Ella, the Eden of Sri Lanka
I was very excited to get to Ella, as I had heard that there were plenty of hiking trails in the area, all of which had boasted stunning views. After spending some time up in the “expensive” area of the Cultural Triangle with all of the high entrance fees for tourists, I was looking forward to experiencing some of the natural highlights that Sri Lanka had to offer.
There were a multitude of accommodation options available in Ella, as it is a popular tourist spot for Sri Lankans as well. Emilia and I found a hostel called “The Ostello”, which had great reviews and affordable prices. It was located on one of the hills outside of the city center, but we thought it’d be good to be closer to nature and away from the crowds. This turned out to be a great decision, as it was my favorite accommodation of the entire trip!
The Ostello is owned by a man named Ja. Ja is an interesting character who loves to get to know each of the guests that stay there. He also cooks a delicious Sri Lankan breakfast complete with fresh juice! We would all sit around in the morning and converse before heading out for the day’s activities. The beds came with mosquito nets, very important out in the countryside, as there were definitely plenty of them!
As we arrived fairly late in the evening, Emilia and I went straight to bed, still tired from the early morning climb of Adam’s Peak. At the “family breakfast” the next morning, we met the other two guests who were currently staying here- Henriko, from the Netherlands, and Den, from China. They had plans to set off for Ella Rock, the most famous hike in the area. As it was on both Emilia and my’s to-do list already, we decided to join them.
Ella Rock Hike
We left Ostello around 9am, and it was already pretty hot outside. We hiked downhill where our hostel was located and headed into town, where our Ella Rock hike directions started. Some locals loitered near the start of the hike on the outside of town, offering to guide us for money. We politely declined and kept on going. The path is not easily discernible, even though it is an extremely popular one. We got lost a few times, but people were always around to point us in the right direction. We eventually made it to the rock shortly before 11am.
There were about fifteen people already there, but it wasn’t too crowded. The views from Ella Rock were incredible! We took a lot of pictures and then sat down to relax and enjoy the views. We had heard there was another viewpoint not too far away, so we decided to check it out as well. This lookout pointed away from town and towards nature, providing better views. The bonus was that we were the only four people there, a more relaxing experience than at Ella Rock.
We sat there for over an hour and swapped travel stories, and soon it was nearly 1pm! We decided that we should descend now if we wanted to see the train cross the Demodera Nine Arch bridge at around 3:30.
After the initial descent we again got lost and soon strayed off of the path. Luckily we came to civilization soon enough and grabbed a tuk-tuk into town to have a late lunch. I had the best chicken kothu of my trip thus far.
Nine Arches Bridge
Once again, we realized that we had to make moves or miss seeing the train cross the bridge. As the trains only run a few times during the day, it was crucial that we were not even a few minutes late to see it cross the nine arches. We set off at a brisk pace for the tracks. We passed a few people heading the opposite way. Crushed, we asked them if we had missed it, and they said that it hadn’t arrived yet. Strange that they didn’t want to wait a few minutes to see it!
We arrived at the bridge with time to spare and crossed it in order to find a good vantage point for pictures. Within ten minutes, it arrived, and we furiously snapped away. Most of the tourists soon left, so we took advantage of the empty bridge to take some pictures. Henrik even braved the steep hill to reach the bottom of the ravine.
I also really enjoyed having the bridge to ourselves, another peaceful time to just enjoy each other’s company and nature.
The last item on our agenda was to see the sunset at “Little Adam’s Peak”. Once again, we found ourselves with not a lot of time to make it there before the sunset, so we briskly made our way to the beginning of the path. The climb was not bad at all, but as soon as we reached the top, a thick fog enveloped us, obscuring our view. Since it looked like it might be rain clouds, we didn’t linger at the top for too long and headed into town.
After a relaxing dinner, we elected to take a tuk-tuk back to the hostel. None of us had much energy left to make the hike up in the dark. Overall, it was a great day spending it outdoors with some great company!
The following day, Henrik, Emilia, and I decided to return to the Nine Arches bridge to find a better angle to take photos of the train. We climbed up the hill to get a better vantage point of the tunnel and bridge. Unfortunately, this train was one of the older reddish colored ones, rather than the new electric blue Chinese ones.
Emilia, Henriko, and I then had plans to head our separate ways for a couple days-myself to the beautiful beach town of Tangalle, Henriko, to try surfing at Aragum Bay, and Emilia was going to relax a couple days here in Ella. We planned to meet up in Mirissa, a popular beach town in a couple days time.