Book Review: Great Journeys – Lonely Planet

I absolutely loved Lonely Planet’s Great Adventures and couldn’t wait to get my hands on other books in the series. Great Journeys was published first and, while still a lot of fun, doesn’t quite live up to its successor.

The book is divided into eight sections: Overland, Rail, Explorers & Conquerors, Rivers & Seas, Ancient Trade Routes, Literary Journeys, Road, and Walks & Pilgrimages.
In theory, this all sounds terrific. In practice, not so much.

What I liked about Adventures is that it focused on short trips that, should budget and fitness allow, anyone can do as an interesting holiday option. Journeys, on the other hand, is exactly that – long journeys that take anything from three months to three years. You need to be a dedicated traveller to have the time to pursue the majority of the trips mentioned in this book. While I enjoyed reading about them, I knew I would never be able to follow through on most of them. That left me very disappointed.

However, if you’re a dedicated armchair traveller and have no intention of getting up from your comfy seat anytime soon, then this book comes highly recommended. There are some editing and proofreading issues (imagine my chagrin when the text for the Istanbul to Cairo overland trip on p26 is repeated on p58 under the Palace on Wheels heading!), and while Adventures has fantastic recommendations on novels for further reading to get you in the mood, Journeys mostly recommends foreign films or field guides.

The full colour pictures and text do not disappoint and there are some incredible journeys that I wish I could undertake, especially the luxury train journeys (think South Africa’s Blue Train and Rovos Rail, the Trans-Siberian and, of course, the Orient Express), walking the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu or the Camino de Santiago, or following in the footsteps of Homer’s Odyssey or Jules Verne’s classic novel Around the World in 80 Days. There is even one trip that I have already done (South Africa’s Cape Route 62) and one that I’ve partially done (the Amalfi Coast Road), which was a nice surprise.

Admittedly, there are tips on how to do shortened versions of each journey, but that misses the point, doesn’t it? Go big or go home, is what I say. And if there’s ever a book that can inspire you to go big, then this is it.

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