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I'm using the 5th edition, published in August 2005.
I was a bit sceptical when I bought this book, 500 pages for a country as big and diverse as Argentina doesn't sound sufficient. Indeed, it lacked some info I'd like to have but in the end it's just a guide book and cannot do all the work for me. It definitely gives me all the important info about the county itself and most of the easily accessible attractions. For more details on 'off the beaten track' attractions I happily rely on the Lonely Planet online forum - a good source for travel tips.
- Quick reference with Argentina fact file, exchange rates and important phone numbers. In this book they use a scale to describe the price of the accommodation: up to 15$ is 'budget', between 16$ and 50$ is 'mid range' and over is 'top end'.
- Coloured map over two pages, highlights are marked and described.
- Colour section - this is my favourite as it contains photos to places that are described later in the book. It's great to see photos of places you want to visit and can offer you alternatives you never thought about before. Photos are divided into the following sections: 'People of Argentina', 'Cities & towns', 'Natural Wonders', 'Action & Adventure' and 'Epicurean Delights'.
How I love the very first photo, the two Tango dancers are THE classical image of Argentina.
- Suggested itineraries - most of the suggestions are really good, normally I find that you need at least one week more than what they tell you but here the suggested time seems to match what most other travellers say as well.
The 'Grand Loop' sounds great -covering all major highlights and plenty of hidden gems; but unfortunately 12 weeks is probably more than I'll have.
The 'Wine Tour' sounds quite tempting as well - Mendoza, Cafayate...I need a glass of wine now!
- History - well written history section from the early ages to recent political events. A timeline for a quick overview is given on the bottom on every page.
One section is dedicated to the famous Eva Peron and of course the Falkland war finds its place as well.
- The sections is dedicated to the 'national psyche', important and helpful information if you really want to understand the local lifestyle and the social Dos & Don'ts. An important tip, avoid under any circumstances a discussion about the Falkland war - especially if you are British!
- Environment - good insight in the diverse countryside that awaits you in Argentina.
- Food - oh, that's important. If you don't speak Spanish make sure that you always have the menu ready with you. It helped me in so many situations when I was sitting totally lost in a local restaurant and couldn't understand a single word.
The Lonely Planet Argentina is divided into the following chapters divided by geographical area. The chapters are easy to understand and well structured.
They all share the same with practical and historical information at the beginning as well as the highlights of the region. This is followed by Accommodation, City and surroundings and how to get there and how to get away.
- Buenos Aires
- The Pampas & the Atlantic Coast
- Northeast Argentina
- The Andean Northwest
- Cordoba & the Central Sierras
- Mendoza & the Central Andes
- The Lake District
- Tierra del Fuego
- Directory with useful A-Z guide from accommodation over scams to women travellers. Have a look at page 466 for the Festivals & Events.
- a short language section which can be essential when you are stuck in the middle of nowhere and nobody understands English. Spanish pronunciation is explained and useful words and phrases are given. You can also find a small menu reader.
Attention: the Spanish spoken in Argentina IS NOT the same Spanish as spoken in Spain. You'll be of course understood but don't be surprised if you hear lots of Italian words used in Argentina.
I really enjoy looking at photos of places I want to travel to, they just put some meat on the bone. The Lonely Planet has lots of high quality colour photos in the first section of the book. My favourites are of course the traditional Tango dancers, the stunning view of the Perito Moreno Glacier and wine bottles in Mendoza. I think you know by now that I quite like wine!
There are many black and white snapshots throughout the book - but of course they are not as tempting as the coloured ones.
The Shoestring books
Lonely Planet publishes a variety of books aimed to help budget travellers - they include Europe, South America and Southeast Asia. I don't like them and would rather buy the books separately. I borrowed the South America one (the Rough Guide but there's really not that much difference between them) from the Library and gave it right back. They are just not detailed enough and unpractical to use due to their enormous size.
To be fair, it gave me an overview - but it was definitely not detailed enough to justify the price.
- The language. I have the impression that the language in the LP guides is somewhat pretentious and not always suitable if English is not your first language. It's a travel book - I don't care if the writer studies English literature or not, I just want helpful chapters that are easy to understand even after a 16 hours nightmare bus ride in Argentina without sleep.
Please, I'm sure there are some 'down to earth' words that could replace 'Epicurean' :-)
It certainly is a great guide book and covers all of the usual attractions. There are however some places I'm interested in that were not mentioned. But for 500 pages they are doing a really good job.
In combination with the Lonely Planet website and the forum it's a great help to plan your trip to Argentina!
The price is with 15.99 Pound normal for a travel book and it should be easy to get it cheaper from Amazon or second hand. I love second hand travel books, all the scribbled notes and markings can be so helpful and interesting.
An overall rating of 8 out of 10