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Wild winter getaways

The winter holidays have created a fifth season, one for traveling to other parts of the world to celebrate. Here are some ideas to try on.

Over the hill

The Over the Hill Gang _ skiers 50 and older _ have a variety of trips planned in 2002-03, including "Winter Park Value" in Winter Park, Colo., from Dec. 12-17. Prices for a "sport suite" start at $710 for those aged 50-62 and drop to $566 for those 70 and older. In addition to accommodations, four days of lift tickets, one day of skiing guides, two dinners, daily continental breakfasts and hospitality hours are included.

Two other December trips are a Women's Ski Clinic in Winter Park from Dec. 7-12 and a Men's clinic in Keystone, Colo., on the same dates.

The Over the Hill Gang also plans nonski trips: rafting Oregon's Rogue River or biking Lake Constance in the Alps, for example. For a copy of the 2002-2003 trip catalog, call (717) 389-0022 or go to www.othgi.com.

Mature tours

A one-week trip to Costa Rica Dec. 27-Jan. 3 is scheduled "for youthful spirits over 50" by Betty Sobel of Mature Tours in Connecticut.

The small group will stay at the Bougainvillea Hotel with day tours of the rain forest, Irazu Volcano and the capital of San Jose. The package is priced at $1,099 per person, double, or $1,299, single, and does not include air fare. Call toll-free 1-800-266-1566 or e-mail SoloFlightsaol.com.

Holiday festivals and feasts

Elderhostel features a dozen or more holiday journeys. A New Mexico trip Dec. 22-29 highlights Pueblo Christmas Dances and Winter Solstice celebrations at several Rio Grande pueblos. Prices range from $856, single occupancy, to $1,066, double.

The Phoenix, Ariz., Symphony Orchestra's New Year's Eve Concert will cap this tour, which includes studying various musical instruments and styles. Tour dates are Dec. 29-Jan. 3 at a fee of $615, single, $835, double. Go to www.elderhostel.org or call toll-free 1-877-426-8056.

Yellowstone in winter

A "Winter Wildlife Expedition" program is new this year at Yellowstone National Park. Participants observe bison, elk, coyotes, wolves and other animals and hear lectures by a naturalist/guide from the Yellowstone Association Institute.

Available Monday through Wednesday on Dec. 23 and then from Jan. 6-Feb. 26, the package includes two nights lodging at Mammoth Hot Springs Hotel, breakfast and lunch, in-park transportation, use of snowshoes, unlimited ice skating and a "Snow Card" good for discounts ranging from meals to rentals.

Price is $229 per person if you belong to the Yellowstone Association, $239 if you don't. This package is one of 10 offered this year.

For more details, call (307) 344-7311 or see www.TravelYellowstone.com.

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