In a slight departure from the norm, we are going to look now at books that don’t feature amphibians or reptiles! One of the pleasures in travelling can be the anticipation and excitement leading up to a trip as you think about your plans and routes and a good guide book can be essential.
The Lonely Planet Guide to Guatemala (2010)
This Guide follows the tried and tested Lonely Planet format; nice layout, good maps, lots of tips and itinerary ideas and the essentials regarding food, money, medicine etc. They also provide some background to the purely practical advice with a culture section and a 15 page crash course in Guatemalan history! It splits the country into a number of areas; the capital itself, Antigua, the Highlands, Pacific Slope and importantly for Project Chicchan, the Peten region. Flores and Tikal are covered as you would expect and Las Guacamayas also gets a good mention as well as El Peru – a Mayan ruin that is always included as part of our expeditions to the area.
Central America on a Shoestring (2010)
Also by Lonely Planet, is not surprisingly very similar in appearance with individual country accounts condensed into more compact versions. There still seems to be a good depth of coverage throughout. Just flicking through it is enough to get the travel bug twitching; National Parks are featured prominently throughout with the mouth- watering prospect of lots of amphibians and reptiles just waiting to be found!
The Footprint guide to Belize, Guatemala & Southern Mexico (2008)
Although relating to only a small proportion of the areas covered in the previous book, somehow this one seems less detailed. A lot of the basic information is still present but I found it slightly harder to use as the A-Z section for instance covers all 3 countries in one section, with separate headings for media, drugs, cost of travelling, opening hours etc. The individual country sections then focus on pretty much the same things as the Lonely Planet books. Peten is featured and Las Guacamayas gets a mention (albeit spelt incorrectly).
In truth there is probably little difference in the usefulness and validity of the information provided. Personal taste will guide a reader to a particular style and way of presenting the facts that they find easier to use. For me (possibly due to being familiar with them from trips to other countries in the past) I felt comfortable with the Lonely Planet Guides.
For current expeditions you wouldn’t need any more than the Guatemala book (and your trusty Indigo Field Team of course!).
However if I was lucky enough to be travelling more widely in the area and crossing into other countries I’d certainly have ‘Central America on a Shoestring’ with me as well. One day perhaps! Perhaps in future years we may even get to the point where we are featured in any guidebook to Guatemala as a suggested ‘must do’ for the country!
REVIEW: Gary Powell, 29 September 2015 Photo Credit: Simon Norfolk