Beautiful Ella is a hippy laid back town in the Sri Lankan hill country, surrounded by lush green tea plantations and high peaks to view from, it’s a highlight to a lot of adventures through the island and one we certainly loved.
We visited Ella for two nights between Kandy and the Southern Province, staying in a beautiful Guest Inn and with a full day to explore as much as this town had to offer as possible. We approached Ella via the very famous Kandy to Ella train route, arriving after dark and grabbing a tuk tuk up to our Guest Inn to lay our heads before a full day as the sun came up.
Our Guest Inn was located on Waterfall Road, a beautiful lane with the most breathtaking views across the valley. It’s a steap incline up this road so prepare to have a slightly nervous tuk tuk ride or lug a suitcase up! We opted for a Guest Inn as the resorts and modern hotels I found all seemed to be further out of the town and with only one day to explore, we needed to be as centrally located as possible.
In the morning, we woke up early to the fantastic views of the misty rolling hills and had freshly cooked breakfast from the owner, I opted for English breakfast and instantly regretted not trying their delicious Sri Lankan style!
I knew the Nine Arches Bridge was a hot destination and as such would be exceptionally overrun with tourists and photo takers so we headed here first. We arrived just after 9am and although there were a LOT of people about, it didn’t spoil anything. The only reason to head over super early is if you want endless uninterrupted photographs but other than that, there’s plenty of space to all enjoy the sights. We were so lucky that as we made our way down towards the tracks, a blue train came through! It’s worth checking the times to see if you can capture this yourself. You can access the Nine Arches Bridge from the road where our tuk tuk dropped us off which involves a slight clamber down over the hill but nothing too difficult.
Once we had enjoyed the area, grabbed our snaps and a fresh coconut from the local vendor, we followed the tracks and walked back through to the town. This walk took about an hour and I highly, highly recommend doing so. The views across from the train line and the nature before you is mesmerising. We stumbled by a lot of locals walking along the tracks heading to work or elsewhere which was lovely also. The track leads you straight back to the Ella train station if you want to wander into the town or continue to follow it to Waterfall Road where our Guest Inn was, beating that hill you have to climb from the town!
After a quick freshen up in the room and a top up of the sun screen, we headed in to town and enjoyed some lunch. We went to Café Chill which is right on the roadside and you can’t miss it. The menu here is very good, not the cheapest place but the staff were super friendly and it’s a comfortable place to sit and watch the world go by. We both opted for a burger and had a lovely fresh smoothie before hand.
After we were well fed, we headed off on adventure number two and continued the walk along the train line passed Waterfall Road and on to a beautiful waterfall. Walking along here you stroll passed locals washing their clothes, feeding their stock or playing in the grass, it’s so heartwarming. Follow the track and you’ll reach this waterfall, you start at the top so no scary climb up! The setting is fantastic, surrounded by growing crops and jungle, we sat on top of the rocks for a while, enjoying the breeze and slight coolness to the air, watching the kingfishers in the water catching fish and the dragonflies fluttering around.
Once we’d had enough time here, we headed back along the track and followed it straight to town.
Ella town has a lovely array of shops, from gift shops, artisan crafts and souveniers. Some of our favourites include the Sticks No Bills poster shop with the lovely postcards which now are on my wall making me smile every day and the Stolen Paradise clothes store, the cutest line two pieces and basic t shirts!
Ella is a very friendly, happy and hippy town with what seems like a big backpacking community. You feel very at home here quite quickly and with the area being small, you can walk around it enjoying a lot of the sights on foot. There’s two big hikes you can do in Ella, the Little Adams Peak and Ella Rock, unfortunately we didn’t have time for either but we did have a cracking sunrise view from our Guest Inn so I was happy with that!
You can find further information on the Kandy to Ella train, our Guest Inn and our next destination, The Safari in my Sri Lanka tag!