Ella is a small village in the middle of Sri Lankan Highlands. It was and still is an important road junction before becoming a touristic centre.
There’s not really much to do and see in the village itself, as a matter of fact all the main attractions are scattered some km away. Being located right in the middle of all of them, and being reachable from 3 directions, makes Ella a perfect place to use as a base to visit its surroundings.
We walk down on the opposite side looking for the beautiful Nine Arches Bridge. We lose ourselves meandering for a while through the plantations, searching for a shortcut they told us about, while hearing the train whistle nearby, and losing the first opportunity to see it on the bridge. At last we get in front of Nine Arches Bridge from an excellent spot.
He’s even building with is bare hands a tiny chalet he wants to turn in a guestroom with a view! He tells us the next train should be at 1.30 pm, but coming from Kandy about 160 km of slow up and downs through the mountains it comes hours late sometimes. After thanking him and saying goodbye, we decide to walk down onto the bridge.
|Bus Colombo - Ella $ 16.50 4h|
|Taxi Colombo - Ella $ 134.20–231.19 4h 5m – 5h|
|Train Colombo - Ella $ 10.45–19.57 8h 26m – 9h 22m|
|Train Colombo - Badulla $ 6.30–29.36 9h 7m – 10h 40m|
Many people do it, there’s only one train every two or three hours, they run very slowly. It’s a very fascinating walk, definitely not one you do everyday! After a couple of km, here comes the train in front of us! We step on the side and go back on the rails, until we finally approach Ella station on platform 1, what a great time!
In the evening, we have a nice pumpkin soup and taste the typical curd with honey, a sort of yogurt made of buffalo milk.
The following day we decide to go to Lipton’s Seat, about 30 km far. Google Maps is very approximate in this area, it suggests us roads that end in courtyards or don’t even exist. Finally we reach the feet of the highlands covered with tea cultivations: the last 9 km are all hairpins through them, an amazing spectacle.
We are coming up from a different road, surely not the main from Haputale that most people do, arriving by train or bus in the city and walking up for the last 7 km. That’s why we are the only strangers here. 2 km away from the top, we connect with the main road, entering the Dambatenne estate. Many brave tourists are hiking up, we are glad being on our scooter, going at 10 km/h we take our time to enjoy the view.
Finally at the top, we take the symbolic photos with Sir Lipton’s statue, the visionary entrepreneur who transformed all the surrounding hectares in plantations back in 1890, lowering its selling price and making it the popular drink everybody can afford nowadays. We just stay for few minutes, some nervous hornets are flying around, and the view is not very special compared to the road which is far more rewarding.
The awesome Ella-Kandy train ride awaits us tomorrow!
WHERE TO STAY:
- Misty Mount Homestay, Ella: 1500-2000rs/night, 1km from town, very silent place, sweet family.
HOW TO MOVE AROUND:
- Motorbike, from a small shop in town: 1500rs/24hours;
- Fuel: 600rs, full tank.
- Train Colombo-Kandy-Ella: fare, tickets and times here.
- Lipton’s Seat, Dambatenne Estate: 40rs/person, 50rs/motorbike;
- Dambatenne Tea Factory: 250rs/person.
- Never leave home without a reliable travel insurance. Even if you trust yourself, you can’t always trust others. Better safe than sorry! Get your quote here.
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