7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
- Published on Amazon.com
Relatively complete information for a new visitor to Brazil
Format of the information is consistent with other LP guides, making it easy to find what I need
At least one inaccurate city map
Out of date information on at least one sight
May not be as thoroughly updated as I would prefer
I like the Lonely Planet guides because they the country guides are written with a consistent plan. That means that if you get used to finding information in a recent guide, you'll be able to find that information in recent guides for other countries. I have gone to Brazil four times for work, but have some spare time to look around, and this book us helpful both for basic information that even a business traveler needs ("Dangers and Annoyances" in particular) as well as fun things to do when there is time.
In most LP guides, they list the biggest city first. In this one, they list Rio de Janeiro first, probably because it is the most popular destination. São Paulo is much bigger, though not much of a tourist destination, so I guess that is why it comes much later in the book.
LP helps me find good things to see and do in my off time. Visiting the central market (Mercado Municipal) was a worthwhile morning in São Paulo. I would not especially recommend São Paulo, but my business usually includes it.
Ouro Preto certainly did not disappoint as a day trip from Belo Horizonte. However, the map for Ouro Preto was incorrect: some streets were mislabeled compared to the signs I found. As convoluted as the streets are in this town, and given they are on steep hills, the problem caused me more walking when I was ready to wind down.
Another day trip I wanted to take from BH was Gruto Rei do Mato, which LP describes as caves that feature ancient cave paintings, petroglyphs, and bones of an extinct animal. What I found when I got there is that it did not open until 1 PM (not 8 AM as listed in the guide), so I had to wait to get in. After seeing one cave, the tour was over - no paintings, petroglyphs, or bones. A local person said he had been to the cave three times and never seen them because they were located in a smaller cave that has been closed for a few years. To me, without these features, it was just another cavern lit up with colorful lights (LEDs). Since I have seen such caves elsewhere, I would never have spent a precious day off visiting the cave had I known that the most interesting features was closed. This guide is only six months old, and I think they should have re-researched such facts to ensure they were still accurate.
The Belo Horizonte bus station is called Rodoviária, but LP calls it only "the bus station" in the text and on the map. You'll have an easier time getting there if tell the driver "Eu vou a Rodoviária" (the name for the bus station) instead of "Eu vou a estação de ônibus" (the words for bus station; forgive me if my Portuguese is not good: the drivers understand the first form just fine). LP correctly tells you that there is a bus to Ouro Preto from BH bus station, but it does not tell you where to catch the bus to Sete Lagoas (for Gruto Rei do Mato; the answer is Rodoviária), or where to catch a bus back to BH from the cave (you may be able to flag it down on the entrance ramp, but I got a ride to the Rodoviária in Sete Lagoas from one of the other people touring the cave).
The point is, if in my short trip this time I encountered this many problems, there are probably as many in other parts of the book. I don't expect travel guides to be perfect, but these problems add up to two stars off an otherwise good guide.
By the way, Belo Horizonte itself is a pleasant and approachable town for walking, especially the "planned part" inside Avenida do Contorno (the circle that encloses the double-grid streets); outside of Contorno it is a sprawl. There are many Butecos (casual bars with food and lots of people) and por kilo restaurants (buffets of Brazilian food sold by weight). The city seems safer than SP and Rio, but keep your safety awareness on, especially after sunset, and in the area around the Rodoviária. LP tells you these things, and I think it is right.
The section on the nation's capital, Brasilia, makes a valiant attempt to make the place sound worth visiting. From my perspective, it is a pedestrian's nightmare, since the city is mainly built around highways and ramps that are hard to navigate on foot: it was built as a car driver's utopia. There is some unique and interesting modern architecture, but not much of it. At the end of the section they admit that "residents love it but visitors love to hate it."
If you do use this travel guide, I strongly recommend you check before going somewhere to make sure you are not disappointed.
I would have given the review 3 1/2 stars if I could, but given the problems and the choice of stars, I'll give it three.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
- Published on Amazon.com
I cannot possibly agree more with an earlier review suggesting that the book's coverage was horrendous - though the problems don't stop there. Maps are not really accurate (hence will cost you much unnecessary walking), recommended pousadas are overcharged student hostels with rooms scantly larger than Japanese 'coffin beds', and 'safety advices' aren't really reliable (be sure to find in the next edition a line like 'with the World Cup and the Olympics coming up soon, however, all these are bound to change as the government is determined to clean up blah blah blah'). Mightily disappointed by an LP for once.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
- Published on Amazon.com
I've been using Lonely Planet tour books for at least 20 years. I like the way the chapters are organized and the fact that I've often found off the beaten path places to visit. If it hadn't been for Lonely Planet, I never would have found or visited Parque Natural do Caraca, home to an old monastery isolated in the mountains and frequented by maned wolves that they feed on the steps of the church every night. I also found out about an indigenous village near Ilheus that was mentioned in the book.
Although information on places to stay is often dated due to the time lapse between when the information is collected and when the book as published, as well as the time between different editions being published, I still have been able to find many quaint and charming places to stay.
So I plan on sticking with Lonely Planet as my main source of information aside from the internet.
- Published on Amazon.com
The book is just alright. Prices seem to be inaccurate especially in the cities. Taxis are more expensive by at least double what is listed in the book. No mention of horrendous traffic or estimated times to arrive at airports. Other things not mentioned is how expensive it is to get ones laundry done if not in an hostel, like $250 USD for a load. Food prices seem to be skyrocketing here. It appears as though perhaps the writers cannot keep up with the changing prices? Tam passes are just as expensive if not buying the flights right out. Suggestions on accommodations are lacking as i turn to tripadvisor for better suggestions. The whole chapter on Carnaval is a joke as we had made reservations 3 months in advance on hotel points, but the hotel prices themselves were starting at $400 at taht time. Suggestions on where to get sambodromo tickets was lacking as well. Few website suggestions for bus travel throughout brazil. Overall could be better. I feel like they need to break the book down into regions like they have with China because it is such a big country, that way there will be more details.