Lonely Planet Discover Peru 1st Ed.: 1st Edition Paperback – Jun 7 2011
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About the Author
Born of a Peruvian father from Chiclayo (an area - FYI - that has a reputation for producing very fierce people), Carolina has spent her life making regular sojourns to Peru to kiss her aunts, wrestle her cousins and eat as much ceviche as is humanly possible. When not experimenting with pisco sour ratios (three parts pisco, one part lime juice, simple syrup to taste), she makes her living as a freelance writer in New York City. She has contributed stories to Time, Budget Travel, Travel + Leisure and public radio station WNYC, and is the author of the uncouth and saucy arts blog C-Monster.net.
Top Customer Reviews
But because of this selection of highlights we missed the visit of the Temple of La Luna in Machu Picchu. Indeed "Discover Peru" does not mention the Temple of La Luna! This unique temple at a few hundreds meters above the main site is carved in the monolith on the right of any picture of the Machu Picchu. From there you really get the felling of this unique archaeological site as stressed by all the visitors we had the opportunity to talk.
Another exemple is Lima. This guide book does not mention the Museum of the Inquisition that we discover thanks to the map we got at the Tourism Office. The entrance is free and we got a presentation from a guide assistant. In my opinion this is important to know for anyone who is interested by the hispanic colonization of Peru.
I will not buy any other Lonely Planet of the edition "Discover..."
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Unfortunately, there appears to be confusion about this new LP series. Although each LP Discover so far covers one country, it does NOT replace LP Country Guides. Some people have bought it thinking it is a new look for an updated country guide and are not happy with it - "This is horrible, this is like a travel advertisement, I'll never buy another LP again, etc.". Needless to say, it is not for everyone. Fortunately, you have a lot of choices in the best guide for YOU, so...
WHICH IS THE RIGHT GUIDE FOR YOU?
If you want to visit Peru, you have several choices. Aside from three LP guides, there are guides from Eyewitness, Frommer's, National Geographic, Moon, Mobi, Fodor's, Rough Guide, Viva, and probably others. For this review, I have looked at the three Amazon guides only. A good way to decide which is best is to go to your library and look them all over.
Lonely Planet South America: On a Shoestring (Shoestring Travel Guide) has comprehensive but abbreviated coverage of every country. This would be a good choice if you were visiting several countries without spending a lot of time in most of them and weight is an issue (for example, if you are backpacking).
The traditional Lonely Planet Peru (Country Travel Guide) is a fine choice if you will be spending more time in one country in some depth. It has the most information of any of the books. However, it too is not for everyone; some people complain that this style is all text and not very exciting. There are SOME color pictures, and plenty of maps, but it is indeed mostly text. That information is what people buy it for.
Then there is this new Lonely Planet Discover Peru (Full Color Country Travel Guide). It has enough information for a casual traveler, but nowhere near as much as the LP country guide. It is excellent for doing research ahead of any trip to decide your priorities for where you will go. It is well designed for someone who wants to absorb a lot of information quickly via pictures, enough information to make informed choices on where to go.
As I sit here in Lima, preparing to go out for the day, I have all three guides with me. Which do I choose? Hands down: the LP Peru country guide (NOT LP Discover Peru). I don't need the pictures or the heavy glossy paper as I walk around; I do need facts. Sure, it covers the whole country, but so far there is no Lima City Guide, which would be my choice if it existed and I could have any guide I wanted.
I think that looking at the Discover guide before you have finalized your plans is ideal, but when it's time to go, bring either the LP Peru country guide (if you're spending significant time around Peru and maybe one other country) or the South America Guide (if you are going to hop around several countries). If will only visit briefly, the Discover guide should be enough. It does provide essential information to getting to places well outside of the city, such as Cusco/Machu Picchu.
I like the LP Country Guides because they have similar organizations, so if you are used to one, you can easily find the information you need in any of them. But I love the Discover guide for learning about a country that's new to me, or for finding places I have not discovered in an otherwise familiar country.
Having read LPDP and LPP, and the Peru section of LPSA, I think they are all good guides, but they are different guides for different travel plans.
COMPARING THE GUIDES: IN DETAIL
Note: LPDP means the LP Discover Peru book. LPP means the LP Peru Country Guide. LPSA is the LP South America guide.
Peru Page count: LPDP 372, LPP 580, LPSA 112 pages.
For Cusco area and Machu Piccu, LPDP 64, LPP 76, LPSA 20 pages.
For Puno, LPDP lists 8 restaurants and 3 bars, LPP lists 10 eating options and 3 bars, LPSA lists 5 restaurants and 1 bar.
Lima Museums described: LPDP 7, LPP 17, LPSA 5. LPP has the longest descriptions - up to a few paragraphs - then LPDP (one or two paragraphs) and LPSA (some one paragraph discusesses two museums). Museo de la Electricidad and other lesser-known museums are not covered in any of the guides.
The essential difference between LPDP and the other two is that the average page has about 50% taken up with pictures and maps, whereas the other two have an average of about 10% maps and pictures, leaving a lot more room for text. LPDP is printed on heavier, glossy paper, and though it has 64% as many pages as LPP, it weighs about the same.
If you are planning to spend 5 days to see Lima and Machu Picchu, any of the guides will suffice.
CONTENTS: 372 pages
Peru Overview: 47 pages
Lima: 40 pages
Nazca, Arequipa, the South: 42 pages
Puno and Lake Titicaca: 24 pages
Cuzco, Machu Picchu, and around: 64 pages
Huaraz, Trujillo and the North: 50 pages
Iquitos & Amazon Basin: 32 pages
Misc Information Listings: 48 pages
This book is brand new and I received a review copy 3 days before I left for South America. I have not noticed any problems in what it says, but my first visit is relatively short here. I think the book is a very good compromise of less information to allow more pictures, but for me, the country guide is a better choice when I am in the country. I read this book first to get a quick overview of the parts of the country I would be visiting.
Actually, I am pleasantly surprised. Although it has a lot of pictures, it doesn't really have the same feel as the DK line (disclaimer: I haven't read one of them in a long time). Whereas DK shows you where to go step-by-step, picture-by-picture so you don't get lost, the Discover just sort of acts like half "coffee-table book"/half guide book.
For me, that is actually perfect when you're in the planning phase of a trip or when you're trying to decide where to go. It gets you browsing even when you're not in the mood to read (and let's face it - the middle of most travel books is always tough reading), it gives you plenty of idea what you can expect to see, and you'll inevitably read more than if you're stuck with a huge block of dense text in front of you. ...Before my last vacation, I only had a regular LP from that brief blip in time when the whole book was blue and white, and I just couldn't get myself to read that thing until I was actually at my destination, which made it overall less helpful.
Understand that much of the text - especially in the back - is a direct copy from multiple other books by LP.
It loses a star for having the usual Lonely Planet problems - too much stating their beliefs as facts (regarding "green" matters), and just talking about it too much in general, using creative superlatives where there should be none, and an absurd fear of driving, which they also push on the reader, probably to push the agenda stated earlier in this paragraph. To be fair, these are common problems for many guidebooks.
I like this book, as it gives me a great intro to and gets me excited about going to Peru. I'm not really sure it'll be the only book I take along when I go, but for now, in the pre-planning phases, it's pretty nice to have around.
Inca trail around Machu Picchu is also discussed in about 3 pages. But the information may not be enough if you plan to take the 43km 4-day mountain trekking. Get a specialized book of Machu Picchu trekking. Web references of Peru mountain guide association are provided.
Peru is not just Machu Picchu! Discover Peru has a dedicated section of travelling to the jungle of Amazon Basin. However, I think the prices of jungle trekking and river cruises are too high.
Anyway, a map on pages 8-9 discloses the "25 top experiences," which include MACHU PICCU and nearby CUZCO, the NAZCA LINES (huge animal drawings in the desert and nearby HUACCACHINA (a beautifil resort community surrounded by tall sand dunes), CHAN CHAN (a huge city built in 1300 AD with a palace, mausoleum, assembly room, and temple), and nearby TRUJILLO, and so on. The book is color-coded, and the sections are entitled: PUNO & LAKE TITICACA (turquoise color code), CUZCO & MACHU PICCHU (red color), HUAREZ & TRUJILLO (green color), and IQUITOS & AMAZON BASIN (blue color).
A quick review of the photos will treat the reader to images of ancient carvings from Lima's pre-Columnbian art museum (page 20), a street market vendor selling brightly colored textiles (p. 25), an intact CHICLAYO tomb (p. 27), an ancient pyramid-like palace near Lima (p. 85), water scenes of LAKE TITICACA (many photos on pages 136-143), an annual native festivity called INTI RAYMI with dancers and musicians (page 199). Page 220 provides a photo of part of the "Inca Trail," which requires a 4-day hike over various mountain peaks. Page 252 shows a huge stone carving of a head, CHAVIN DE HUANTAR, which is from an area where there is a group of temples built from 1200 BC to 800 BC. Page 262 shows a massive temple, HUACAS DEL SOL Y DE LA LUNA, built about 1500 years ago. Page 272 shows an elegant, modern museum devoted to all the discoveries form SIPAN TOMBS. At this point, it should be clear what a trip to Peru is all about -- not swank hotels and night clubs, not the symphony orchestra, not the world's most amazing waterfall, but instead, buildings from ancient civilizations.
Finally, on pages 278-311, we find many photographs from the Amazon River area, including parrots, piranhas, hummingbirds, butterflies at PILPINTUWASI BUTTERFLY FARM, a jungle, another jungle, and still another jungle.
Now, let us dive into the text of this guidebook. Pages 42-45 detail celebrations that are regularly scheduled for each month of the year, e.g., PUNO WEEK with "street dancing with spectacular costumes to celebrate the emergence of the first Incas . . . an opportunity to imbible lots of chicha (corn beer) and dance." Regarding a restaurant called Fiesta (page 78), we read, "It cooks up an achingly tender arroz con pato a la chiclayana and serves a spectacular ceviche a la brasa. The result is a fish that is lightly smoky." Regarding AREQUIPA, Peru's second largest city, we read about a little restaurant called, "Crepisimo," which "has a crackling fireplace, balcony tables, board games, and more than 100 kinds of sweet and savory crepes filled with . . . smoked trout or . . .fruits" (page 121). To conclude, I liked reading this book, just because it provided me with a relaxing hour with plenty of color photos and not too much to strain the brain. However, being that Peru is such a huge country, one should not expect a 374 page guidebook to maximally cover the topic, for example, to list all of the hired tour guide companies, or companies that offer van services or bus services for tourists.