(crossposted from my LJ)
I've discovered that going through old Lonely Planet travel guides can be fun. Yes, I'm a total nerd. Today, the second edition of Lonely Planet's Africa guide ("Africa On The Cheap" by Geoff Crowther) from 1980 arrived. Some interesting points of note..
Most of the maps are hand-drawn. Several countries (Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, Congo-Brazzaville, one or two others) have only two pages of detail, as they can't find anyone who's been there... though in the third edition (which finally gets the name "Africa On A Shoestring") Crowther talks about getting a tourist visa to visit Equatorial Guinea, and discovering that it's Tourist Visa #001.
All of the country chapters are fairly brief on detail. Occasionally you'll see editorial comments that would never make it into a modern LP book- in the section on getting visas for other countries in The Gambia, Crowther notes that "the Secretary at the Sierra Leone High Commission is a real bolshie bastard".
Crowther says Lagos, Nigeria is a hellhole, but that "if you are crazy, do not miss this place". Roads in Nigeria are "very good and most are sealed" and "journeys are relatively short". How much has changed.. There are details about taking trains around the country (try that now!), and even information about sleeper cars and first/second class seating.
In the third edition, things have changed a bit- Nigeria has hit its 1980s economic bust and has finished its mass expulsion of Ghanaians and other foreigners. All of its land borders are sealed, and the only way in or out of the country is by air. And that's not a very happy way to enter the country either- Crowther warns that you absolutely do not want to be the last person off of an arriving international flight, otherwise you're going to have to hand out bribes right and left.
I still haven't found the first edition for sale yet, but I'm looking.... Anyone have any interesting/amusing bits they've found in African travel guides to share?