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on November 23, 2001
I have travelled to Guatemala, Belize and Honduras several times over the last 4 years. I met Conner at a friend's office in Guatemala City while she was researching and writing this book. My husband and I had a fantastic time visiting with Conner and sharing travel stories. I see from some of the other comments that readers felt that the book was rushed and not well researched. I know for a fact that Conner had lost valuable notes on the highlands while in another part of the country and was going back thru the highlands to rebuild her notes. I'm not surprised that this section is not complete. Additionally, I met Conner the day after the WTA Riots in Seattle, Washington. That was in December 1999. Things can change quickly in some areas of Guatemala. Other others don't ever change. Depending on the government. She did tell us of her harrowing hike to El Mirador. In general, when I reviewed the book, I found information to be OK.
However, I have found over the years we've travelled that the Rough Guide is more accurate. We have also met the writer for the Rough Guide, Peter Eltringham while travelling in Belize. Peter has a wealth of information and is brutally honest about what to expect. Especially if you want bus schedules, travel times for busses, dangerous areas. The Rough Guide makes sure that travel advisories are noted. For instance, the danger around the Lake Atitlan area for tourists. I've also found that the Rough Guide is considerable more accurate with regard to price ranges for accomodations. The maps that are included are also very good.
For those of you who have never travelled to Guatemala. It is a beautiful country. The people are poor but friendly. Just like travelling anywhere -- don't leave your better judgment at home. If it looks like a rough area, it probably is. We never travel at night. We always check with out local host/hostess at whatever accomodations that we are staying at for information about the area -- crime, areas to stay away from etc.
That said -- I've camped in the jungles at Mayan ruins. I've hiked into Salpeten. I've taken a pickup truck from Copan to the border of Guatemala, then the chicken bus to Chiquimula and then a bus to Guatemla City and to Antigua in one day. I've travelled overland from Belize City to Flores more times than I can remember. I'm looking forward to spending more time at Lake Atitlan, probably in Santa Cruz or San Marcos. Also, looking forward to Rio Dulce and Coban.
If you've never travelled independently before, I'd say get both books. The Lonely Planet and the Rough Guide. Both writers are experienced travellers. If you get hooked on travelling independently (that is no formal guide service) -- you'll start to develop your own resources.
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on March 9, 2001
Let me start by saying that it is very difficult to keep up with the changing situations in Central America. However, Lonely Planet has chosen to flood the market with their books, which look to be hastily written and contain some glaring errors, such as identifying Agua Volcano as Fuego. Another suggests that there is a bus from Panajachel to San Antonio Polopo. This is not the case, you either have to go by private taxi or a "colectivo" (basically a pickup truck). Some of the ruins in Antigua have also been mididentified. I would suggest that they go back and do some personal research, Guatemala is a fantastic place to visit, I know, I've spent at least a month in the "Land of Eternal Spring" every year for the last 6. It's the best kept secret in Latin America.
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on November 16, 2001
I used this guide for a three month trip to Guatemala June-September 2001, during which time I spent six weeks in Antigua improving my Spanish at the Sevilla school and another six weeks travelling through the Western Highlands, El Petén and a quick trip into Honduras to the island of Utila.
Generally Antigua was covered adequately, though many things are already out of date as there have been many changes. Judging by the listings this guide was researched a long time ago, as according to my Spanish teacher many of the restaurants and bars recommended had been closed for several years. Also in this section the book mistakenly labels "Volcano Agua" as "Volcano Fuego". As this peak (Agua) is directly to the south of the town, and every language student uses it as a landmark, this is a pretty fundamental error. Not the most promising start, for a budding volcano-climber like myself - I ended up taking a volcano tour (around $6) rather than risk it.
Things didn't improve much in Lago de Atitlan, where I also studied for week. There are now five Spanish schools in San Pedro, though the book only mentions one. Also the book seems to have a rather naive, hippy-dippy sensibility towards the nature of the village, talking about "being greeted by the sweet waft of marijuana" and so on. Yes, San Pedro has a dope-smoking scene, but several travellers were being busted (some set up) for a joint or two while I was there, and there was also a (un) healthy cocaine (including crack) "scene". The LP seemed be blissfully ignorant of all this, locked in some sixties nostalgia timewarp. There are also serious social problems, gangs and abject poverty in San Pedro. Travellers are being mugged on a very regular basis on the volcano. A warning wouldn't have gone amiss.
In Peten, the LP covers Flores and Tikal reasonably, with accurate maps. There's no real coverage of the more remote sites however, the author dismisses the hike to Mirador as a five day hell-hike, while Yaxhá, Piedras Negras, Cancuén and many other sites are not even mentioned or barely touched.
In the east of the country, the Jungle route to Honduras that the author describes has no longer been necessary since 1998, when a new bridge was built over the river Montagua that divides the countries (which the guidebook spells "Monagua" on its cover...).
So overall, I have to say I was pretty disappointed with the guide, which for such a recent edition should have been better researched. I did find myself casting an eye over Rough Guide and Footprint readers' guidebooks when I could. This guide needs to be sorted out.
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on July 10, 2011
I just came back form 4 weeks in Guatemala, and I felt like the book showed the same quality as all the Lonely Planet books (I have LP China and Peru as well). The hotel recommendations were great, the prices were accurate, and the background info about Guatemala and the history was captivating as always. Multiple times I trusted that the bus would be there at the time LP said so and sure enough it was there! I have used Moon and Rough Guide before and while the books may have better recommendations or may be better written. LP has one thing that neither have, which is labeled maps with a grid and legend. That is something that just cannot be underestimated. The maps in LP are such a huge advantage compared with other guide books that I bought LP Guatemala without hesitation despite the negative reviews. I also feel that reviews such as "a sad day for LP" are more indicative of the superiority of previous books as opposed to what was the most helpful book on the market.
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on March 12, 2002
While the other reviewers clearly know more about Guatemala than I ever will, I found this book much more helpful than the Rough Guide. The maps were easier to read, and the hotel places had prices, which was very helpful to me...
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on August 22, 2013
Over the past 25 years I've solo backpacked to more than two dozen third-world countries on four continents. Never wo a Lonely Planet it is my Bible--the gold standard of real travelers. I never go anywhere wo it--it has everything an independent traveler needs---no need to even review it--its the best!!
DH Koester And There I Was Volume VII: A Backpacking Adventure In Guatemala
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on April 9, 2013
I am loving this book! It is full of valuable information that I'm using to plan my trip to Guatemala this summer. I won't leave home without it! Of course, I'm not surprised! Lonely Planet never lets me down!
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on February 8, 2011
We spent about two weeks in Guatemala (late Jan. of 2011) and this book was very helpful. It was pretty accurate on prices and had good recommendations for places to stay and eat.
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on June 5, 2013
This is the better, of several, guides for the country. Having just returned from Guate, it is a great review of the many places we visited, and worked, on a mission trip. It would have been more useful to have read it before we left. A great source of info about the country, including the trying times of the civil war, from which the people are still recovering. Very interesting read.
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on August 16, 2011
The Lonely Planet Guatemala Travel Guide is an excellent source of travel information. I have also used the Lonely Planet Guide for Costa Rica extensively and have found the information to be very useful, timely and accurate. I appreciate the focus on sustainable travel and the emphasis on sharing, experiencing and enjoying the local cultures and traditions. There is frequently a bit of dry, sarcastic humor interwoven into the narrative which can produce a chuckle or two. I would highly recommend the Lonely Planet Guides.
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