Much as I'm glad to have at least some of von Humboldt's very important travel writings availible, this edition is sadly emasculated.
While it does include the initial Amazonian phase of Humboldt's South American expedition, the narrative is cut short at mid-point, von Humboldt's stay in Cuba. It's inconceivable to me that the editor would have omitted all of the author's writing on his exploration of the Andes, and in particular the volcanoes of South America.
Those excluded descriptions are not only fascinating to read today, but were also what most inspired readers in von Humboldt's own day. As a matter of fact, von Humboldt's account of the Andes so inspired the 19th-century imagination, that the era's greatest landscape painters, such as Frederic Church, actually travelled to South American specifically to witness and depict the vistas which von Humboldt had recorded in print. The integral von Humboldt, in contrast with the one presented here, wanted not simply to view and record exotic cultures and climates, but far beyond this to attempt as much as possible to experience the totality of the Cosmos in microcosmic form. The closest von Humboldt came to this impossible experience was his rapid ascent of the large volcanoes of South America, insofar as in this manner he could pass, virtually, through all the Earth's various climates in a single day--an astounding and Romantic feat completely unavailable to anyone using this edition as an introduction to von Humboldt.
But none of the above can be glimpsed even remotely by the reader equipt with only the Penguin edition. Because of the premature truncation of the text, one entirely loses sight of von Humboldt's overarching project, which was not merely a geographical descripton of the Earth's surface, but rather a geodetical construction of the World as an organic Unity. Thus abbreviated, von Humboldt appears scarcely different from his Enlightenment precursors; we lose all view of him as writer who has passed through defiles of Romanticism. Not the real von Humboldt at all.
Rather than making one rash cut down the middle, the editor would have served the reader much better by extracting key episodes from von Humboldt's entire journey. As I said above, something is generally better than nothing at all. But in this particular case, not much better.