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The Other Americas Offer Affordably Priced Winter Respites from the Cold

October 22, 2003 -- Dreading the cold to come this winter? Head south -- way south -- to the likes of Central and South America -- namely Costa Rica, Belize, Guatemala, even Argentina and Brazil -- where budget-priced air and hotel mixers are starting from a pleasingly low $389.

That package from Jetaway Holidays includes roundtrip airfare from Miami, four nights at the Travelers Inn in San Jose, Costa Rica, roundtrip airport/hotel transfers, continental breakfast daily, all hotel taxes and hotel service charges. Moreover, children under 12 stay free. Prices are per person, based on double occupancy for a standard room and subject to availability when booked. Price does not include US departure and security taxes and fees. You travel between now and November 30, 2003 (last minute-word is that Thanksgiving packages are all taken).

Sample air add-ons include: Orlando $70, Dallas/Ft. Worth $130, New York $140, Boston $150, Chicago $190, Los Angeles $220, Philadelphia or Washington, D.C.$230, Atlanta $240, Detroit $250. For more information and to book, call them at 800/316-9022 between 9-5 EST or visit If you want see more than just the city of San Jose, you should consider any of their other three packages that mix and match days in the city with time spent in the jungle or on the beach.

A longer, 13-day vacation is offered by Overseas Adventure Tours, beginning at $1,490, which includes roundtrip airfare from a slightly wider range of southern cities -- Dallas/Fort Worth, Houston or Miami. Included in this "Real Affordable Costa Rica" plan is your airfare, 12 nights in small hotels and lodges, 33 meals (12 breakfasts, 10 lunches and 11 dinners), all internal transport, and services of an expert OAT Trip Leader. The tour visits San Jose, Sarapiquis, the Chachagua region, La Fortuna, Arenal, takes a boat ride in the Cano Negro Wildlife Refuge, visits Rincon de la Vieja, Rio Tarcoles, takes another boat ride and excursion in Punta Coral, and ends back in San Jose. The trip involves moderate walking (sometimes at a brisk pace) and high elevations (9,000 feet). You should be in good shape and enjoy the outdoors. Travel dates run from February 19 to June 25, 2004, with the lowest prices in May. For more information and to book, phone OAT at 800/955-1925 or visit

Less strenuous but far more expensive is an AHI International package, a week-long "edu-venture" priced from $1,895, including airfare, luxury hotel, full American breakfasts daily, and some extras. You stay three nights at the Tilajari Hotel in the gorgeous Arenal National Park, site of Central America's most active volcano. On the hotel's 42 acres are gardens and a butterfly farm, as well as indoor/outdoor tennis courts, racquetball courts, swimming pools and great views of the San Carlos River. Activities include horseback rides in the tropical rain forest (or you can visit by flatbed truck), rafting trips and hot-air ballooning. Later, you spend thee nights in the capital, San Jose, at a fine resort, the Melia Cariari. Hotel amenities include 24-hour room service, three swimming pools (one with a swim-up bar), fitness center, 18-hole golf course and tennis courts. The $1,895 price includes airfare from Dallas/Ft. Worth to San Jose on American Airlines or a similar carrier, roundtrip transfers between airport and hotel, the six nights of lodging, the breakfasts mentioned, a welcome reception and trip briefing, farewell dinners and flight insurance, as well as baggage handling and tips. The tour dates are November 5, 12 and 19, all 2003. For more information contact AHI at 800/323-7373 or visit

(For our previously published deals to Costa Rica, click here.)

Belize & Guatemala

You can see Guatemala's Mayan ruins at Tikal and enjoy the luxury of a Belizean resort this winter and next spring, for prices that start at $1560, but you have to buy your own airplane ticket to get there. The Inn at Robert's Grove, on the Placencia Peninsula on Belize's southern coast, and the Camino Real Tikal in Flores (Guatemala) are offering an eight-day (seven-night) package with all meals, luxury accommodations, daily tours, a day of snorkeling, and a tour of the Tikal ruins, land and air transfers, all taxes, service and site fees. The price is per person, double occupancy, and is offered from December 1 through 21, 2003 and from January 5 to May 31,2004. One of your tours is along Belize's tropical Monkey River, your snorkeling day is along Belize's Barrier Reef (second largest in the world). The Inn at Robert's Grove ( has 32 rooms and is owned and operated by two transplanted New Yorkers, featuring two restaurants, the top PADI dive operation in southern Belize (they say), a fly fishing center, two swimming pools, an internet center, gym, marina and more. The Camino Real Tikal has 72 bungalows in the jungle, all with views of the lake at Peten Itza. Other amenities include three restaurants, a beach, swimming pool, water sports and canopy walk and sky walk tours. For reservations and more information, contact Robert's Grove at

(Go here to our independently researched reports on other deals to Belize.)

Rio & Buenos Aires

Our old friends at Go-Today have a splendid "Samba & Tango Special", costing from just $799 if you purchase by December 2, 2003. Departure dates are from now through December 9, 2003. For that relatively small amount, you get roundtrip air on an available carrier from Miami, three nights in Rio, three nights in Buenos Aires, breakfast daily, the flight between the two cities, roundtrip transfers in both cities, hotel taxes and service charges, and more. Add-on airfares (a sample) include $50 from New York, $150 from Los Angeles, and $250 from Las Vegas, Phoenix, San Diego and San Francisco. Airport fees and taxes not included. Contact Go-Today at for this and all deals to South America or phone them at 425/487-9632. As we always remind you, there is an extra $20 charge for reservations made over the phone.

(We reported on other pleasantly priced packages to Rio de Janeiro and Buenos Aires this past summer - many are still valid. Just click on their bold red names to review them.)