $819 per person, double. Capricorn also offers good-value trips to Belize, Nicaragua, Panama and Honduras.
If you love both reading and travel, "Literary Destinations" by Shannon McKenna Schmidt and Joni Rendon, published in hardback by National Geographic Books at $25, is for you.
It's also perfect for those who would love to walk the moors of Sherlock Holmes mysteries or see the ornate houses described in Edith Wharton's novels. The first section is focused on the best literary experiences in the world: Author Houses and Museums, Writers at Home and Abroad, Literary Festivals and Tours and Literary Places to Drink, Dine and Doze.
The second part describes 10 locales made famous by noted novelists, from Jane Austen's Bath to Victor Hugo's Paris, to Nathaniel Hawthorne's Salem, Mass., to John Steinbeck's Monterey and Salinas, Calif.
There are many literary walking tours that beckon the reader, from the Dashiell Hammett Walking Tour in San Francisco to informal notes on how to find Sherlock Holmes' London haunts on your own. Hemingway fans are led from Oak Park, Ill., to Key West, Fla., to Ketchum, Idaho, to Havana, Cuba, to Paris.
This is a great guide to planning a literary vacation, or it can give you ideas for a literary stop or two to weave into a longer, more general trip.
"Riding the HulaHula to the Arctic Ocean" by Don Mankin and Shannon Stowell, is also published by National Geographic Books, at $18.95. It is a collection of essays by various writers on adventure tours they have taken through commercial adventure tour companies.
The writing is matter-of-fact and the pieces are full of details and descriptions of how each writer experienced the kayaking, trekking, camping, rafting or wildlife tracking trip taken. At the end of each essay is a section on what to expect and how to prepare for the trip, including the name and contact information of the tour company.
The trips described include tracking mountain gorillas in Uganda, exploring Tunisia, meeting ethnic tribes in Guizhou, China, sailing in the Kingdom of Tonga, and, of course, the float and hiking trip in Alaska that is referred to in the title. The HulaHula River was named in the 1800s by homesick whalers from Hawaii, who found its source.