Amazing amount of information I've got by reading the forum posts. Thanks to all.
We're a family of 4 in NJ, USA traveling to Peru for the fist time (kids are 13 and 10) on 3/23 for 12 days and 12 nights. A sudden decision left little time for planning. I planned our itinerary for the typical highlights MP, Paracas/Ballesta, Nazca, Arequipa/Colca.
I contacted some of the recommended travel agents in Peru and the US to organize our tour, and was surprised to get quotes around US $19,000 - $26,000, not including flights and many meals. We've never used a tour operator before, so maybe my ignorance is showing.
By my calculation, hotels come to around $4000 (we're happy with 3 star). We requested private van transport and bilingual guide for any attractions. It seems to me that if I plan this on my own - hiring cars and guides at each location and booking the tours, it should cost at most around $10,000. Am I missing something? Are package tours usually marked up so much? Any thoughts/recommendations are much appreciated.
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Peru 2 weeks w/ family, custom package vs. independent travel