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on November 22, 2010
I have used about a dozen different Lonely Planet guides over the years and have generally been quite happy with them. So when I was planning a trip to Ghana, Togo, Benin, and Burkina Faso, I did not hesitate to purchase the Lonely Planet West Africa guide, especially since it was the most recent guidebook covering all four countries. What a mistake! I realise that there must be some severe word-count restrictions in a book that covers 17 different countries, but that doesn't provide an excuse for omitting basic details that travellers need. The authors manage to convey just enough information to raise more questions than they answer. Information such as this bus company operates on this route once a week is almost useless without indicating which day of the week or providing a contact phone number. There's no mention of the main gare routiere in Ouagadougou at all, even though one would think that travellers might end up there. Many good transportation options are missing -- you aren't at the mercy of the Tro-Tros everywhere! The maps contain many errors, and the city maps are especially good at cutting off main attractions and hotels. Prices seem to be years out of date, even though the guidebook was published only a year ago. The background information is interesting and complete, but it seems to be at the expense of the rest of the guide. The Rough Guide, although slightly older, does a much better job with the limited space available.
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on March 18, 2002
I once said I would never buy a Lonely Planet guide again, so disappointed I was with their Iceland and Greenland book which was poorly researched, inaccurate and full of rabid anti-American rhetoric.
For my trip to Ghana, it was, however, a choice of only three books available: a semiprofessional Bradt's Ghana (not a guidebook really, more an amateurish newsletter), supremely boring Rough Guide or Lonely Planet. I bought them all in the name of research.
I would say Lonely Planet is best of them all, although certain chapters preaching about evil ways of Western capitalism still reek of Lonely Planet's self-appointed role of bettering the world. Quite annoying, really, and in many cases hypocritical, coming from a lean-and-mean profit-making publishing house.
Most facts about travel, eating, accommodation, etc are accurate and well-researched, although as usual information to someone with a bit bigger budget is very fragmented.
They could give more information about useful websites for both ticket booking and accommodation.
Overall, if you are only buying one book for West Africa, this is the one. If you can get two - buy the Rough Guide as well: it may be boring and cultural information reads as if it was written by your local tax office, but you will get many additional addresses and phone numbers.
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on May 11, 2003
Indeed, this book ("Lonely Planet West Africa") did a good job in outlining many of the popular tourist attractions that are located in this Sub-Saharan region of Africa. I also appreciated its details on several tourists' trails, accomodations, means of transportation, and so on. However, I was very disappointed to note that (just like the "Lonely Planet Africa on a Shoestring") this book is full of discouraging comments. Some of the phrases Lonely Planet used in this book are quite offensive.
For sure, most foreigners who travel to (West) African countries are not expecting to see a paradise, but that does not mean that there is no better way of presenting real and imaginary negative thoughts. This book is smeared by terms and phrases, which I consider derogatory to both (West) Africa and (West) Africans. As a result of this, I will never recommend it to anyone until there is a change of heart by Lonely Planet in subsequent editions.
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on January 19, 2002
I really enjoyed this book. I feel it is the best written LP I've ever read (and I've read and traveled with many LP titles). I used the Sénégal section and found the hotel listings current and the maps very accurate. I really liked the special boxes with additional information on dangers, scams, and personal safety. I personally witnessed many things that I had read about in this book, making me ready for would be scam artists. One guy approached me and said "Remember me from the hotel lobby?" I had to keep myself from laughing. I replied back "I think so, which hotel?" and he didn't know what to say. With LP West Africa you will be well prepared to travel in one of the hardest places to travel in the world.
NOTE: The book is 4 years old and the region is even more unsafe now then it was 4 years ago. Be careful when traveling there.
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on February 14, 2001
I spent several weeks travelling through Ghana, Cote D'Ivoire and Senegal in late 1999. it was the first time i had ever travelled alone and this book served as my primary companion. although i didn't always agree with the ratings of particular establishments (especially in Cote D'Ivoire), I found it to be very well researched and handy to have both for its quick maps and background information on the countries. I also purchased the Rough Guide to West Africa, b/c I am a big fan of their series, but the Lonely Planet guide was by far the best for this region. Keep in mind that the political situations in these countries change so abruptly that you still need to be prepared for anything. For example, there was a coup d'etat in Cote D'Ivoire while i was there. I still had a tremendous time on my trip, and i know that lonely planet deserves some of the credit.
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on November 9, 2003
This book is practically the bible for W. Africa travel. I lived and worked in W. Africa for 3 years (2 years as a Peace Corps volunteer) and I never went anywhere without consulting LP. The information is as accurate as anything out there. It offers you suggested itineraries and "off the beaten path" suggestions as well as the traditionally touristy destinations. Many parts are less objective than other parts and the writers tend to harp on corruption. But W. Africa is a pretty corrupt place in general. If you don't like the editorial sections, skip 'em, the info you need is still there.
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on July 16, 2006
A beautiful travel book on West Africa . It gives one a good idea of the counties, of west Africa Africa, ie their ethnic compositions, flora and fauna and physical features. Highly recommended.Also enjoyed reading The Usurper and Other Stories, Mango Elephants in the Sun, Triple Agent Double Cross,The old man and the medal,Nervous Conditions, Shake hands with the Devil, Disciples of Fortune. They gave me a better understanding and pulse of the region and Africa at large.
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on August 3, 1999
YES! Lonely Planet continues to show us the trail others have blazed! I have used Lonely Planet guides extensively while traveling the interior of West Africa. I have always found them to be candid and accurate pertaining to lodging and dining accommodations. The backpacker's Bible! Thanks for keeping up to date with the rapid changes taking place in W. Africa! See you on the trail......
Johnny Connelly
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on September 14, 2000
Going to West Africa? Even a single Country? Buy this book. The historical summaries are passable and the guides to lodging and transport are the best you will find. Great Job, Lonely Planet People!
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on August 24, 2015
Very useful
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