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Argentina (Bradt Travel Guides) Paperback – 28 Jul 2006
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Bradt guides take you to the farthest corners of every country and are written in an opinionated, pleasing to read manner that make the books as much as a novel as guide. The Argentina book is no different with a plethora of long, narrative passages and fine background information --Suite101.com
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Hilary and George Bradt first got the idea to begin writing travel guides during their trip to South America in 1973. The couple wanted to write travel guides that focused on unusual locations to travel to and on a very personal style of writing. The company tries to have the author's personal voice infused into the books, making their style half travel guide, half travelogues. Also, the company claims to only select authors with "passion for, and knowledge of, the places which they write about."
Bradt has been recognized as one of the best travel guide publishers by the critical community for over a decade. In 1997, Bradt won the Sunday Times Small Publisher of the Year Award. Six of their books have been awarded Best Guide Book by the British Guild of Travel Writers. In 2008, Hilary Bradt was awarded the Order of the British Empire Award by Queen Elizabeth for "services to the Tourist Industry and to Charity."
Charity is major initiative at Bradt. They promote "sustainable travel" or traveling positively. In addition to traveling in a respectful manner, the company website also promotes giving back to the communities travelers visit. In Argentina: The Bradt Travel Guide and Tibet: The Bradt Travel Guide there is an entire section entitled "giving something back" which details how to contact different humanitarian and ecological organizations working in the area. One organization Bradt mentions that is working in Tibet is the Seva Foundation. There is a large amount of preventable blindness in Tibet which could be stopped with adequate health care. Seva works to train doctors in the area to perform the necessary surgery and create clinics for some of Tibet's poorest. In addition to the content in their books, Bradt also runs the website [...], which tells travelers what to bring with them while traveling to help the areas they are visiting. This humanitarian / ecological focus is unique and sets the tone for the rest of the guide.
Another peculiar feature of the Bradt guides is their inclusion of hiking and camping information. Bradt assumes that the audience interested in going "the road less traveled" will be interested in more adventurous excursions. In Argentina, there is a small section devoted to backpacking and camping, but there is an entire ancillary guide entitled Bradt Hiking Guide to Argentina and Chile which goes into much more detail. There isn't a particular section in Tibet for hiking, but there are references to it throughout the book and it is almost assumed that the reader will wish to hike while traveling through Tibet.
Regardless of Bradt's special focus, their books still function as excellent overall travel guides. Each book has a quick facts section which is filled with useful information such as common phrases, approximate currency exchanges, and a table of contents for all the different maps in the book. The table of contents proper is logically laid out with each chapter fully delineated for the reader to find information quickly and easily.
All the basic information one would expect to find in a travel guides, such as safety and transportation, is covered in great detail. When traveling abroad, safety is always the number one priority. Bradt is careful to cover not only general safety tips, but also special concerns for female travelers. For example, Tibet instructs women to dress modestly by Tibetan standards (with little flesh showing) to avoid attracting unwanted attention. Argentina includes an entire section on sexual harassment. However, the guides manage to discuss these serious concerns without scaring off the reader.
This fair and balanced approach is used to cover accommodations as well. The accommodation section is specific to each guide. In Tibet the accommodations are divided into two different sections depending on their location within the city and then sub-divided into price ranges that range from something that most can afford to the ultra luxurious. The author of Argentina chooses to divide the accommodations section into the different types of lodgings ranging from camping to hotels to lodges. While there is not a strict order, the different styles of accommodations appear to be arranged by price. Due to the size and scope of Argentina, no specific hotels were mentioned in the accommodations section (they were mentioned in the guide section, which was divided geographically) while particular hotels and their contact information was listed in Tibet. Transportation is handled in a similar way. It is divided into different modes of transportation and further divided by price.
The first two sections of the Bradt books, background and practical information, are where most companies stop. The guide section of Bradt guides is one of the company's distinguishing factors. The guide section varies greatly from book to book, not only because from differences from country to country, but also from author to author. For example, Argentina's guide section is divided by region. Within each regional section is a wealth of information on how to travel to the region, where to stay, and what to do. The author of Tibet takes a different approach, dividing the sections by different travel routes (ie Lhasa to Katmandu) as well as sub regions of the Tibetan province.
While Bradt guides may be some of the best in the business, there are features which some audiences will not find attractive. First and foremost, there are very few pictures in the guide at all. While this allows for more information, it means the reader will need to be dedicated to traveling if they wish to read Bradt guides. What is more, the guide is published in the UK, so the style and spelling is unusual for many American readers. Also, all the measurements are in the metric system, so it may be difficult for the American reader to comprehend some of the measurements the authors use. Also, the selection of books is vast (138 in total), but almost all the locations are exotic and not usually covered by most travel guides.
Bradt is a company started by adventurers for adventurers. The vast amount of information and the rather simple presentation will appeal mainly to those who already know where they want to go, but want more information on the country. It is often said that "the Devil is in the details." Those who like to to spend hours looking at maps and planning their trip should find Bradt guides useful. Humanitarians and ecologically minded folk will absolutely love the social action and green minded focus to the guides. In short, Bradt guides are perfect for the serious traveler with a taste for the exotic and human. Those looking for a "normal" vacation should stay clear.