Q: My husband has read that a solar eclipse will be visible over part of southern Asia in late October. What companies offer tours to the region then?
A: Several U.S. tour companies are arranging for the viewing of the total solar eclipse you refer to. It will occur over India, Cambodia and other countries in the region on Oct. 24.
Because visibility of the eclipse -- in which the moon will completely block the sun for a brief period -- is dependent on weather, most tours are emphasizing sites that are historically clear and dry in late October. Among them is the Rajasthan desert in India.
A few companies have selected the ancient temples of Angkor Wat in Cambodia, where views of the eclipse could be particularly spectacular. Travelers should be aware, however, that Cambodia's monsoon season sometimes lasts through the end of October.
* Outer Edge Expeditions, based in Michigan, (800) 322-5235 or (810) 624-5140, will lead a group to the Rajasthan desert in a tour scheduled Oct. 18-27. The Taj Mahal, the Observatory Jantar Mantar in Jaipur and Delhi are among the other stops. The cost, $2,095 based on double occupancy, includes accommodations, local transportation, but not international airfare.
* Overseas Adventure Travel in Cambridge, Mass., (800) 221-0814 or (617) 876-0533, is offering at least two 13-day eclipse-themed tours to India, one departing Oct. 17 and the other Oct. 18. Participants in both groups will converge at an "eclipse camp" northwest of Agra for the eclipse. Other sites on the itinerary include the Taj Mahal, New Delhi, Jaipur and Varanasi. The $3,190 cost includes round-trip airfare from New York, most meals and accommodations.
* Absolute Asia in New York, (800) 736-8187 or (212) 627-1950, is offering a trip to Cambodia and Thailand Oct. 20-31. In addition to viewing the eclipse from Angkor Wat, participants will go to Phnom Penh, Bangkok and southern Thailand. The cost is $3,150 from New York, and includes accommodations, airfare and most meals.