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Africa on a Shoestring (Lonely Planet Shoestring Guide) Paperback – 26 Jan 2001
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Africa is so vast that any attempt to cover it in one book is doomed to superficiality. In tacit acceptance of this, Lonely Planet have jazzed up the latest edition of their Africa on a Shoestring guide with a post-modern cover: after all, if you are going to deal with things on a superficial basis, you need to have a sexy front.
The authors have struggled against the straitjacket of this format, and--given the constraints--the historical sections are notably rich. But nevertheless, the task of providing thorough, detailed and up-to-date information on 48 countries in under 1000 pages proves difficult indeed. Although the whole continent is covered, the chapters on war-torn countries are preceded by the information that the authors were unable to do first-hand research, while peaceful countries tend to include only the capital and a few centres. More heavily touristed areas get a slightly fuller picture but, since many visitors to these places do not stray further afield, it is difficult to see how this book could supplant a straightforward country guide.As the only book of its kind dealing with the continent as a whole, Africa On a Shoestring will certainly be of value to those visiting more than one region of Africa, or to those visiting countries that do not appear in any other book (Sao Tomé and Djibouti, for instance). But anyone visiting just one of the regions would be much better off with a regional guide: The Rough Guide to West Africa, and the Footprint East Africa Handbook 2001, being the best choices. --Toby Green
Covering every country on the African continent, this book gives practical advice on getting around, including visa and border requirements. It offer eating and sleeping suggestions geared toward the needs of the budget traveller, and features important information on health and personal safety.
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Most helpful customer reviews on Amazon.com
and tourist attractions/locales/interests. Gives the mind a framework for Africa and potentially to guide decisions about vacation options. For actual travel, more specific literature is needed, but this book is an excellent opening to understanding and contemplating Africa. I was enthralled!
Again, this book would have been of better psychic value, had its authors showed confidence in the sections they dealt with. Its 'information' became a wet blanket for me. Many readers who intend to visit African countries are likey to be discouraged by its relentless pessimistic approach. Its outlook is more critical than 'touristical'. The general impression is this: "something good may not come out of Africa". That is shameful! The term "bush-taxi", which was used over and over again, in lieu of a more cordial 'local-taxi' sounds offensive.
I think that if written (or revised) without assumptive bias, this book would be of better quality and value to its users.
For those who would like to go to Arica(which I encourage people to do).This book will help you decide where you would like to go because of the many short chapters on each of the countries. After you decide where you want to go, I would recommend getting more up to date and detailed information because this book could use some more detail on individual countries.
I also liked this book for the brief histories on each of the countries. Much of this information is difficult to find and would require much time reading obscure books on the subject. These countries have facinating histories and the book does help to shed a little light on that subject.
My overall feeling is that a traveler would be much better equipped by purchasing the regional guides published by Lonely Planet, such as East Africa or West Africa... not this huge, all-encompassing guidebook. For countries not covered, such as Ethiopia or Djibouti, check out Rough Guide or Moon Publications. All of these options offer much more current information than provided here.
If you take a look at LP's Guidebook to Kenya, you will see that it alone has 384 pages! It is simply impossible to condense this into a single worthwhile chapter in the Africa on a Shoestring Guide.
I still gave the book four stars based on the simple fact that it provides excellent maps of the major cities and destinations in Africa and at least a framework for orienting yourself in a given place. If you are backpacking and need to save space, this book does help you out immensely, which is probably its intended function. Just don't put too much faith in it for providing accurate, current details on lodging, transport, or the current "scene."