I am planning a 2-4 week trip to South America. I am most likely going to visit Brazil and Argentina. I am not sure whether I will visit Paraguay or Bolivia on the way. I was wondering if anybody could tell me what the best guidebooks to use are when traveling in the above specified countries in South America. Also, if anyone could share unique places they visited in Brazil, Argentina, Bolivia and Paraguay, I would really appreciate it.
If you want to travel light, I'd recommend the Footprint South America Handbook. Worth the expense! Since you've only limited time, you best restrict your travels in Argentina and Bolivia to the north and the south of those countries, respectively; the Salár de Uyuni (BOL) is magnificent, and so is the whole northwestern corner of Argentina, esp. the Quebrada (Cafayate and surroundings). And of course there is my beloved Buenos Aires :-)
I used the lonely planet and found it to be very useful. I used it as a guideline and backup, and also as a telephone directory for guides, tour operators, hostels etc. I can safely say that I will be buying Lonely Planet again next time I travel!!
I enjoy the great writing of the Rough Guide, especially that on the north that was done by Andrew Benson. Speaking of the north, Salta is an incredible place, both the city and the stunning, diverse countryside surrounding it. Worthy of several weeks. This website may be useful.