The Real Deal: Round-trip airfare, five nights' accommodations, local flights, and transfers, from $850 per person — plus taxes of $172.
When: Through June 26, 2008.
Gateways: Miami, New York; add $110 for Boston, Chicago; $120 for Atlanta, Cleveland, Detroit, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh; $130 for Louisville; $160 for New Orleans; $170 for Houston; $190 for St. Louis; $260 for L.A.; $280 for San Diego; $290 for San Francisco; $320 for Seattle; additional gateways available.
The fine print: Breakfast daily, a one-way flight within Brazil, and airport-hotel transfers are included. Taxes, fees, and service charges are an additional $172 per person. Based on double occupancy; single supplement is $215. Brazilian visas are required and must be obtained prior to arrival through a Brazilian embassy or consulate. U.S. passport holders must pay a processing fee of $130 (visas cannot be obtained through TAM). Read these guidelines before you book any Real Deal.
Book by: No deadline; based on availability.
Contact: TAM Vacations, 866/627-2945, tamvacations.com.
Why it's a deal: For comparison, note that according to a recent search on Kayak, the lowest multicity fare (Miami-Iguazú-Rio-Miami) in early March starts at $685 (TAM); the same flight from New York City starts at $709 (TAM). For an additional $141-$165 per person, or about $28-$33 per day, TAM Vacation covers the airfare as well as five nights' accommodations, with breakfast daily and airport transfers.
Trip details: The Rio de Janeiro/Iguazú Falls package includes international airfare, arriving at Iguazú and departing from Rio de Janeiro, and a one-way flight between Iguazú and Rio, all via TAM Airlines.
Upon your arrival at the Iguazú airport, you'll be greeted by the TAM staff and transferred to your hotel, Recanto Park, in downtown. The 158 rooms are air-conditioned and come with standard amenities, such as a private bath, an in-room safe, and a phone. You'll also find a bar, restaurant, swimming pool, sauna and fitness center on the premises.
A wildlife-filled national park surrounds Iguazú Falls, a two-mile-long horseshoe-shaped series of 275 rushing cascades of water (the result of a volcanic eruption).
You can choose to explore the area independently or join an optional tour of the falls; starting rates are $50 per person to tour the Brazilian side of the falls and $94 to view both the Brazilian and Argentinean sides. (Prices are based on two or more participants; the cost doubles for singles.)
A 90-minute TAM flight will whisk you to Rio de Janeiro, where you'll check into the Lancaster Othon Hotel on Copacabana beach, your home for the next three nights. The 68 air-conditioned rooms are decorated in pastel hues and provide hotel basics: satellite television, a desk, a direct-dial phone, and a clock radio.
The Corcovado optional tour ($38 per person, based on two or more participants) includes a cogwheel-train ride to the top of Corcovado Mountain to visit the famous statue of Christ the Redeemer and gawk at the sprawling cityscape of Rio below.
Another option is the Sugarloaf tour ($90 per person for two or more), which takes you through the city, past the Sambadrome and the Metropolital Cathedral to the neighborhood of Urca, home to Sugarloaf Mountain. The tour includes a two-part cable-car ride, first stopping at the top of Urca Hill (Morro do Urca) before ascending to the peak of Sugarloaf. Bring your camera to capture the panoramic views.
Other options include a combination of the Corcovado and Sugarloaf tours with lunch ($82) and a tropical island tour to the city of Itacuruçá in the district of Mangaratiba, including a saveiro boat cruise along Sepetiba Bay ($189 per person for two participants, $140 per person for three, and $116 per person for four).
If you'd like to extend your stay, expect to pay $43 per person per night for a double room ($86 for a single) at Recanto Park and $51 per person per night for a double ($102 for a single) at Lancaster. Other hotel options are available at an additional cost.
When booking your trip, consider that the valid travel dates for this package fall during the hottest three months of the year — January through March, when temperatures reach above 100 degrees Fahrenheit — but also during the early months of winter (May and June), when the temperatures are more pleasant and average in the 70s. Before you go, check the weather forecast.