When you picture Sri Lanka, you may imagine endless golden beaches. I certainly did before I visited, but the country has so much more to offer, including everyone’s favourite hill-country, Ella. I visited Ella with my boyfriend, Mike, in August during my 5-week period in Sri Lanka (read how I spent my 5 weeks here). We stayed in Ella for 4 days which we found a plentiful amount of time to do everything we wanted to do, though we could have happily stayed longer in the chilled out town.
Hiking in Ella
One thing I love to do when visiting new countries is hike; I’m definitely a nature lover so Ella was the ideal place to visit for me. Out of everywhere we visited in Sri Lanka, Ella had my favourite hikes. We completed three overall in our short time there and two of these were in one day!
Nine Arch Bridge
The simplest and shortest of the three hikes we completed. Each morning, a colourful train slithers over the mighty nine-arch bridge. We could walk over the bridge along the track before it arrived and the train can be viewed from the side. We chose to watch it away from everyone else from a view point 5 minutes away from the bridge.
How to get there: from Ella Flower Garden Resort take the road opposite and turn left up the tea plantation. Follow the path through and over fallen pine trees and eventually the bridge will come into view. It takes around 15-20 minutes to get there.
The longest of our hikes in Ella but the most challenging always seem to be the most beautiful. We crazily chose to start walking at the hottest time of the day, I would not recommend this. Although the hike was nowhere near as challenging as our trek in the Knuckles Mountain Range, the heat made it exhausting. One advantage of going at the hottest time of the day though, is that there were very few people at the top. We had the rock to ourselves for most of the time. The 360 degree views speak for themselves. Overall this hike takes around 4 hours.
How to get there: from Ella station or the Nine Arch Bridge walk beside the railway track towards Banduraella. Soon after you approach the next station from Ella there is an inconspicuous turn off to the left. Follow this, walk over the waterfall and climb tea plantations to the left. The path should be fairly simple to follow from here. Most information we read recommended having a guide. We decided against this as we wanted to try it for ourselves.
Little Adam’s Peak
This was probably my favourite hike in Ella. The views at the top were simply breathtaking. It was a fairly simple trail with paths and steps to follow the whole way. On the way you can observe tea pickers plucking leaves in the tea plantations and from the top you can see Ella Rock. Unfortunately we did notice a poor baby monkey with a chain around its neck ready for tourist photos. Please don’t contribute towards this trade. I felt so sorry for the monkey as it tried to escape up a tree. It was most probably snapped away from its mother in the wild.
How to get there: the path starts just after Ella Flower Garden Resort. Climb up the path and look out for signs pointing the way to Adam’s Peak. One way takes around 45 minutes.
On all the hikes in Ella you are likely to spot tea plantations along the way, all displaying beautiful views. We visited two factories whilst there: one black tea and one green tea factory so we could compare. To visit both factories in one morning we paid 2,200LKR (around £11) for a tuktuk.
Demodera Estate Tea Centre
This is a factory making black tea. We paid 700LKR altogether for a tour. We saw the tea freshly picked enter the building and each step along the way of the tea plants picked yesterday. Unfortunately, photos inside the factory weren’t allowed The tour took around 20 minutes and then our driver drove us to the shop where Mike bought lose leaves for his mum. We didn’t get to taste any of the tea here but that was fine for mike and I as we both prefer green tea.
Newburgh Green Tea Factory
This factory is a lot closer to Ella, very near Adam’s Peak. Here we were given shoe overalls and hair nets. At one point we were even given a face mask. Here we noticed that the tea was dried and produced on the day it was picked and each part of the leaf is used (whereas there is quite a lot of wastage with black tea). We got to try the tea here and ended up each buying a pack of lose leaves.
There are many waterfalls to enjoy around Ella, unsurprisingly as it’s surrounded by the mountains.
The main waterfall to see in Ella is Rawana Falls. This can actually be viewed from Adam’s Peak too and isn’t too far from Ella Rock. We took a tuktuk there and back costing 600LKR (around £3) each way. We made the mistake on visiting on a Sunday when it was very busy with locals, it’s much quieter during the week. It’s also possible to visit this waterfall on your way to your next destination from Ella as it’s en route.
Ella Rock Route
On the way to Ella Rock you will walk over a waterfall. It’s very near the beginning of the walk beside the train track. This one isn’t as exciting to see as Rawana Falls but it’s a waterfall nonetheless. You will see the locals laying their colourful clothes to dry across the waterfall. I’ve tried to search for the name of this waterfall but didn’t have any luck so please let me know if you’re aware.
Train from Kandy to Ella
Through our train ride along the most scenic journey in the world we saw waterfall after waterfall which is no surprise as we were travelling through a national park at one point. Some of the waterfalls were crashing down cliffs in the distance and at some points during the journey we actually rode over waterfalls. Read more about the most scenic journey in the world here.
Have you visited Ella or would you like to? Let me know in the comments.
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