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Good deals await intrepid travelers

Special to The Times

SOME Americans are apparently undecided about long-distance travel in the coming weeks, either within the United States or abroad.

The war in Iraq and concerns about security mean travel bookings are substantially off from their normal levels. But the general reduction in tourism creates remarkable opportunities for discount travel.

If you have decided to continue traveling -- and as a reader of this section, you undoubtedly have -- you will find bargains in airfares, air-and-land packages, resort hotel rates and cruises. Here are examples of prices currently available in the Caribbean and South America:

First, from May 1 to Aug. 8, you’ll pay $549 for round-trip air from Los Angeles and six nights at the Imperial Laguna Hotel in Cancun, Mexico. Extra nights are $75; the single supplement is $216. Call (888) 653-8242, www.e-vacations.com.

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Or spend $637 for seven nights in elegant Barbados. This upscale, English-speaking isle (a former British colony), normally among the Caribbean’s costliest, is made affordable by the joint efforts of a government-sponsored promotion (“Best of Barbados”) and tour operator Atlas Vacations, (800) 634-1057, www.atlasvacations.net.

From May through July, fly round trip from Los Angeles and stay seven nights in a kitchen-equipped apartment on the island’s south shore, a few miles from the airport and the capital of Bridgetown. Choose your lodgings from the Carib Blue, Pirates Inn or Nautilus Beach. Extra nights $40; single supplement $230.

Another Atlas trip costs $625 for airfare and seven nights at a beachfront property in Ocho Rios, Jamaica. That amount, also from May through July, buys a round-trip flight from Los Angeles and seven nights in a one-bedroom apartment on Turtle Beach at the Fisherman’s Point condominiums.

The rates to South America in these nervous times are almost as low as to the Caribbean. Argentina’s ongoing economic crisis (coupled with the current world crisis) continues to mean that visiting there is inexpensive for U.S. tourists.

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For $865, South America specialist Marnella Tours, (866) 993-0033, www.marnellatours.com, offers a package to Buenos Aires that includes five nights at the three-star Gran Hotel Argentino, breakfast, airport transfers, a half-day city tour, a dinner and tango show and American Airlines flights from Los Angeles. The offer is valid May 1 to July 31. Extra nights $12; single supplement $75.

Finally, to Rio de Janeiro starting in May, $677 per person is the price for airfare along with seven days and five nights near Copacabana Beach. The package, from Gate 1 Travel, (800) 682-3333, www.gate1travel.com, includes airfare from Los Angeles and five nights at Augusto’s Copacabana Hotel, breakfast included. That price is good for Monday departures from May 5 to June 16.


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