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If you have yet to experience Costa Rica, the Central American country that’s one of the most world's most enviable outdoor adventure playgrounds, here’s a can’t-miss deal to consider: a four-day, three-night package that includes hotel, transport within the country, most meals, and adrenaline-packed activities such as canyoneering, zip lining, rafting and horseback riding – all for just $599 (based on double occupancy).
That stellar price represents a savings of 33 percent offered by the outfitter, Tropical Adventures, along with its re-launch. The nonprofit organization, which was founded by Scott Pralinsky, an American adventure travel enthusiast who’s called Costa Rica his home since 2004, also has received plenty of praise for its authentic, volunteer-based programs, including a nod from National Geographic Adventure magazine as a Top 100 Volunteer Vacation in 2009.
For the current offer, called the Arenal 4-Day Super Adventure Trip, you’ll need to book by September 1 and travel by November 15. (The website looks a little discombobulated, but just click on the link at the top of the home page for more information. To book, you’ll need to call the organization’s 800 number.)
One noteworthy clarification: There are actually only two days, not four, of adventure activities on the itinerary. But they pack quite a punch: Rappelling and hiking through waterfalls in a rainforest canyon, plus rafting down the Class 2-3 rapids of the Río Balsa; ziplining at speeds up to 40 miles per hour and from heights of more than 500 feet; an intense hike to the bottom of an extinct volcano. There's also a twilight hike to the base of the majestic Arenal Volcano, whose glowing orange lava you can see on clear nights.
Moderate-level mountain biking and horseback riding are also daytime activity options. And the comfortable digs at Arenal Manoa Hotel, with a pristine swimming pool and huge hot tub, plus panoramic views of the volcano, is the perfect place to unwind after a full day of action (ideally, with an ice-cold Imperial in hand).
Bottom line: Less than $200 a day including hotel, airport transfers (from San Jose International Airport), most meals, and activities is a steal, especially if you’re a Costa Rica newbie. Pura vida, indeed.