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Bubbling mud pools, catwalks overlooking wild jungles, waterfalls, bird watching, nature preserves, surf camps and oceanfront hotels, Costa Rica is a treasure for adventure travelers, lovers of the great outdoors, or plain old beach bums. This fall and winter, travel providers have some discounted land and air/land packages that will make you forget high gas prices and baseball pennant races. Well maybe not baseball pennant races, but you can always watch those on satellite television from a Costa Rican sports bar.

Intratours (tel. 800/334-8069; www.intratours.com) has discounted flights to Costa Rica from several major U.S. gateways. Flights to San Jose are available for the following cities at varying base-prices dependent upon the season. Fall travel is good through December 9, 2005, with winter travel good from January 14 to March 31, 2006. Fares are for round-trip travel with a Saturday night stay required with mid-week departures.

Gateway

Fall Fare

Winter Fare

Atlanta

$432

$495

Chicago

$412

$477

Los Angeles

$474

$460

Miami

$249

$249

New York City

$299

$450

Philadelphia

$330

$465

Washington, D.C.

$375

$450

The New York fall deal for $299 round-trip is a special fare. You might not see fares that low to Costa Rica from the Big Apple for a while. You must travel by November 16, 2005 for the New York and Philadelphia fall fares.

Once in Costa Rica, American Airlines Vacations (tel. 800/321-2121; www.aavacations.com) has a special four-day/three-night offer at the Occidental Resort Papagayo, just 35 minutes from the airport at the popular Playa Buena Beach on Costa Rica's Northern Pacific coast. Priced from $424 per person, this land-only package includes your room and all meals and beverages. The beachfront hotel has a family pool for children and a more private pool reserved for adults, spa facilities and several on-site restaurants. To lock in these great savings, you have to book by October 31 for travel between January 2 and July 28, 2006.

For a nature tour of Costa Rica, Caravan Tours (tel. 800/227-2826; www.caravantours.com) has a 10-day, land-only excursion starting from $995. Caravan trips are fairly all-inclusive. On this trip, your money gets you all meals, all activities, a professional tour guide, all hotels, transportation and excursions, and free bottled water while on the tour bus. Stops include many natural wonders including Tortuguero Park, an aerial tram ride over a rain forest, wildlife reserves, volcanoes, waterfalls and nature preserves with rare and nearly-extinct birds. A $300 deposit is required within seven days of making your reservation, and full payment is due 60 days prior to departure. Starting in December 2005, this trip departs more than eight times per month through March 2006. Beach temperatures near the Tortuguero Park area will reach the high 80s in January and February.

Costa Rican Trails (tel. 888/803-3344; www.costaricantrails.com) has an eight-day/seven-night self-drive deal called "Tres Leche" focusing on natural areas starting at $750 per person. If you travel by October 31, 2005, the price drops ten percent to $690. This price gets you a 4x4 for one week, all hotels, all tours, some meals, airport transfers and all service taxes. Two days of your trip will be spent at the Rincon de la Vieja National Park, where you'll stay at a mountain lodge whose electricity is generated by geothermal energy coming from a nearby stream. On the grounds of the national park you'll find those bubbling mud paths and an incredible insect collection composed of national species. In business for over 15 years, Costa Rican Trails specializes in honeymoons, adventure travel, beach vacations and bird watching safaris. The tour operator even offers an "intermediate" level one-day mountain bike trip starting at $117 and white water rafting trips as well. Costa Rican Trails also allows you to "Tailor Make" your Costa Rican travel experience.

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