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Lonely Planet Country Guide: Bolivia - Kate Armstrong

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Genre: Travel / Author: Kate Armstrong / Edition: 6th Revised edition / Paperback / 432 Pages / Book is published 2007-04-01 by Lonely Planet Publications

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      05.06.2009 21:52
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      Advantages

      Disadvantages

      I must-read if you go to Bolivia!

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      I'm using the 6th edition, published in April 2007.
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      This is one of my favourite Lonely Planet Guides, full of useful information, witty texts and helpful background knowledge.
      One of the suggested itineraries sounds so good that I try to included it as much as possible in my trip.
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      Chapters

      The Lonely Planet Bolivia is divided into the following chapters. The division is made by geographical area and is easy to understand/use. On page 11 you have a map on how the book is divided.

      - Quick reference with Bolivia fact file, exchange rates and important phone numbers

      - Coloured map, highlights are marked.

      - 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: ' Natural Attractions', 'Historic Architecture', 'Tradition & Culture' and 'Outdoor Adventure'.

      - Suggested itineraries - most of the suggestions are really good but I find that you need at least one week more than what they tell you. 10 days for the Amazonian Adventure are only possible if you rush and miss most of the good attractions.
      I love the 'Planes, Trains & Camiones' itinerary! Hopefully my trip will be as great as this itinerary suggests.

      - History - well written history section from the early ages to recent political events. The sections about history, lifestyle and people are well written and make a nice read - the language was by far not as pretentious as in many other LP guides I have.

      - Environment & People - good insight in the culture, language and local customs - always contains a translated food menu which is incredibly helpful if the waiter doesn't speak English

      - The chapters are easily to understand and well structured. They cover the country by region with bigger cities having their own chapter.
      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.

      - La Paz
      - Lake Titicaca
      - The Cordilleras & Yungas
      - Southern Altiplano
      - Central Highlands
      - South central Bolivia & the Chaco
      - Santa Cruz & Eastern Lowlands
      - Amazon Basin

      - Directory with useful A-Z guide from accommodation over scams to women travellers.

      - 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.

      - some blank pages for your notes. I honestly never used them on a single occasion.
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      Photos

      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. I don't know why but I usually prefer the Rough Guide photos to the ones in the Lonely Planet but the photos in the Bolivia guide are just amazing. My favourites are the light blue volcanic lake at Volcan Licancabur, the white of the Copacabana cathederal and bright colours of the traditional clothing. (All on pages 4 to 8)

      There are many black and white snapshots throughout the book - but of course they are not as tempting as the coloured ones.
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      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.
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      Down-side

      - 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 Bolivia without sleep.

      - Not the best when you really travel on a tight budget; the Author's pick seems to be always for some middle class GH and I ended up more than once in a restaurant described as dirt cheap and paying more than I payed for the night in the hotel. The recommended hotel in La Paz is 33$ to 57$ a night.
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      Rating

      I found the Bolivia Guidebook one of the most useful travel guides I've aver read. I did like the style and the suggestions and itineraries are so diverse you'll find your perfect adventure regardless of what your preferences are.

      The price is with 16.99 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 9 out of 10
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