This week's deal from Friendly Planet (tel. 800/555-5765; www.friendlyplanet.com) gives you eight nights -- two apiece in San Jose, Arenal, Monteverde, and Tortuguero -- in Costa Rica.
Start and end the trip with a night at Crowne Plaza Corobici in San Jose, but in between, you'll see the best of Costa Rica's natural beauty. Spend the first couple of days at Pachira eco-lodge in Tortuguero, the land of the turtles. Take a guided walk through the village and along the beach. Board a small boat for tours through the canals of Tortuguero National Park. Travel next to Arenal, where you'll see the volcano and have time to explore on your own. Mountain Paradise Hotel is your base for two nights. Soothe sore muscles with spa treatments or dips in the pool. Then it's off to Monteverde, where you'll spend two nights at Fonda Vela (for 2012 departures) or at El Establo Hotel (for 2013 departures). Head back to San Jose for the last overnight at the Crowne Plaza Corobici.
In Costa Rica, the climate can vary wildly, so pack accordingly. May through November is the green season, so be prepared for rain at any given moment. The months of December through February are drier and slightly cooler in comparison. In the more mountainous areas such as Monteverde, you can expect slightly cooler temperatures regardless of the time of year.
Why is this a deal? Round-trip flights for the October departure dates would cost about $380 per person. Hotel stays come to $994.97 per person for the various hotels included. When you add the airfare, the price comes to $1,374.97 if you book independently, which makes just those components cheaper by about $4. However, this price does not include the rest of what's bundled into the package, including the air-conditioned transfers throughout the country, the services of a bilingual naturalist guide, or the entrance fee to Tortuguero National Park ($10 per person). Friendly Planet estimates that the transfers alone would cost more than $200 per person if booked independently.
Trip Type: Air-inclusive; partially escorted
What the Quoted Price Gets You: Round-trip airfare from Miami to San Jose, Costa Rica; eight nights' hotel; all transfers in a chauffer-driven minivan; comprehensive sightseeing with a naturalist bilingual guide in Tortuguero; entrance fee to Tortuguero National Park; breakfast daily plus two dinners and three lunches in Tortuguero; airline fuel surcharges; hotel taxes and fees; and government taxes and fees
What Else You Will Have to Pay: Remaining meals that aren't included
When: Oct. 17, 24; Nov. 14, 2012
Book By: Sept. 11 to take advantage of the $300 booking discount (already reflected in the quoted price)
Single Supplement: From $439 per person
Other Departures: New York(from $1,534), Chicago (from $1,579), Los Angeles (from $1,679)
Other Details: Departures are available Nov. 28 and Dec. 5 (from $1,559 per person). In 2013, other departures are available January 9, 23, Feb. 6, 20, March 6, 13, and April 3, 17 (from $1,399 per person).
All prices are per person and, if lodging is a component of the package, based upon two people traveling together (unless otherwise noted). The prices listed are general starting rates; see "What Else You'll Have to Pay" for details about associated taxes and fees. Base-prices, taxes, and fees can vary based on point of departure and time of travel. Blackout dates may apply. Trip add-ons like sightseeing tours and meal plans may also increase the price. Check with the tour operator for additional gateways. The single supplement is the extra cost that a solo traveler would pay to book the deal.