Ella, Sri Lanka, is a favourite with adventurous travellers. From this laid-back village you can explore numerous hiking routes to gushing waterfalls and peaks that overlook tea plantations (walk alongside rows of tea bushes where friendly women are diligently filling up their sacks, that sort of thing). The lively main thoroughfare is lined with busy cafes, bars and restaurants, while tranquil homestays and hotels are perched on the surrounding hillsides.
How To Get There
As Sri Lanka is an island in the middle of the Indian Ocean, you will need to fly to Colombo’s Bandaranaike International Airport. SriLankan Airlines have direct flights that take 10 and a half hours. While Qatar, Emirates, Oman Air and Gulf Air all have one connection and tend to take around 12 hours or more.
If you are travelling to Ella from the airport, you’ll need to get a driver or a taxi. As public transport isn’t often used by travellers, having a driver is commonplace. Day rates are around 10,000 Sri Lankan rupees (about £42), and you will need to discuss your driver’s accommodation with them as they will accompany you for your stay – or as long as you need them. The drive to Ella is around three and a half hours on windy roads, so bear this in mind if you get car sick. Alternatively, you can use the Sri Lankan taxi app PickMe that has reasonable fares.
A common route in Sri Lanka is to go from Colombo to Kandy, from Kandy you can then get the popular and much-photographed Blue Train (Podi Manike) all the way to Ella. This train leaves Kandy train station at 08.47, arriving in Ella at around 15.14 provided it’s on time. You can only buy tickets in Kandy, and you ideally want first or second class tickets. Due to popular demand, purchasing tickets can be tricky as touts often buy them in bulk and inflate the prices.
Things To Do In Ella, Sri Lanka
It’s no surprise that Instagram feeds are filled with photos from Ella, everywhere you look is extremely photogenic. Starting with your journey from either Kandy or Nuwara Eliya to Ella on the blue train, trundling past a forest of green and views of dramatic valleys.
One of the easiest and most famous hikes, the foot of Little Adam’s Peak is just a 45 minutes walk from Ella. Then there is around a 15-minute ascent to the top, depending on how many stops you make for photos or breathers. Those with a head for heights may like to whizz across the valley by zip line on your way down.
The real deal, Adam’s Peak is a harder hike with between 5,000-6,000 crumbling steps. Depending on your fitness level, it can take between two and four hours to climb, with a two-hour descent. If you intend to climb it for sunrise, it’s worth going with a local or someone that knows the path well.