Jicaro Island Ecolodge - Granada Isletas, Nicaragua

Trips and Tips

For Fall and Beyond BY KEVIN WIERZBICKI

Hyatt at Fisherman's Wharf: You can get away from it all without actually going too far by taking advantage of the Explore Local Discovery Package at the Hyatt Hotel at Fisherman's Wharf in San Francisco (fishermanswharf.hyatt.com). The package includes a night's lodging, two cable car/ MUNI passes good for unlimited one-day use and a free appetizer at Knuckle's Restaurant.

The Hyatt is within walking distance of famous Fisherman's Wharf attractions like Ghirardelli Square, the Cannery, Aquatic Park and Pier 39, and you can also catch a ferry here to historic Alcatraz or Marine World. Use your public transportation passes to get to North Beach, Chinatown and AT&T Ballpark. The hotel has a heated outdoor pool, a whirlpool and a 24-hour gym with cardio machines, yoga mats and free weights.

For Ladies Only: Does your guy sometimes drive you so crazy that you wish you could ship him far away for a while? Why not do the next best thing – leave him here while you head to China! The Women's Travel Club (womenstravelclub.com) organizes tours, including for college women's groups, to exotic destinations like Jordan, Colombia, Paris and the Ixtapan Spa deep in the heart of Mexico.

The club's next adventure is a highlight tour of China that includes visits to the Great Wall, Ming tombs, the Forbidden City, Tiananmen Square and the Terracotta Warriors archeological site. Among the many other things participants will enjoy are Peking duck dinners in Beijing, a Tang Dynasty dinner show in Xi'an and regional cuisine in Shanghai. The nine-day adventure departs from LAX on Oct. 7 and again next spring.

Volunteer: If you'd like to get fully immersed in another culture and get a whole new set of holiday traditions, why not do some volunteer work this season through Projects Abroad, the global leader in short-term international volunteer programs. Projects Abroad has volunteering opportunities in 26 countries where while you're pitching in to make a difference in the lives of many, you can enhance your own life by living with the locals and learning their ways.

Forget trick-or-treating if you're volunteering in Peru over Halloween; you'll be playing a traditional game involving not-so-hard-boiled eggs instead. Your Christmas in Fiji will be "bright" not "white" and Christmas in Ethiopia, celebrated in January, might entail the sharing of a dish of ox stew. If you'd like to volunteer overseas and can take at least two weeks off from your studies, find a list of opportunities at projectsbroad.org.

Ecotourism in Nicaragua: Nicaragua is the setting for "Survivor" this season, and the Survivor in Style package at the Jicaro Island Ecolodge (jicarolodge.com) gives adventurers a chance to enjoy the beautiful country without having to "outwit, outplay, outlast." Forget about eating bugs; your itinerary choices at the ecolodge include chilling by the pool, getting a massage, practicing yoga or being lulled to sleep by the gentle lapping waters of Lake Nicaragua.

Of course, that's all when you're not taking a nature hike at the foot of the Mombacho Volcano, kayaking around the island, touring the nearby historic city of Granada or learning about the local flora and fauna on your way to a relaxing soak in a natural hot springs. Special Survivor rates apply through Dec. 15.

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Phone. (505) 2558-7702
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