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I'm using the 6th edition, published in February 2007.
Peru is one of the must-sees on my life-to-do-list. I actually bought this book long before I started planning my trip, long before I actually decided to go. I've read it several times by know and cannot get enough of the travel stories, the history, the description of the people and the photos.
As far as I can see all the main attractions and some hidden gems are all very well covered. 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 Peru fact file, exchange rates and important phone numbers. In this book they use a scale to describe the price of the accommodation: up to 25$ is 'budget', between 26$ and 75$ is 'mid range' and over is 'top end'. You see, Peru is quite an expensive country compared to its neighbours.
- Coloured map over two pages, highlights are marked and described.
- Destination Peru - 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: 'Fiesta time', 'Ancient treasures', 'People of Peru', 'Natural Wonders' and 'Adrenalin Heights'.
- Suggested itineraries - contains 7 suggested itineraries from easily accessible main attractions to Amazon trekking and 4 weeks through the jungle. 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 Jungle Boodie sounds amazing, unfortunately it would include quite a lot of flying which is probably too much for my budget.
- 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.
Peru is crowded with ancient temples and archeology treasures as expected from a country with such a rich history.
- 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.
Before you travel to Peru read 'Death in the Andes by Mario Llosa' to get a better understanding of Peru's people.
- Environment - good insight in the diverse countryside that awaits you in Peru, from the green Amazon valley to the highest peaks of the Andes.
- Peru Outdoors with all relevant information about hiking, climbing, National Parks and beaches.
- The Inca World, a little treasure of the book, a detailed description of the Incas, their culture and lifestyle.
- 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 Peru is divided into the following chapters organised 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.
- South Coast
- Arequipa & Canyon Country
- Lake Titicaca
- Cuzco & the Sacred Valley (with Machu Picchu)
- Central Highlands
- North Coast
- Huaraz & the Cordilleras
- Northern Highlands
- Amazon Basin
- Directory with useful A-Z guide from accommodation over scams to women travellers. Have a look at page 504 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 South America 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 Peru.
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 and two times 8 pages inside the book. My favourites are of course the stunning view of Machu Picchu, the colourful sunset over the Tambopata Reserva and the old town of Cuzco.
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.
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 this edition more colour photos are printed than in earlier editions and the writers really seem to know what they are actually writing about.
There are some Lonely Planet guides that were so inaccurate that I doubt the authors could find the country in question on the map.
In combination with the Lonely Planet website and the forum it's a great help to plan your trip to Peru!
The price is with 14.99 Pound normal for a travel book and it should be easy to get it cheaper from Amazon or second hand.
An overall rating of 8 out of 10