Ella, Sri Lanka
5 days - December 2018
Sri Lanka has many landscapes to offer and we couldn’t wait for our next stop: the mountains !
First we stopped in Kandy for a night and we didn’t get impressed at all. It’s a city so messy, with traffic, dirty. The city is part of the Unesco Heritage list but its beauty and interest are not up to this award. Yes there are some colonial buildings, a lake and there is an important temple -the tooth temple- which is important for Buddhist people due to a tooth supposed to belong to Buddha kept there (a 5 cms’ tooth!) . But we didn’t find it cute or interesting.
So the day after we headed to Ella!
The best way to get there: a train ride on the famous « Kandy to Ella » itinerary. While usually in Sri Lanka we were the only “Western people” in public transports , here we had to fight with many tourists to get a seat. Mission achieved, we had a seat for the 7 hours’ ride! (usual method: Cedric takes care of the bags while I jumped first in the bus or train). The train was built by the British colons back in the 19th century to export to England tea leaves.
The train and rails, the work uniforms, the slowness, the noise coming from the old rails took us back in time, to the 19th century when this train was surely modern and innovative!
We had 7 hours to look at amazing landscapes -tea plantations- little villages lining the rails with clean clothes hanging, women cooking, kids waving at the trains coming, women picking tea leaves.
A glimpse of local life.
Each time we got into a tunnel the kids start screaming and waving like if we are in a roller coaster.
Arrived to Ella we discovered mountains with mist and clouds playing around. The landscapes are green we love it but there is a reason why: in 4 days here we got more rain than in one year travelling !
The program was clear and easy: hike the mountains!
We started with the Little Adams peak , a 1 hour’s easy hike up to have amazing views on the mountains surrounding us. Lucky we had a clear view!
As usual there is a Buddha at the top and local pilgrims paying some offerings like coconut, flowers, bananas.
We walked down to end up walking on the train rails ! We realised we could get to the Nine Arch Bridge (a bridge with 9 arches, I think the name is quite self-explaining :) ) from there and followed the rails for around 30 minutes. (There is only 3 trains a day and max 25kms/h so no security issue at all ;) )
The bridge was really beautiful , in our top 3 after Sydney and Segovia! Lucky us, a train passed by when we just arrived.
The day after, time to head to Haputale and the Lipton seat- 30 kilometres away. We jumped into 3 buses (and we need to remind you that buses don’t stop, they just slow down so we literally jumped into/down the buses!) to get there. In all buses, the first row is reserved to clergy, surprising. At the top we couldn’t see anything due to the mist and clouds! We found a seat where Mister Lipton (the producer of the famous Lipton tea) used to seat to look at its productions. It is said that he was a Marketing genius and we couldn’t agree more: it convinced tourists and locals to come here to get clear views on tea plantations but there is a 90% chance to have clouds and mist ! A Marketing guru! Quick hike through the tea plantations, beautiful.
Finally another bus ride to go to Diyaluma falls- 40kms from Ella. 2nd highest waterfalls in Sri Lanka with its 210 meters, they are beautiful. Many little monkeys families come here to relax (and feed with tourists giving them bananas...)
A relaxing and sportive stay in the beautiful mountains of Sri Lanka despite the rain ;)
# Ella town is quite touristy and not that charming but the surroundings are amazing .
# the train ride is famous and it’s impossible to book 2nd or 3rd class tickets in advance. Just come 1 hour before the train starts, but the tickets and good luck to get a seat!
# a second class ticket costs 360 rupies.
# we stayed at The Apple inn and loved it! The only issue: the solar showers and with all the rain and clouds we didn’t get a lot of hot water ;)
# little adams peak and the Nine Arch Bridge can be visited in one day and are easily accessible from Ella town
#we had an amazing Rice and Curry at St remos Restaurant!