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In the Best Egypt Guidebook Debate of 2007, the winner is…

May 25th, 2007 · 6 Comments

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Rough Guides!

In a surprising upset, The Rough Guide to Egypt beat out my usual go-to, Lonely Planet. Published in December 2005, I found that hardly any information was out of date. It offered a lot of background information and history and the cover alone will make you want to fly off to see Islamic Cairo right this instant.

A new updated version will be available at the end of July (sadly with a new, sightly less evocative cover as you’ll see below).

In comparison, I felt like Lonely Planet kind of phoned it in on this one. In this May 2006 edition, there wasn’t a lot of meat, especially in regards to lesser-known sights. I found their maps (especially in Aswan) to be lacking and their restaurant options countrywide to be ho-hum. In a few sections, like their description of Bir Wahed in Siwa, it seemed like they just pulled text straight from the Rough Guide! What gives, LP? Halfway though the trip, I ended up tearing out a few key pages and leaving the rest behind in my hotel room.

The hard part about picking travel guides is that you never really know how useful it will be until you get there. Obviously you can figure out pretty quickly if you’re more of a Lonely Planet / Rough Guides traveler rather than a Fodor’s kind of girl, but my best advice is to always start off with a couple of guides to reference against each other. You can never seem to have too many restaurant options. Then, if you notice you’re using one book more than the other, do what I did. Tear out the few sections that seem to complement your other book and leave the rest behind for someone else to enjoy.

I actually ended up bringing a third guidebook, Eyewitness Travel Guide’s Egypt. It mostly focuses on sightseeing in Cairo and Luxor (a lot of mosques and churches). I liked it for the pictures, but it was less of a reference while I was on the trip. In fact, it mostly sat at the bottom of my bag for the duration. I use it as more of a keepsake and mind jogger now that I have returned. The new 2007 edition should be available at the end of August.

Tags: Books · Egypt · Travel Gear

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  • 6 responses so far ↓

    • 1 Maryam in Marrakesh // May 26, 2007 at 4:54 am

      I find that a lot of my older friends are into Eye Witness. My problem with all guidebooks is that they are just kind of dry. I am writing short city guides bi-monthly for an airline magazine (Casablanca and Marrakech) and am hoping to make them more amusing. And I am going to write my own little fun guidebook for Marrakech for my friends and guests.

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    • 2 Travel Betty // May 27, 2007 at 12:09 pm

      I think you’re right on about Eyewitness being for a more older crowd, although the photos are pretty.

      That’s great about your airline mag opportunity. I agree that most guidebooks could use a bit of personality. Although hats off to guidebook writers. It’s not as glamorous a job as one would imagine.

      Smart idea for the Marrakech guidebook for your guesthouse. I know I’d love something more personal like that as a guest.

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    • 3 KeithSF // Jul 12, 2007 at 11:10 am

      Great Blog Travel Betty-We are planning a trip around the world and will be going for 6 months. We are getting stressed about planning, but your blog helped this morning (come on Egypt 7000-write us back)!

      It seems that we wake up every morning and run to open our email to see what information tidbits came our way during the night.

      We are currently looking at some of your other trips-good writing, too.

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    • 4 Travel Betty // Jul 12, 2007 at 11:47 am

      Thanks for the compliment, Keith! You really made my day. I’m glad I can be of help and I sure hope you have a blast on your trip. I’m so jealous. SIX months! If only I could talk Travel Boyfriend into that!!

      I totally understand the email checking too. Sometimes I’d be so excited I’d wake up in the middle of the night and log on!

      Stop back and let us know how your trip is going.

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    • 5 Keith SF // Sep 4, 2007 at 9:27 am

      2 days to go until we depart on our six-month trip! Thanks for the blog inspiration–we are working on uploading videos to our blog soon, and will list yours as one of our favorites!

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    • 6 Travel Betty // Sep 5, 2007 at 6:35 am

      Have a BLAST, Keith! I can’t wait to read about your travel exploits over the next few months.

      I’m glad I could help out a bit with your planning. Come back with lots of good stories.

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