While the world of travel has been put on pause for now, there’s nothing to stop you engaging in a bit of armchair travelling with us, before we can get back to exploring our wonderful planet again. We’ll be taking you to some of the world's most popular, surreal and magical destinations from across the globe, to give you that brief escape that we are all in need of.

So, sit back, relax and take in the world with us, all from the comfort of your own home.

As another busy year in travel draws to a close, we have taken a moment to look back and review 2019 at Erne Travel - and what a year it was! 2019 saw new faces, ‘excellent’ customer service, awards, fam trips across the globe and a whole lot of summer holidays!

You Rated us “Excellent” on Trustpilot!

Earlier this year we set up a Trustpilot account as a way for our returning guests to leave us honest feedback in a public domain that everyone could access.

 

We are very proud to be rated as “Excellent” on our Trustpilot account with a 4.7/5 TrustScore, reaffirming our status as Reassuringly Expert Travel People.

 

Erne Travel Reassuringly Expert Travel People

We improved our Travel Knowledge through Educational Trips

 Lisas African Adventure

 

Every year we make sure our travel staff are given the opportunity to improve their destination knowledge by going away on educational trips far and wide. Click on the links below to read some great educational trip reports our staff members have completed in 2019:

 

Lisa’s African Adventure

Olivia’s Bali Adventure

Lisa’s Costa Del Sol Weekend Break

We Went Competition Crazy!

We went a bit mad with our giveaways this year. Prizes included: a year’s supply of Haribo, Easter eggs, a 3 course Valentines dinner, Love2Shop Vouchers, A Belfast hotel stay for St. Paddy’s Day & A Belfast hotel stay to visit the Christmas markets.

 

Erne Competition Montage

Make sure you are following us Facebook and Instagram so you can enter our 2020 competitions!

Investors in People – Gold Level Achieved

investors in people gold

On 22nd October Erne Travel, as part of the Norad Travel Group, achieved Gold Level accreditation against the Investors in People Standard, demonstrating our commitment to realising the potential of our people.

 

As a top 40 travel company, our business is geared towards delivering an excellent and tailored service to all our customers, together with looking after our staff to maintain our high staff retention record. The Directors continually invest in both technology and our people to ensure we are able to live our values of excellent, integrity & innovation.

Summer Sun Holidays as Popular as Ever

Looking at all our bookings in 2019 we found that, out of 6 holiday type categories, Summer Sun holidays were the most popular. Destinations like Italy, Span, Greece & Portugal ranked highest as part of our Summer Sun category. Long Haul Holidays, to destinations such as USA & Australia was the second most popular category. Growing in popularity, we found that Cruise was our 3rd most popular holiday type category.

 

beach palm

 

We also found that September was the most popular month to travel in with the highest majority of our guests departing throughout the month of September.

January the month of new resolutions… & Travel Plans!

We checked our booking records once again to find that January was the most popular month for holiday bookings. As the new year begins and resolutions are made, our attention inevitably turns to holiday destinations and getting our next adventures booked in is the 1st thing on most peoples.

Make Holidays Greener

On World Environment Day (5th June) we signed up to and supported ABTA’s Make Holiday’s Greener Campaign. This year we encouraged our customers and staff to Reduce, Reuse and Recycle while on holiday through sharing ABTA’s campaign information.

 

Make Holidays Greener Campaign

 

Working in partnership with The CarbonNeutral Company, the UK's leading climate change company, we assist our corporate customers to offset carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions generated by their domestic and international travel by supporting renewable energy, energy efficiency and sustainable projects around the world.

 

We recycle all paper matter, cardboard and plastics and ensure these are taken away by specialists. We also supply every staff member with a reusable water bottle to discourage the use of single-use plastics in the work place.

You!

Last but certainly not least, we had the pleasure of organising holidays for thousands of loyal and new customers in 2019. Nothing makes us prouder than seeing all the great memories and adventures that have been created throughout the year, so thank you for trusting us with your holidays. We hope we can create more memories with you in 2020.

 

thank you map

 

Speak to the Erne Travel team about your 2020 holiday plans

Whenever and wherever you want to go, our knowledgeable and experienced team can help create the perfect trip. 

For inspiration, advice and to discuss your travel plans further, speak to our holiday experts at Howard Travel. 

T: 028 6632 4477 | E: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 

 

Join us on our Exclusive Small Group Tour to Borneo

Led by our very own Sarah Tichacek

 

After the success of our previous Norad led tours to Vietnam & India, Join Sarah on our exclusive and fully escorted Norad Travel 'Sights & Sounds of the Borneo Jungle' group tour, packed full of tailor-made wildlife and jungle experiences. From a once in lifetime Orangutan experience in Sandakan, to a traditional lunch cooked by Sukau villagers, this bespoke tour is certainly not one to miss.

Erne Travel is part of the Norad Travel Group

Key Details

£2,875 per person

- Departing 2nd October 2020

- Flights from London Heathrow

- 9 nights, exclusive and bespoke Norad guided tour

- Led by Norad Senior Manager, Sarah Tichecek

- Escorted by experienced local Borneo guide

- Packed full of tailor-made wildlife experiences

- Secure your place for just £350 Deposit

 

 Borneo Landscape | Sights & Sounds of Borneo | Erne Travel

 

Explore the amazing sights of Borneo

The exclusive tour will be led by Norad Travel Senior Manager, Sarah Tichacek and escorted by an experienced local Borneo guide. The Sights & Sounds of Borneo tour will depart on Friday 2nd October and return Monday 12th October, allowing you time to explore the very best Borneo has to offer.

Call our holiday expert and Norad tour leader, Sarah today to find out more on 01730 892298 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

 

Itinerary

Friday 2nd October:

Flight from London Heathrow to Kuala Lumpur. Overnight on-board flight. 

 

Day 1 - Saturday 3rd OctoberSandakan

Flight from Kuala Lumpur to Sandakan (13:25 arrival) 

- Private transfer from the airport to the hotel with lunch and dinner served at the hotel.

- Flying squirrel platforms to see these incredible animals 

- Accommodation: My Nature Resort

 

Borneo Landscape | Borneo Group Tour | Erne Travel

 

Day 2 - Sunday 4th October: Sandakan

- Labuk Bay Monkey Sanctuary

- Rainforest Discovery Centre 

- Return to resort for dinner

Accommodation: My Nature Resort

 

Labuk Bay Monkey Sanctuary | Borneo Group Tour | Howard Travel

 

 Day 3 - Monday 5th October: Sandakan

- Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre

- Tropical Lowland Dipterocarp Forest of Borneo

- Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre 

- Cruise up to the Lower Kinabatangan River Sanctuary

Accommodation: Abai Jungle Lodge, includes lunch and dinner

 

Sun Bear Conservation Centre | Borneo Group Tour | Howard Travel

 

Day 4 - Tuesday 6th October: Sukau

- River trip to Pitas Oxbow Lake to observe wildlife

- Breakfast at Abai Jungle Platform

- Lunch with the villagers at Abai Village which has been specially cooked by them

- River cruise to Sukau village

Accommodation: Kinabatangan Riverside Lodge 

 

Oxbox Lake River Trip | Borneo Group Tour | Erne Travel

 

Day 5 - Wednesday 7th October: Sukau

- River trip to experience the longest river of Sabah 

- Explore the Gomantong Bird nest caves on Sakau Lodge

- Transfer back to lodge and lunch at Sukau Villager's house or at Sukau Lodge

- Afternoon river cruise 

Accommodation: Kinabatangan Riverside Lodge

 

Gomantong bird nest caves | Borneo Group Tour | Howard Travel

 

Day 6 - Thursday 8th October: Sukau

- Transfer from the hotel to the airport

- After breakfast, a private transfer from the lodge to the airport

- Flight from Sandakan to Kota Kinabalu, includes private transfers

Accommodation: Shangri-La Tanjung Aru Resort & Spa, 3 nights bed & breakfast

 

Sukau | Borneo Group Tour | Howard Travel

 

Day 6,7,8 - Shangri-La Tanjung Aru Resort & Spa

With a private beach, views of the coral islands and just five minutes drive from the centre of Kota Kinabalu and ten minutes drive from the airport, Shangri-La’s Tanjung Aru offers luxury and relaxation in a great location.

Facilities include an infinity and lap pool, health club, CHI Spa, sauna, Jacuzzi, nine-hole golf course, tennis, bike hire, watersports and choice of bars and restaurants.

 

Shangri-La Tanjung Aru Resort & Spa | Borneo Group Tour | Howard Travel

 

Day 9 - Sunday 11th October

Flights from Kota Kinabalu to Kula Lumpur and then onwards to London Heathrow returning Monday 12th October

*Limited to 17 people with a minimum of 10 bookings required for the tour to go ahead.The above price is guaranteed subject to a minimum of 10 people in economy class. Priced at £2,875 per person based on a twin double room and economy flights, business class upgrades and extensions that can be quoted upon request. 

 

To find out more about the Sights and Sounds of Borneo Group Tour, speak to Norad Travel Senior Manager and travel expert Sarah Tichacek

T: 01730 892298 | E: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Advice for travellers before and after the Brexit deadline day on 31st October

Officially, the UK is due to leave the EU on 31st October 2019. Whether we leave with or without a deal is still yet to be confirmed and naturally holidaymakers and business travellers have questions about what Brexit will mean for travelling to EU countries. While the situation is evolving rapidly, ABTA has put together advice, answering common questions and explaining any steps travellers may need to take to avoid any unnecessary disruption due to a no-deal exit.

The Mastercard Global Destination Cities Index 2019 was released last week, ranking 200 cities based on how many international overnight visitors they're set to receive this year, based on actual 2019 monthly data and the weighted average of national-level tourism forecasts. We have listed the top 20 below for you, can you guess which city is number one?

Today (5th June 2019) is World Environment Day and the launch of ABTA's Make Holidays Greener Campaign. This year, Erne Travel - as part of the Norad Travel Group, are encouraging all our customers and staff to Reduce, Reuse and Recycle while on holiday.

Managing our carbon footprint here at Norad Travel is a core part of the company's CSR commitments. We are conscious about how we as a business can play an active role to reduce emissions and improve energy usage to ensure that we provide a continued safe and strong environment for our children and their children's children.

Working in partnership with The CarbonNeutral Company, the UK's leading climate change company, we assist our corporate customers to offset carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions generated by their domestic and international travel by supporting renewable energy, energy efficiency and sustainable projects around the world.

We recycle all paper matter, cardboard and plastics and ensure these are taken away by specialists. We also supply every Norad staff member with a reusable water bottle to discourage the use of single-use plastics in the work place.

Norad Conference 2017 AM 1 59

The theme for 2019's Make Holidays Greener campaign is Reduce, Reuse, Reycle

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle is not a new concept, but it is more relevant than ever. Where possible we should all reduce and reuse environmentally costly resources as much as possible before recycling. These resources include everything from plastic to food waste and building materials to water.

How can I get involved?

This year we are encouraging all our customers and staff to Reduce, Reuse and Recycle while on holiday. To get involved all you need to do is take a look at the infographic below and make a pledge to make a difference. Click here to make a pledge on the Make Holidays Greener website and enter a prize draw to win a carry-on bag by sustainability leaders Patagonia.

Share your actions and get involved to help to ensure that people, wildlife and landscapes in your favourite destinations benefit from tourism as much holidaymakers do.

Full infographic low res

Click here to download a high res version of the infographic

We are really looking forward to our staff training with Carrie from Intrepid Travel tomorrow (20/05/2019)! 

Carrie is Partnership Growth Manager for Intrepid Group and is based in their head office in London. We asked Carrie to give us a brief introudction into Intrepid Travel and what they do...

"We’re Intrepid Travel, the world’s largest provider of sustainable, experience-rich, small group tours and that’s why over 300,000 passengers trust us with their holidays each year. Offering more than 1,500 different itineraries in over 130 countries, we have a broad range of trip themes to suit  various interests as well as three distinct travel styles catering to all ages, tastes and budgets."

Keep an eye out on Facebook over the next couple of days for more news on our Intrepid staff training as well as some great group tour holiday offers!

Earlier this year, Erne Travel manager, Lisa McNulty, went on wild adventure to Africa with one of our trusted suppliers – African Pride. Here is Lisa’s travel diary from her six days exploring the African bush.

DAY 1 – Away We Go!

I met David from African Pride at London Heathrow Airport, along with some other travel agents ready for our group trip to Tanzania. We were all full of excitement for the adventure ahead.

We flew with Kenya Airways for the eight and a half-hour flight. The entertainment and food onboard was good, and kept me entertained for most of the journey, watching many recently released movies and TV shows. Once we arrived in Nairobi we had another one-hour flight to Kilimanjaro where we were introduced to our guide Mau, and vehicle for the rest of the trip.

Our Vehicle for the Week | Lisa's African Adventure | Erne Travel

Mau gave us a short introduction to his home country of Tanzania and explained that the country’s main industries include agriculture (roses, coffee, and cashew nuts), mining tanzanite, and tourism. There is population of 55 million people in Tanzania and 120 different tribes. We had a 45-minute drive to our first destination, Tarangire National Park, so it was great to learn more about Tanzania along the way!

Tarangire National Park | Lisa's African Adventure | Erne Travel

As we arrived into Tarangire National Park we got our first glimpse of wild Africa and had sightings of beautiful impala, ostrich, giraffe, elephant, and waterbuck. We had a BBQ lunch in the national park and then enjoyed another game drive along the way to Maramboi Camp where we were shown around the accommodation types and facilities.

Africa Animals Montage | Lisa's African Adventure | Erne Travel

Maramboi Camp is based outside the national park, but it is a very good standard tented lodge with permanent luxury tents. Situated on a palm tree populated plain close to Lake Manyara with magnificent views of the Rift Valley in the background, the camp features 44 suites with interconnected rooms, ideal for families with children. The camp has electricity from the main electric supplier, solar panels and a generator as a backup. They offer activities such as game drives in Tarangire National Park, guided nature walks, and use of the swimming pool.

The swimming pool was looking over the Rift Valley where the animals freely roamed. Drinks and meals are included. The lodges feature nice neutral colours with fantastic views in all. We then headed off to our night’s accommodation at Mbali Mbali Tarangire River Camp.

Mbali Mbali Tarangire River Camp is a tented accommodation and the camp was not fenced therefore you had to be escorted to and from your tent. If you needed to contact reception or had a problem, you had a whistle and a light beside your bed to attract attention! The tented accommodation gives an amazingly authentic safari feel to your stay and enables you to feel at one with the natural habitat which I really loved.

There was a fully equipped bathroom, hot water, and a toilet that flushed. The staff also set up mosquito nets over the beds at night.

Mbali Mbali River Camp | Lisa's African Adventure | Erne Travel

DAY 2 - Lake Manyara

We woke up for breakfast at 8am and left at 9am for our next destination, Lake Manyara, a two-hour journey away. We passed many local villages along the way and Mau explained that these villages in the area were able to thrive due to being in the catchment area of the water which flowed out from the forests.

We had another game drive through Lake Manyara in which we saw baboons, hippos, more elephants and flamingos to add to our ever-growing list.

Lake Manyara National Park is one of Tanzania’s smaller and most underrated parks. While it may lack the size and variety of other northern-circuit destinations, its vegetation is diverse - ranging from savannah to marsh to evergreen forest (11 ecosystems in all) and it supports one of the highest biomass densities of large mammals in the world. The chance to see elephant families moving through the forest or Lake Manyara's famous population of tree-climbing lions are alone reason enough to come!

Lake Manyara is located in the east and covers one-third of the park. The lake shrinks considerably in the dry season, but during the rainy season it hosts millions of flamingos and other bird life.

After our game drive through Lake Manyara we visited the Escarpment Luxury Lodge for lunch and a tour of the facilities. The lodge was beautiful and the most luxurious of all the properties we saw. All rooms are in stand-alone cottages, with king- and queen-sized beds, a walk-in shower, soaking tub, and wrap-around balcony with outdoor shower (we should consider here how precious a commodity water is in Africa!) The common areas were similarly spectacular with fantastic views of the valley from the pool and luxuriously furnished sitting area. This serene haven offers 16 luxurious chalets, with single, double or triple occupancy.

Lake Manyara National Park | Lisa's African Adventure | Erne Travel

We stayed overnight at Lake Manyara Wildlife Safari Camp in some tented lodges ready for our long journey to the Serengeti the following day.

Day 3 – En Route to the Serengeti

After a quick breakfast we headed off on our six-hour drive to the Serengeti. Along the way, we stopped off at the Ngorongoro Conservation Area. There is a viewpoint area with a built-in pavilion that offers majestic 180° views of the crater. Take binoculars to make the most of this amazing view!

Viewpoint at Ngorongoro Conservation Area | Lisa's African Adventure | Erne Travel

Six hours of bumpy dirt roads later we arrived in the Serengeti, famous for its beautiful green rolling open plains. The landscape can be seen for miles with huge stone boulders that are iconic as the look out spots of lions, and hundreds of beautiful gazelles peeping from the grass mounds to get a glimpse of what’s ahead.

Serengeti National Park | Lisa's Africa Adventure | Erne Travel

We were lucky enough to get our first sighting of a lion upon entry to the plains and a little later saw another lion resting next to her fresh zebra kill. We really felt immersed in the wildlife scenery, so much that a lioness strolled slowly past our vehicle without batting an eyelid at us!

Lions in Serengeti National Park | Lisa's African Adventure | Erne Travel

We carried on driving through the dirt paths, admiring the Serengeti with its mountains in the distance and scattered single acacia trees so clear to see in the distance. My favourite sighting so far was watching the wildebeest and zebra gather in their hoards around a watering hole. Zebra are so plentiful here you can see all the different stripe patterns on each. As we drove to our next stop we drove alongside the wildebeest in their single file marching along. This is nature in its truest form. Well worth the six-hour drive!

Serengeti National Park | Lisa's Africa Adventure | Erne Travel

We had lunch at Kati Kati which is a mobile camp in central Serengeti. The camp offers comfortable accommodation together with the unique opportunity to enjoy a real safari experience from the lodges.

We stayed overnight at Nimali Camp and were greeted into camp by such a warm welcome ? We had a little attack from pesky tseste flies, so we got sprayed down as soon as we arrived. The camp was very luxurious and the facilities were superb. Our tents for the night were extremely well finished off and all solar powered. You had great lighting, fans, a luxury bathroom with double sinks, very nice showers, and soft towels. Tea and coffee was delivered to the room on request, which is lovely if you want to watch the sunrise early. The evening meal was fantastic: I had soup and beef, and there was an excellent menu choice. The staff were very attentive to allergies. The food and wine was served very professionally, just like in a five-star hotel. Our breakfast was equally great with very good produce – eggs benedict was on the menu. Apparently, there were lions roaring throughout the night but the comfort of the beds and the activities from our first day in the Serengeti had me out like a lamp!

Nimali Camp Serengeti | Lisa's African Adventure | Erne Travel

Day 4 – Serengeti V2

As usual we started off the day with another stunning game drive and saw plenty of impala, water hogs, kestrels, vultures, and elegant ostriches in the distance. We also had our first sighting of hyenas this morning. The female hyena is dominant and strong and they are clever but ruthless hunters. During a kill, unlike other animals who try to kill the prey quickly, hyenas are known to cause animals a slow and painful death. They eat all parts of the animals including bones. Don’t mess with the hyenas!

Hyena | Serengeti National Park | Lisa's African Adventure

Although we had already seen some amazing wildlife, we had our eyes peeled for something greater - leopards and rhinos. The rhino is extremely rare due to poaching so the national park rangers try and keep their sightings private as they are in danger of becoming extinct.

We were lucky enough to catch another lion sighting as well as spotting a leopard in a tree and the most spectacular cheetah chase and kill! Cheetahs are active during the day and have a black tear drop look under their eyes; they are the fastest animal in the world but can only hold speed for a short space of time.

Cheetah | Serengeti National Park | Lisa's African Adventure

We had lunch at Kubu Kubu Tented Lodge and were greeted with a welcome glass of prosecco which always goes down well! We had a lovely lunch at the lodge next to stunning views and a great swimming pool. This is a good standard lodge with luxurious and large spacious tents.

The camp is located in Central Serengeti on the slopes of a hill with fantastic views and it is the ideal starting point to visit the Great Plains at any time of the year. The camp consists of 25 luxury tents with en-suite bathroom. Each tent is a built on a wooden platform. The main house caters with a terrace, restaurant, lounge and swimming pool.

Kubu Kubu Tented Lodge | Serengeti Lodge | Lisa's African Adventure | Erne Travel

We stayed overnight at Serengeti Sopa Lodge. This is an elevated lodge with great views from the rooms. This was the first hotel we had stayed in, and it felt a bit strange being disconnected from Africa’s wild side for once. There was lots happening at the hotel and seems it can get quite lively at night time. There are 73 rooms including adapted and interconnecting. The rooms included large beds and a large shower.

Day 5 – the Journey back to Ngorongoro

Another early start as we headed back to Ngorongoro Crater. It was another long drive, but it gave me lots of time to reflect on the beauty we have witnessed throughout our trip. As we descend into the crater, we are told it’s 100 square miles with very flat open ground so it’s very easy to spot the animals. The emerald green vegetation in the background mixed with the black and white stripes of the zebras make this truly beautiful. Mau had another surprise in store for us as we spotted mummy rhino and baby rhino stood still in the distance. Although rhinos are large and have a reputation for being tough, they’re a very solitary animal and are very easily poached. Humans are their only predator. We stop off at a hippo pool for a packed lunch, and here we could get out and stretch our legs down by the pool. This was a great opportunity to see the hippos close.

Journey back to Ngorongoro | Lisa's Africa Adventure | Erne Travel

We stayed overnight in Ngorongoro Sopa Lodge. The 97-room lodge is positioned on the eastern edge of the UNESCO Ngorongoro crater, with stunning views. This property had beautiful views, friendly staff and good rooms. We even had a hot water bottle ready and waiting when we got back to our room. Evening meal was a fairly limited choice. We had a beautiful view from our room and a great shower.

Day 6 – Farewell Africa

We had a five-hour journey to Arusha for our flight home, which was made quite fun with a famous name game David got us addicted to. We travelled with Kenya Airways to Nairobi which was a good 40 minute flight.

We arrived in Nairobi, purchased our visas and then headed to our Hotel, Hotel OLE Sereni, for our last night in Africa before our early flight home. This hotel was a very good standard four-star overlooking a national park in the city. From the bar area you could sit out and watch the animals. The rooms were excellent, and we were then surprised with an invite to dinner at the famous Carnivore restaurant. MEAT, MEAT AND MORE MEAT!!! Lol - but an experience nonetheless. This was an excellent finish to the trip as we had a comfortable hotel room, good shower, good beds, and a tasty breakfast.

Then sadly it was home time ☹ What can I say about Africa though? The most amazingly wild, authentic and beautiful place I have been! An African safari holiday certainly is a must-do and a once in a lifetime holiday that will leave you with countless memories and incredible photos to share on social media!

Having David from African Pride host the trip with his Africa and safari knowledge was first class, although I can’t say the same about his jokes! A HUGE THANK YOU to African Pride for the opportunity to go on such a magical trip.

Lisa's African Adventure | Erne Travel

Lisa’s Top African Safari Travel Tips:

When planning your trip to Tanzania – Keep an eye on the flight times as you will have to do a night in Nairobi. The airlines – Try to ensure you get Kenya Airways throughout as Precision air is a little basic.

Be prepared for long dirt roads which make for a rocky journey!

This type of itinerary can only be done with a guided driver, so it means it will be with a group or just a couple for more expense. You don’t hire your own vehicle or self-drive usually.

The days are very long due to the early game drives in order to see as much wildlife before the animals rest during the mid-day heat so bring note books, a safari animal book to help you spot species, binoculars and even WINE GUMS - because you need a little pick me up out in the bush every now and again.

Watch out for tsetse flies while out on bush drive. They look like big flies and have a painful bite!

Some of the accommodation is very much an authentic safari experience, meaning sleeping in a tent and no air-con. This is a fantastic experience and some of the lodges are nicer than hotel rooms!

Take some dollars with you for tips and maybe a little shopping.

Make sure to try and take as little luggage as possible and in soft bags as it easier to fit in vehicles and carry around.