Francesco "franz" Meriani Merlo was born in Trieste in 1972, his family originating from Istria and Dalmatia. After High School joins the University, where in 1988 graduates in Pharmacy, and later gets the PhD and a research grant. During this period (1996-2006) all his free time is dedicated to organize "adventure travels". In 1996, to make his activity more official, he opened "MOTOTURISMO!", a no-profit association, creating one of the first (or maybe the first) italian websites devoted to moto touring (in 1996 the web was a little less crowded than today...)
In the second half of the 90s, he starts focusing stronger on travels, opening the Association Istrialand.eu, specialized in the Balkans tourism. In 2007 Franz leaves his work in the scientific world to move definitely to adventure tourism business. So the Association turns into an Agency, named Camelus Adventures, owned by him. Camelus has two branches: istrialand.eu for the Balkans, and tunisialternativa.it for the tunisian Sahara desert.
In 2003 starts travelling off road in North Africa (Tunisia, Marocco, Mauritania), but his "love" is Tunisia, to where he traveled more than 40 times from 2005 to 2017, and where he keeps on going, organizing enduro, 4x4, trekking, photo travels and more... You can follow these activities on the website of Tunisia Alternativa.
In 2013, together with Antonela Gardos, opens the B&B "Al Merlo Olivo" (top rated on TripAdvisor and booking.com) in Istria, that suddenly becomes a pivot pint for bikers and off road enthusiasts , mainy from Italy, but not only (Italians are the main clients, due to geographical reasons of proximity).
In 2015 the off road activity in Istria improves with the acquisition of three enduro bikes (to rent) that are put beside his BMW R 80 GS and the 3 Land Rover Defender 110 Tdi300 used for the off road expeditions in Tunisia and the Balkans.
In 2016 two very important cooperation take places, Camelus is engaged by Andrea Leggieri e Dino Mazzini as technical / logistics partner for the creation of their event "TT Balkan" and by the ex-pilot and Paris-Dakar champion Alessandro "Ciro" de Petri to engineer and manage some off road tours for him and his clients in Croatia and Bosnia Erzegovina.
Antonela was born Yugoslavia in 1973. Her childhood was rather hard (during Tito's period the economy was not at its best in these zones) living alone with her father, working in agriculture. Since she was a young girl she had to learn by herself houskeeping, cooking and managing the farm animals. Nevertheless, she got the high school graduation in 1991, just before Yugoslavia started dissolving into the single Republics that we know today. Her family was renowed for making some of the best istrian raw-ham of the zone (just 4-8 pieces/year) and good wine.
At the beginning of 2000s she and Franz married, and in this way she gave to Istrialand / Camelus travels a very genuine and deep local knowledge (languages, traditions and so on...), a kind of knowledge that Franz cannot have, being an italian born in Italy.
This exclusive mix of roots and cultures gives Istraland / Camelus travels (here included the 6 Nations Raid) a special note, because in this way the Agency is not anymore a "foreign" Agency that proposes the Balkans, but on the opposite it is something that "belonges" to the Balkan, and this will allow you to live and discover this place in the most direct and original way.
The passion for cultures and knowledge brings Antonela to North Africa and Tunisia too, where she accomplished over 40 expeditions, from 2003 to 2017. Or course we are not going to count how many trips she made in the Balkans. In the 2010s, having finished her studies and practics in tourism management, Antonela became the Technical Director of Camelus tour operator.
Boris was born in 1977 in (former) Jugoslavija, his parents from Croatia and Bosna Hercegovina. He grows up in Istria, studying and always loving to travel. Being western Balkans his "home", he tries to travel away, and this "away" for him means the far East.
Boris makes several trips in Tibet and Thailandia. In these adventures - surely not touristics - he frequents various Buddhist monasteries, where he practices meditation and martial arts.
In 2013 joins Camelus Adventures, as guide and interpreter. Starts with the one-day 4WD local tours in Istria, that the Agency runs for the tourists in the Hotels on the coast.
Soon, because of his great skills, he joins the more challenging raids, as driver / tour leader on the Land Rover Defender 110.
Hanne, our record-girl: the GS girl that came from more far away (Norway) and that did the 6 Nations not one but two times... should we say more? Ok there is so much more to say, so here is some bio:
Born and raised in Norway. Graduated in law in 1995, first prosecutor then private lawyer, living in Kristiansand in south Norway.
Also scuba diver instructor.... and ex National Judo team.
In addition to Norwegian, she speaks english, and some french and german.