Ask T+L: Ecotours, Doctors, and Fall Leaves
We're planning a trip to Belize this winter. Do you know of any great ecotours?
—L.M., CHATTANOOGA, TENN.
International Expeditions (800/633-4734; www.ietravel.com; December 3-13; $2,998 per person), a pioneer of ecotourism in the region, offers a 10-day trip that includes bird-watching in lush rain forests—yellow-lored parrots and keel-billed toucans are common sightings—and snorkeling along the country's barrier reef. On the Coral Jaguar tour led by Island Expeditions (800/667-1630; www.islandexpeditions.com; December 15-24 and 21-30; $1,928 per person), you'll learn about rain-forest ecology from experienced local guides, visit an unexcavated Mayan ruin, and search for the elusive jaguar (as well as four other species of cat) while hiking and paddling into the Cockscomb Jaguar Preserve. If you'd rather try a smorgasbord of shorter tours, stay at Jungle Camp (888/292-2462 or 011-501/223-6324; www.belizelodge.com; doubles from $600, including all trips and meals), which organizes nighttime treks and electric-boat excursions into the Boden Creek Preserve.
What's the smartest way to find a top-notch physician overseas?
—D.R., BRYN MAWR, PA.
Even if you're the picture of health, says Dr. Bradley Connor, president of the International Society of Travel Medicine (ISTM), you should find a medical contact at your destination before you leave.
If your doctor doesn't have any leads, search ISTM's free Travel Clinic Directory (www.istm.org)—a list of reputable, English-speaking physicians in 65 countries. (Though these doctors specialize in travel medicine, they'll be able to refer you to a specialist, should you need one.) Once you're on the road, ask your hotel concierge for a recommendation, contact the closest U.S. Embassy or consulate, or even get in touch with the local office of a multinational corporation. "Expat employees tend to go to the best local doctors," Connor says. For true peace of mind, though, buy a plan with International SOS (www.internationalsos.com; from $60 per person for 10 days) or MEDEX (www.medexassist.com; from $28 per person for seven days). Not only do these policies cover evacuation and hospitalization, but they also give you access to a network of established clinics around the world.
I'd like to see New England's fall foliage by train. Can you recommend a scenic trip?
—Z.H., SALEM, OREG.
On American Orient Express's "Autumn in New England and Quebec" (800/320-4206; www.americanorientexpress.com; October 21-28; from $3,790 per person), you'll glide through Montreal, the Berkshires, and the Green Mountain National Forest in an Art Deco-style carriage as you listen to onboard lectures about Canadian history and why leaves change color,and dine on regional cuisine such as venison carpaccio with Quebec maple syrup. Though not nearly as luxe, Amtrak's Vermonter (800/872-7245; www.amtrak.com; round-trip business-class tickets from $256) is a small fraction of the cost; you can while away all or part of the 13-hour journey from Washington, D.C., to St. Albans, Vermont, in the café car, sipping Merlot and watching the countryside go by. Savvy travelers disembark early, in Burlington, which has a superior range of hotel and dining options.
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