Lonely Planet–Egypt takes a practical approach to its readers and audience. It steers away from the hippie flavour of The Rough Guide (where the virtues of sleeping on a friendly native’s roof are dwelled on at the expense of more mundane information) and adopts a tone that is sensible and thoughtful, though not timid.
The information is thorough and for the most part accurate. Particularly useful are the suggested highlights for every major city, which, though doomed to meet with dissent, generally provide a good foundation for planning an itinerary. The inclusion of good, colour photographs is also a benefit. There are some notable weaknesses. Maps are disjointed and difficult to relate to each other, and there are vital moments where the guide shies away from making specific recommendations or suggesting priorities. This can make choosing which of Cairo’s mosques or Luxor’s West Bank tombs to visit a slightly hit-and-miss affair, especially if your time is limited.
An early disclaimer wails (justifiably) that “Things change”, and there are already some areas where the information is incorrect. However, if you’re a tourist, rather than a traveller, with weeks rather than months to spend in Egypt (and you’re ready to view a guide book as a guide, rather than as an authority), then this may well be the single best book with which to plan and enjoy your visit. —Richard Kelly