The Real Deal: Sixteen nights' accommodations, local transportation, the services of an English-speaking tour guide and local guides, and sightseeing tours, for $1,149 per person—including all taxes and fees.
When: Sunday departures June 28–Dec. 27, 2009; July 12 departure is sold out.
The fine print: Includes all taxes and fees and a $250 local payment per person to be made in cash. Based on single or double occupancy; G.A.P will match solo travelers with a roommate. Use promo code JGS. Allow $340 for meals. Group size averages 10 people. Read these guidelines before you book any Real Deal.
Book by: No deadline; based on availability.
Contact: G.A.P Adventures, 888/800-4100, gapadventures.com.
Why it's a deal: The trip price breaks down to about $72 per person per night. That includes your accommodations, all local transportation, and the services of English-speaking guides—plus the convenience and reassurance of having all the details of a lengthy, four-country itinerary coordinated for you.
Itinerary highlights: The journey begins in Antigua, Guatemala, and ends in San José, Costa Rica. You'll spend more that two weeks exploring and hiking in Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, and Costa Rica. (G.A.P rates the trip as level three: "moderate hiking with an average/moderate level of fitness required.")
Along the way, some highlights include visiting Mayan ruins in Copán; swimming in the blue waters of the Bay Islands, off the coast of Honduras; seeing the Mosquito Coast of Honduras by ferry; shopping in the markets of Granada, Nicaragua; touring Ometepe, an island on Lake Nicaragua with its two volcanoes; and exploring the Monte Verde rain forest and Arenal Volcano in Costa Rica. View the entire detailed itinerary here. Note that lodging will depend on departure dates—you can expect stays in simple hotels, with the possibility of sharing a room with more than one person (hostel-style).
More: Add nights in Antigua for $45 per person; add nights in San José for $20 per person. Add transfers from the airport to the meeting hotel for $45 per person.
Before you go: U.S. citizens will need a valid passport for travel; a visa is not required for any of the countries visited, but there is a $5 tourist card that must be purchased upon entry in Nicaragua.