How to export your motorcycle from South Africa

It will be easy right? I can ride my bike down to Cape Town South Africa and export it from there to South America? The two are close enough. How hard can it be? Not as easy as we thought!

BMW, F800GS, adventure, motorcycle, travel, documentary, orange, doctors, charity

young and naive…

Recently we decided to export our two BMW motorcycles from South Africa to Buenos Aires Argentina to start the trip of a lifetime. After months of planning this process never became any less confusing or daunting. This is what I learned:

  1. Do plenty of research – stating the obvious, but it can take a long time and you don’t want to add that into the total time you spend waiting to transport. I found that most of what is out there is written in general and often doesn’t apply to South Africa – some good advice can be found on Horizons Unlimited.

    BMW, F800GS, South Africa, motorcycle, adventure, travel, crating, transport

    much less naive

  2. Decide how you will be transporting the bikes
    • By plane is faster, but more expensive and as of January 2014 there are no more flights flying directly to Buenos Aires from South Africa. However, the costs in Buenos Aires are much less if you send by air. All flights fly through Brazil first.
    • By Ship can take anything from 14 days to 3 months from SA. It is the cheaper option, but you run the risk of waiting a long time for your bike in Argentina and the port costs in Buenos Aires are hugely expensive. This brings the total cost up to almost the equivalent of a flight.
    • The bikes must be transported in separate crates with separate paperwork. This is because customs in Argentina will not recognise two bikes in one crate without adding exponentially to your costs.
  3. Get the dimensions of your cargo – if you will be crating get the crate dimensions and bike weight- you will need these for the quotes. There are innumerable crating companies in SA, but you can also get crates from the motorcycle dealers ( the ones their bikes were delivered in). Note that some dealers charge for the crates, and unless you are desperate, try somewhere else, as most dealers will give them away for free. Let the dealer know ahead of time, as they usually dispose of the crates same day as delivery.
  4. Find a freight agent – In South Africa you are not allowed to book your cargo/dangerous goods directly onto a flight or ship. You will need to do this through a freight/forwarding company. There are plenty and most are very helpfull, however their quotes can vary significantly. So Google as many as you can and ask them all for a quote. They ranged from R85 000 (about $8000) to R12 000 (shipping over 3 months)
    • Melanie van der Westhuizen at Rollex – I highly recommend. The quote was one of the best we received for airfreight. melanie@rollex.co.za / +27 (011) 571 9722
    • Vino Ruthman at Aviocean, Natal – was exceptionally helpful and got us the best quote. vino@avioceannatal.co.za / +27 (031) 465 5906
    • African Overlanders – Duncan – highly recommended with the most experience and great advice. He also has the right connections in Buenos Aires. You can camp on his grounds in Cape Town while sorting out your freight. He can get you great prices on shipping if there are enough bikes/cars to transport across.    www.africanoverlanders.com /africanoverlanders@live.com

      crating, freight, airfreight, transport, flight, adventure, motorcycle, travel, BMW, South Africa

      We are learning…

  5. Pick your quote and a date for freight
  6. Check that all your engine numbers, VIN numbers, and license plates match the numbers on the ownership documents.
  7. Get police clearance in South Africa – I am not sure about imported bikes, but local bikes need to be microdotted and cleared by the police. The process can take a whole day and is only done by a few police stations. In Johannesburg the police station is situated in Langlaagte. The clearance happens from 7am to 11 am weekdays, and the microdotting must be done prior. There is a dealer that does the dotting from 6am across the street from the police station.
  8. Ensure you know how you will be getting the bikes and crates to their destinations. Some NB info to ask:
    • To what address must the bikes be delivered
    • Can we crate them there (at the warehouse) or do they need to be pre-crated
    • Let them know if you will be adding luggage/panniers/tyres to the crate
    • Ensure you emphasize the need for a Master Airway Bills (MAWB) for EACH bike in the name of the owners- to avoid complications in Buenos Aires
    • How many days prior to flight do they need to be delivered to the freighting company
    • What modifications need to be done to the bikes? Most will require the fuel tank to be drained and battery disconnected with taped up terminals – no one generally worries about the oil, just keep it hush hush.
    • Will the company handle all the paperwork for you for customs clearance, and what exactly do they need (usually your owner registration papers and passport)
    • Will they provide insurance on the value of the bikes for the trip?
  9. Book your flights or your own transport for directly after the bikes have left – it is generally good advice not to leave the country before your bike does, but also remember that the storage costs in Buenos Aires are expensive for each day the bikes wait for you.
  10. Contact the freight company in Buenos Aires or other port of arrival – find out what paperwork they need (usually the MAWB, ownership documents and passport copies). Your bike can also not leave the port without 3rd party insurance, so find out if your agent can organise it for you.
    • For all transport into Buenos Aires I highly recommend: Dakarmotos: Javier and Sandra. They run a small workshop from their home in Buenos Aires and are the local experts on motorcycle importation. They know the important people in customs, and what needs to be done at what time. They will also organise your insurance, and track the bikes until their arrival in BA. The costs for air importation is less than that for shipping, This is because the shipping consists of 3 days of customs clearance, whereas the airfreight can be cleared in one day. You can also sleep on their premises for a small fee.
    • Their details: dakarmotos@hotmail.com / +54 11 4730 0586 / www.dakarmotos.com
  11. Pack all your crap and get the hell on the road!

    customs clearance, arrival, buenos aires

    customs clearance in Buenos Aires

Some extra advice:

  • Consider importing your bikes to Montevideo, Uruguy. There is tonnes of bureaucracy and corruption with importation to Brazil or Argentina, and many people are now taking the Montevideo option. I don’t have connections to recommend there unfortunately.
  • Relax…the process will take a few days/weeks, there are usually unforeseen strikes, important cargo which takes precedence over your bike, or myriad other customs problems.
  • It is advised that you own the motorcycle, but if not ensure that you get a letter from the owner with permission for you to export the bike.
  • Make copies off all your documents and highlight the VIN numbers on the ownership documents.
  • There has been advice to make realistic copies of your drivers licence – many cops in South America will confiscate your drivers and you will have to pay a bribe to get it back.
  • We have loaded copies of everything onto Dropbox, so we can access our vital info from anywhere in the world and don’t have to bug family.
  • Leave copies of your ID with a family member and sign written permission for them to do things such as update your license, renew your drivers etc. Therefore if you loose any of these there is a family member who can legally get you a new one.
  • It is also good advice to give a family member you trust power of attorney – so banking etc can be done when you are not able.

Paperwork generally required:

  1. Passports
  2. Visa’s
  3. Ownership documents on the vehicles in your own name or with a letter from the owner
  4. Police clearance certificate – for which you will need a microdotting certificate
  5. MAWB in the name of the owner for each bike
  6. International drivers
  7. Drivers license
  8. Vaccination certificate for Yellow fever (we will write a post later on vaccines)
  9. Up-to-date motor-vehicle license (Paste the original under the motorcycle seat and put a copy into the disc holder. This is because these holders regularly fall off, and then you won’t loose the original.)

Dangerous Goods vs non-dangerous goods

Most of the time motorcycles are considered dangerous goods, and the costs of transporting them triples just on that fact. This is due to fuel, electrical systems and batteries that may spark. For airfreight, almost all companies send them as dangerous goods. We have experience with one company that sent them as non-dangerous goods for a lower price, but this required certificates from the motorcycle dealer certifying that the fuel had been drained, the engine flushed and the batteries disconnected at no risk of sparking. It is therefore possible, but has to be OK’d by the airline. Shipping is cheaper because often the bikes can be sent as non-dangerous goods, however this is currently being reviewed and many policies are changing.

I hope this post will assist adventurers using this popular route and make the process a little less confusing. Good luck and travel safe!

~Megs

Argentina, Buenos Aires, adventure, motorcycle, travel, leaving, graffiti, street, BMW, F800GS, F800, touratech, ATG, all terrain gear, Canon,

finally ready to go!

Buenos Aires to Azul – Part 1 of the Great American Trek

So what have Meg and I being doing apart from eating Bon-o-bons and stealing free sugar from coffee shops? Well I’m going to try and tell you, but it might take a while, so I am going to do it in parts, a ‘ride-report’ if you will. Hold tight people.T

he trip had a frantic start, and you really have to pinch yourself to appreciate where you are, what you’re doing and to take in the memories, its way to easy to get caught up in the rush and excitement. This was made even more difficult by the fact that our flight to Buenos Aires was leaving in an hour and we still had to pack all of our extra kit and tyres into the bike crates at a cargo company so they could be sealed in time for their flight out. This is particularly ironic, because as most of you know we then had to wait two full weeks in Buenos Aires before the bikes even left South Africa.

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Looking sharp in our ‘safe-to-be-seen’ jackets

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Stuffing some of our goodies in the bike crates

After a hair-raising taxi ride to the hostel, we spend two weeks, vegetating, sight seeing, buying rubbish and generally becoming fat and broke. The upside to this was meeting some fantastic people, all on their own journeys and all in different places in their lives. If you guys are reading this- it was a real pleasure, it felt like a little family of misfits who all shared the difficulty of finally leaving BA, we had a jol.

One person I must mention in particular, is Dan. Both because he is doing a similar, although much more amazing, journey than ours, and because our paths cross again later on the trip. Dan is cycling around the world, he one of those very rare creatures that motorcycle overlanders will come across once every blue moon, seeing them on the road is much like seeing a unicorn, strange creatures, and very rare. God only knows what would possess you to do something that mad. You can check out Dan’s journey >HERE<. He is a great guy, and he is going to do and see some really cool stuff – you should definitely be following his trip!

Cycleearth, cycle, bicycle, traveller, overland, crazy

Dan the unicorn – see, he’s funny!

I will eventually get around to writing a post on the things to do in BA… I promise, but here are some of the best parts:

Recoleta Cemetary:

Absolutely amazing, old, beautiful graves and tombs, beautiful sculptures, and MASSIVE. If you are going to BA you have to go to the cemetery, we loved it.

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Cafe in Recoleta, every weekend there is a big market on the square near the cemetery

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Recoleta, cementario, cemetery, grave, big, beautiful, sculpture, argentina, buenos Aires, graves, tombs, travel, tourist, tourism

Argentina, Buenos Aires, Recoleta, grave, tomb, derelict, beautiful, decay, GoPro, Canon

Derelict grave in Recoleta

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Some beautiful sculpture

Argentina, grave, statue, tomb, cemetery, Buenos Aires, Recoleta, beautiful, sculpture

Some beautiful statues – what do I have to do to get a headstone like that?

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Here lies a badass…

Grave, tomb, ivy, overgrown, beautiful, awesome, old, monument, Argentina, South America, Recoleta, cementario, cemetery

Not too shabby eh Nige…?

Recoleta, cementario, cemetery, grave, big, beautiful, sculpture, argentina, buenos Aires, graves, tombs, travel, tourist, tourism, derelict, empty, rusted

From the most pristine, well-kept tombs, to the most derelict, they are all astounding to see

GoPro, cemetery, canon, gopole, grave, selfie, tomb, cemetery, argentina, buenos aires, recoleta, travel, backpacking

GoPro – never be without it!

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Meg looking like a boss – like a REAL photyographer

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Sculpture EVERYWHERE

Angel, angels, cemetery, buenos aires, sky, gopro, hero 3+, Statue, sculpture

Yup – it was an awesome day

Recoleta, cementario, cemetery, grave, big, beautiful, sculpture, argentina, buenos Aires, graves, tombs, travel, tourist, tourism, window, stained glass, crucifix, jesus, catholic

Inside, there are also some amazing things to see, with some great stained glass

Recoleta, cementario, cemetery, grave, big, beautiful, sculpture, argentina, buenos Aires, graves, tombs, travel, tourist, tourism

corridors and corridors of tombs and graves

Recoleta, cementario, cemetery, grave, big, beautiful, sculpture, argentina, buenos Aires, graves, tombs, travel, tourist, tourism, web, lock, spiderweb

Some havnt been visited in a LONG time

Palermo parks and Japanese Gardens:

Also beautiful, spent a peaceful day with Meg, taking photos, playing with ducks and picnicking. The parks apparently also turn into a red-light district at night,  there’s some duality for you!

Buenos Aires, Palermo, Japanese GARDENS, beautiful, Canon 7D, travel, backpacking

The Japanese Gardens in Palermo

Buenos Aires, Palermo, Japanese GARDENS, beautiful, Canon 7D, travel, backpacking

Japanese Gardens in Palermo

Buenos Aires, Palermo, Japanese GARDENS, beautiful, Canon 7D, travel, backpacking

Bizarre to see in the middle of cosmopolitan Buenos Aires

Buenos Aires, Palermo, Japanese GARDENS, beautiful, Canon 7D, travel, backpacking

Some beautiful photos to be had, everything is really well-tended to

Ducks, rude, violent, unfriendly, racist, attack, fight

Some ducks are just rude and racist to other ducks – bullies

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A Japanese bridge, as you might have guessed, in Argentina

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Look at this chick – what a belter

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Schoolkids, they all wear lab-coats in Argentina for God-knows what reason

Buenos Aires, Palermo, Japanese GARDENS, beautiful, Canon 7D, travel, backpacking, waterfall

And a waterfall

Buenos Aires, Palermo, Japanese GARDENS, beautiful, Canon 7D, travel, backpacking, bridge, GoPro, selfie

GoPro – Our weapon of choice

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Pato pato pato

Buenos Aires, Palermo, Japanese GARDENS, beautiful, Canon 7D, travel, backpacking, GoPro, GoPole

GoPro

Fuerza Bruta

Gobsmacking, flabbergasting, mind-blowing. What the hell just happened to me and what did I see!? Its really difficult to explain this one, a show with everything from a mans journey through life on a giant treadmill, to a massive ,transparent, moving swimming pool suspended inches above your face, filled with pretty girls, to people ripping a house apart and the whole crowd being encapsulated in one big, confetti-filled jumping castle. MADNESS. Check more out >HERE<

Fuerza Bruta, Buenos Aires, Argentina, show, interactive, drumming

Epic

Fuerza Bruta, Buenos Aires, Argentina, treadmill, obstacles, show, interactive

The crazy treadmill

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The dream / nightmare

Fuerza Bruta, Buenos Aires, Argentina, show, interactive, swimming pool, suspended, floating, girls

The swimming pool in the sky, on its way down

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Dancing with a puddle, making patterns with the water as it follows her around above you

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Having a moment with one of the swimming girls

Fuerza Bruta, tent, air, fans, inflatable, inflate, show, interactive

Stealing a crowd member inside the giant jumping caste / air tent

Fuerza Bruta, group, photo, after, show, interactive, party, jol

After the show – Stoked!

San Telmo market

You THINK you’ve been to a flea-market. You haven’t been to a flea market. Everything under the sun is available at this market, and it takes an entire day to traverse, its so big we actually had to call it quits and duck out at a stage.

Argentina, Buenos Aires, San Telmo, square, girl

Meg in San Telmo square

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Some great street-art in Buenos Aires, there’s tons of it!

San Telmo, Buenos Aires, Argentina, market, street

The San Telmo market – it just goes on… and on… and on…

Argentina, Buenos Aires, San Telmo, market, street, people

and on… and on… and on…

Argentina, buenos aires, San Telmo, architechture, beautiful, old, building, balcony, city

It’s a beautiful city

As a side-note: Boca is billed as a major tourist attraction. Don’t go. It’s complete rubbish. Fake, touristy, and boring. You will feel like you are being scammed out of every last penny, and that’s because you are.

Argentina, Buenos Aires, Boca

Boca

Argentina, Buenos Aires, Boca

More Boca

Argentina, Buenos Aires, Boca

And more Boca

Argentina, Buenos Aires, Boca

Well this was awesome at least – Meg and Natalie doing a tango – for real

So we met some people, and saw some sights, same as everybody else – big yawn. But then the bikes arrived.

Getting our bikes was made possible by the help of Vino Ruthnum at Aviocean Natal, and the famed Dakar Motos, run by Sandra and Javier -we were very lucky to have the help, friendship and advice of such great people, we owe you so much. After lots of excitement and interesting train rides we arrived at the airport, where, with the help of Sandra we opened the crates to see our two beautiful BMW F800GS’s.

BMW, F800GS, Touratech, Customs, Argentina, Buenos Aires, motorcycle, adventure, travel, cargo, transport, freight

Up and running, just about

After the initial awe we realised: how the hell do we get the front wheels back on!? Not HOW do I put on a front wheel, I mean I’m not an idiot, but how do I get the bike into a position to put the wheel back on. With nothing to prop under the bash plate, and with a big piece of wood behind the rear wheel, getting it onto a center stand was going to be problematic, and getting it onto the side-stand near impossible, as the crating slats were in the way. A logistical nightmare was averted when I thought to myself: ‘Its a GS… this bike is built like a tank, I’ve put this bike on its side more times than I can count’. So that’s exactly what I did, tipped the bike over onto the floor and got to work. Within minutes we had two fully assembled, ready for action machines. After signing some paperwork and getting shamelessly hit on by the girl behind the customs desk we hit the road.

And man did we fight… big stress, other side of the road, Spanish street signs, unfamiliar equipment, crazy drivers, not knowing what to say, malfunctioning GPS. Its a miracle the trip didn’t end in a divorce before we got back to the hostel. But we got back, body, soul and marriage intact.

This was mirrored the next day on take-off too. The bikes were so grossly overpacked we looked like we were moving house, and seconds before the ignition key was turned, the GPS decided to die. So after a good deal of frantic cursing, and stealing wifi to download a map on my phone, we were able to leave, my phone and it’s Lifeproof mount saving the day. But wait! That’s not all! We rode down the road, and on hitting Ave. 9 De Julio, both the widest, and longest avenue in the world, Megan smelt burning plastic. Shit. Her newly-mounted tool tube had melted from being to close to the exhaust. After some roadside repairs, we were finally moving.

Argentina, Buenos Aires, Adventure, motorcycle, travel, overland, overlander, packing, bikes, BMW, F800GS, ATG, All terrain gear, Touratech

Packing the bikes for the first time

Argentina, Buenos Aires, adventure, motorcycle, travel, leaving, graffiti, street, BMW, F800GS, F800, touratech, ATG, all terrain gear, Canon,

Packed and ready to go!

Buenos Aires, Argentina, South America, motorcycle, adventure, travel, city, riding, bikes, BMW F800GS, Lifeproof, iphone mount, handlebar mount, GoPro, Sena

Do you smell burning plastic?

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Fixing the tool tube in the traffic

BMW, F800GS, Motorrad, Lifeproof, GoPro, Sena, Touratech, ATG, All terrain gear

Finally on the road

The view of Buenos Aires disappearing in the mirrors was a thing of beauty, the buildings got smaller, the landscape got greener, the traffic got less and as we got further out of the city, we got happier. With growing smiles we realised that we were finally doing it – we had thrown off the shackles of BA and we had the open road ahead of us. With our first petrol stop we were all smiles and in high spirits. We were heading to a town called Azul, to a place called La Posta del Viajero en Moto to meet a man named Jorge. The contact had been given to us by Javier at Dakar Motos, we knew absolutely nothing about La Posta, and we were in for a treat, the best way to start a motorcycle journey, the trip had finally started and our world was changing, a new chapter was starting.

Ill be an arsehole and just leave it here for now, but I’ll post part two ASAP – watch this space! (more actual BIKING to follow)

~Poodle

 

Review: Milhouse Hostel, Buenos Aires

Review of Milhouse Hostel Buenos Aires:

(Hipolito)

 

Price: (US$)

  • Dorm: $17
  • Double room: $50

Facilities:

  • Dorms of 4, 8, , and 12 beds
  • Double rooms
  • All beds comewith a locker for all your baggage (physical not emotional)
  • Clean, well kept bathrooms
  • Common room with bar, computers, pool table and TV
  • Free Wifi and computers with internet
  • Breakfast included (Cereal, toast with jam & dulce d’ leche, juice concentrate, coffee and occassionally cut up fruit)
  • Courtyard in the middle of the building for smokers or those who want to be ‘outside’ for a while.
  • Kitchen with hot food for sale during the day, including cooked breakfast
  • Kitchen with fridge and stove for preparing your own food (no oven)
  • Washing service $4.72 per load
  • Free labelled maps of the city with staff to help you out with advice
  • Free Tango lesson once a week
  • Range of organised walking tours, bicycle tours, cooking evenings etc. all for a price according to a weekly and daily schedule
  • Hostel internatioal discount
  • NB: You will not be allowed to bring in outside booze. The booze from the bar is also, quite frankly, overpriced at $3.50 a can of beer. A six-pack of 500ml bottles from the supermarket 2 blocks away will costs roughly $7.50.
Argentina, Buenos Aires, Hostel, Backpackers, Wifi, computers, internet, good, TV

The computers and TV area at Milhouse Hipolito

 

Our experience:

Milhouse is a very popular, clean and very organised hostel built in an old 1890s house. Now with another Milhouse open ±2 blocks away to deal with this popularity, as well as a branch in Cusco, Peru. It’s a busy, and bustling hostel with plenty on offer when it comes to organised tours, lessons, and parties. It is centrally situated, with most of the city easy to reach on foot.

The important thing to remember is that Milhouse is the ‘Party Hostel’ of Buenos Aires. Every night, one of it’s hostels becomes filled to the brim with a massive party, the party is then moved out to a club at around 03h00, with transport organised by the hostel. For those of you who have never been to BA before, this is when the clubs open. Mind. Blown.

Milhouse has a great vibe, and is run like a well-oiled machine, but if you’re not careful, you can end up spending a lot of money here. Milhouse is designed to show you as much of BA as possible while partying your arse off with minimal effort on your part. It is not however planning to save you any money in the process, so depending the location and depth of your silver spoon, take this as you will.

milhouse packpackers, staircase

The Milhouse staircase

 

How long should you stay?

  • We were there for two weeks, and it felt like too long. I would recommend a maximum of about 10 days and a minimum of four. Buenos Aires is a huge place, with lots to see, you will struggle to get everything in, even in two weeks. If you want to stay for this long I would recommend changing it up a bit with regards to hostels to keep things fresh. Because the same breakfast every morning and the same daily and nightly routine can become a bit tedious after a while.

    Milhouse, hostel, Bar, restaurant, tables, work, internet

    Us doing some work in the common room, nice place to do this, plugs and wifi readily available

Pros:

  • Internet connectivity
  • Clean
  • Organised
  • Great rooms
  • Beautiful building
  • Free breakfast
  • Central loction
  • Helpful, friendly staff
  • Nice lockers for your valubles
  • Loud porno cinema next door provides a very entertaining soundtrack to your shower, and a great topic of conversation
  • Rad parties with your bed in the same building

Cons:

  • Too many people can make the experience impersonal at times
  • No outside booze, with expensive inside booze
  • Too many rules (but can completely see why these are necessary). The booze thing, strict checkout times, cant leave baggage in the reception while you wait for transport, etc etc
  • One big gripe is that the kitchen closes and gets locked at 22h00, with all your food inside, as no food is allowed in the hostel other than the kitchen. This makes things very difficult, a really unneccessary rule
  • The bar is completely closed on non-party nights, meaning no booze allowed inside and no booze can be bought at the bar, which means no booze in the hostel at all, which means a very dreary bunch of people. This has to be changed.
  • Very few windows and outside areas, some rooms have big windows and a balcony, some have no or very few, tiny windows. The common room, reception and bar has no windows
  • Don’t have the rooftop barbeque, we did, we went to the barbeque and were just handed a plate of very average food to eat in the common room. Apparently there was construction going on on the roof, so we coudnt barbecue up there, but no one let us know. Not a BBQ and not cool!
  • Rad parties with your bed in the same building – the reasons for this being a con is not only some noise during the wee hours, which is actually really not that bad, but more for the fact that all this partying at different nights for different people can make rooming together in a dorm a bit difficult. There is always at least one person sleeping at all times due to the weird hours, so it is rare to be able to talk at normal volume in your room or possibly to ever see it in the light of day

 

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The free tango lessons at Milhouse – great fun!

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Mad skills! – Natalie and Bruno getting serious

Conclusion:

Milhouse is not a good hostel, it’s a great hostel. And if you are keen for a few big nights, this is the place to visit. The only drawback is the no outside booze rule amongst other rules. And while I understand this is bound to happen with increased size and popularity, it makes for a bit of a clinical, unpersonalised experience. When I travel I prefer the quirkier, family run, and organic places with a bit of soul and personality, and generally try to avoid the generic, Hostel International like the plague. They have become ‘The Man’. But different strokes and all of that I suppose. Milhouse: Please don’t loose your soul and become another Hostel international, I beg you,!

Go and visit Milhouse, you will party your arse off and meet great people in comfort, you wont be sorry, it’s a great place.

 

Time of review: September / October 2014

 

Address:

Hipolito Yrigoyen 959

Buenos Aires

 

Link:

Milhouse Hostel

 

Tel:

+541143459604

 

~Poodle

(Some of the images on this post were taken from the Milhouse website, they link back to it, and I am in no way trying to claim these as my own)

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