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An ecological wonder, Costa Rica has quickly become a hot spot among global travelers seeking inland wonders and coastal relaxation. With excellent package deals that include air and land, the Central American country known for its jungles and surfing challenges is one of the most talked about travel destinations of the early part of 2005. Hollywood types, adventure seekers and eco-tourists can't seem to get enough of this affordable enclave.

Latin Escapes (tel. 800/878-9986; www.victorytravel.com) has several package deals that include the use of 4X4 for your own personal driving deal around the entire country. For $679 with a departure out of Miami or $809 out of New York, this seven-night trip valid for travel before December 10, 2005 includes airfare, lodging at your choice of hotels (you get vouchers to stop where you want to on your in-country drive) and the use of a jeep. Daily breakfast is also included. Your trip starts in the big city of San Jose and the rest is up to you. Costa Ricans are friendly and they're eager to help you find your way to the best locations inside their beautiful country. The helpful site has other deals as well.

If you feel like doing the trip yourself, Intratours (tel. 800/334-8069; www.intratours.com) has great air deals to San Jose. Round trip fares from Dallas go for $368, from Atlanta $323, and only $405 from cold Detroit. Air taxes and security fees are not included.

Other package deals are available at Gate 1 Travel (tel. 800/682-3333; www.gate1travel.com). With as many as ten vacation packages offered by the respected tour operator, tourists can choose from rustic to luxury travel deals. A five-day San Jose trip can be had for a cash discount of $449 till March 31, 2005 or $479 from April 1 till June 12, 2005. The capital city is full of cosmopolitan squares and classy bars and restaurants full of smiles and accommodating ideas for sightseeing. Travelers have a choice of three and four star hotels all equipped with swimming pools and top-notch amenities. Other areas of the country such as rain forests and nature preserves are available. A trip to the Jaco region gives tourists a bird-watching extravaganza. The land only four-day trip starts at $149.

Liberty Travel (tel. 800/271-1584; www.libertytravel.com) has two deluxe deals to Costa Rica. The first air-land inclusive deal is a seven-night package to the beachfront Grand Papagayo resort. Even meals and hotel taxes are included in this package deal that costs $1,525 from New York's Kennedy Airport and $1,599 from Pittsburgh. Other departure points are also available. You need to book this trip by March 20, 2005. A seven-night air, land, and meal trip to the four-star village resort the Paradisus Playa Conchal starts slightly higher at $2,115 out of New York or $2,149 out of Chicago. This trip needs to be booked by March 6, 2005. Airfares for these trips are based on a Monday to Thursday departure and can be slightly higher during the high season, from February 1 to February 28, 2005.

Talk with other travelers about their trips on our Costa Rica Message Boards. It's free and a great way to get first-hand knowledge from unbiased sources.