Lonely Planet's Guatemala: A Book Review

 


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When my family and I visited Guatemala a couple of years ago, we took along two guidebooks to that beautiful and fascinating Central American land. One of them was Lonely Planet's Guatemala, and it turned out to be the one we referred to most often.

When the first Lonely Planet travel guides were written, they were aimed more directly at backpackers and budget travelers than at the more well-heeled tourists catered to by other travel publishers. That spirit of independent adventure travel still pervades the Lonely Planet series, but most of their books, including this one, are sophisticated and comprehensive enough to be useful to anyone of any age or budget who wants to learn about the country in question.

Most readers of Guatemala will find themselves repeatedly thumbing to the chapters on specific regions and towns, searching out restaurant and lodging recommendations or looking up admission fees and hours for museums and other attractions. Back in the hotel room, though, or back home after the trip, they will likely find themselves browsing the sections on the history and culture of the country and the people they encountered there. These background sections are well-written without descending into textbook-ese, and will add depth to the experience of visiting Guatemala.

Lonely Planet's Guatemala is chock full of the requisite maps, the town and city street plans being particularly useful. A nice selection of color photographs helps bring the vibrancy of Guatemala and its culture to vivid life.

True to its backpacker roots, the book includes many recommended hikes, both in and around cities as well as up mountains and volcanoes, through jungles and around lakes. Outdoor activities in general get a fair amount of attention in this guide.

There are reference sections on such essentials as exchanging money, finding a doctor, using the telephone system, and so forth. And, there is due attention to what the book likes to call "annoyances" — such as being robbed or coming down with a tropical fever. The authors are careful to note areas deemed unsafe due to crime or other dangers; it is up to the reader whether or not to avoid such areas, knowing the risks.

Guatemala was written by John Noble and Susan Forsyth, both of them seasoned travelers in Central America.

Guatemala is published by Lonely Planet Publications of Australia, the U. S. , the U. K. and France; ISBN # 1-74059-293-X.

H. Tim Sevets is books editor for the Solid Gold Info Writers Consortium , where he specializes in objective reviews of the top money-making reports available over the Web. Recently, he reviewed an e-book that claims to show how to make money by tearing up old books and magazines and selling them on eBay. Read his opinion at http://www.solid-gold.info/tear-up-old-books-sell-ebay.html .

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