Most helpful critical review
38 of 40 people found the following review helpful
Okay at best
on 23 August 2009
Having just come back from a three week vacation to Colombia using this guide, I'm really disappointed. Lonely Planet's previous Colombia guide was written by someone who later admitted to never having set foot in the country (search 'Lonely Planet Colombia scandal' if you wish to know more: it was featured in the UK Times, April 15th, 2008). It feels like this edition has been rushed out to protect the brand's reputation - the overall production and quality of the title feels hurried.
Information is up-to-date enough, but it feels lightweight and incomplete. Reading this guide and you would be forgiven for thinking that Cartagena doesn't have a beach in the city (it has numerous); that the Parque Nacional Tayrona is open whatever the weather (if it's windy, the entire park shuts and travellers are frequently turned back from its gates); that you have to pay a departure tax when leaving after short stays (you don't).
Of course, it's not the Lonely Planet's fault when places change: good hotels become bad and bad become good, but we found (almost comically) that most recommended places were quite poor, and vice versa. Occasionally though it seemed like the Lonely Planet writer must have been on an entirely different planet to the Colombia we visited: one example is there is no reason to stay in Finca El Pariaso in Parque Nacional Tayrona which is by far the worst value campsite/hammock ground, although the Lonely Planet describes it as 'nicely done'. In a different universe, maybe, but all the travellers we spoke to there felt universally ripped off.
The proofing of the book is just poor: it's not the end of the world if web addresses are frequently wrong, but it just looks like it's been shoved together when you see impossible URLS like 'domain.com/path/specificpage.com'. The indexing is frequently out at the back of the book. The whole thing is stuffed full of typos. As an additional criticism, there are just a few short pages of photos at the front - more wouldn't go amiss!
But the saddest thing is the book is just empty of the insider tips and tricks you expect from guides like this - from people and locals who really know the country. One such tip is never buy a bottle of water - only travellers shell out COP$1500 on a bottle whereas locals always buy water in bags (funny to use at first) for COP$300. It's stuff like this the guide is really lacking.
The kindest thing I can say is it's better than nothing.