Ella is a charming little village in Sri Lanka in the middle of hills and tea plantages. Without a doubt, it is one of the best places that you can visit in Sri Lanka. Especially if you like hiking or tea for that matter. The great thing about this village is that Ella doesn’t have to be just a stopover to another destination. You can spend two days in Ella and enjoy the views that the mountains offer or the delicious tea. I spend two days in Ella as well so here is my itinerary for this place.
As I mentioned, Ella is quite a small town or even a village you could say. So a lot of people would ask – is it worth it to spend 2 days in Ella. Especially if you like nature and hiking, it is definitely worth it. During your two days in Ella, you would have enough time to see both plantages, waterfalls nearby and hike the famous Ella rock and see one of the most beautiful views that there is. So when you are planning your itinerary for Sri Lanka, make sure you would spend some time in Ella.
Train from Kandy to Ella
Let’s face it, you need to get to Ella in some way. Perhaps one of the best ways of doing it is to jump on a train from Kandy to Ella. This train is very picturesque. You would go around small farming villages, tea plantages, and a lot of mountains. It offers one of the most beautiful views of nature that you can ever have.
I remember going on this train. It took maybe 6 hours but all of them I was starring in the window and wanted to see more and more of these views. Make sure to take a light jacket with you because even though Sri Lanka is a rather warm place, you will pass through some high altitude places and you might get quite cold on the train.
These trains are fairly popular so make sure to book the train ahead. Keep in mind that if you do that just one day ahead, you will probably get someplace in third class – not bad, but you won’t be able to choose the seat. If you come even earlier, you might get a ticket to both the first class and the second one. These two classes have even an AC and food wagon.
Trains from Kandy are leaving in 8.47 and 11.10. I’d recommend taking the earlier one.
Little Adams peak hike
If you take the earlier train from Kandy, you arrived at Ella probably around 3 pm. Which is great because it gives you enough time to do something more just that day.
Hopefully, you are not fed up with the tea plantages views because what I would recommend doing is actually to hike through the tea plantages all the way to the Little Adams peak. It is not a difficult hike. It takes approximately 2 hours to make it there and back. You will get a great view of the valley that will be all around you. It is one of the best hikes you can probably take in Sri Lanka.
Besides there are signs all around that trail so it is not difficult to get there and later on enjoy the view. As the name of the hill say, Little Adams’s peak isn’t as high as the classical Adams peak but it is still one of the places that you shouldn’t miss if you go to Ella.
Nine arch bridge view
Last view of the day and then you can go and rest as much as you would like. But it would be a shame to miss this place. Ella is a place where you can see the famous Nine arch bridge, that everyone is talking about when they come to Sri Lanka.
Most of the people prefer to see it from above, so they can see all of the bridge in its beauty. You can actually get there by following another trail from the Little Adams peak. It is also a path that will lead through the tea plantages, so you can enjoy the proper views and get to see how local women are collecting the leaves from the tea bushes.
Nine arch bridge has one specific view where a lot of people come. If you come in the evening, there won’t be too many people since most people are coming here in the morning.
To get back to the town, it is completely fine to actually hike down to the bridge and see it from a close distance. In fact, you might as well be going back to the town by following the train track. It will get you back to the train station, where you get off the train in the afternoon.
Hike to the Ella Rock
Ella is a big hiking place and everyone who loves hiking is here in the right place. So on the second day of your stay in Ella, start by hiking the famous Ella rock. It is quite a nice hike. The difficulty is rather medium, there are some places that are fairly steep and there isn’t any clear path.
The hike leads basically to the opposite place of the valley in Ella, and it leads through the forest. It is a bit adventurous but takes it from someone whose knees are not in the best condition – most people can do it, just be careful where you step in.
Once you hike all the way to the view, you will get to know why is it called the Ella rock. Basically there is one massive rock that comes from the hill. It is safe to step on it and see the view from there. If you decide to do that, just make sure you don’t go too close to the edge, it is quite high and there is nothing to grab on to.
So, as I already mentioned, the hike is rather a medium difficulty. It will take about 3 hours to get there and back to the town. Due to the fact how warm it can get in midday, it is probably better to start hiking early in the morning and enjoy the view before most of the people and the hot temperatures arrives.
Get to know more about tea
As you might have noticed once you came to Ella and it’s nearest surroundings, Ella is a tea plantation paradise. And you can find a lot of tea factories. Just around Ella, there are at least three of them. So you can choose the one that will be closer to you. Or the one that you will see first.
In the tea factory, they will tell you all about the process of making tea. What is the difference between the green and black and white tea, how they make them and when is the bush ready to be a harvest. It is one of the things that you should have on your Ella itinerary because the teas from this area are world known.
Most of the factories here would also have a presentation of their tea culture and how someone came up with tea being a thing. They would also tell you all about lord Lipton who started to deliver tea from there to England. I guess this is nothing for coffee lovers but still. The tea here is delicious and you have an opportunity to buy it for a very reasonable price.
Visit the Ravana falls
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Enough of the plantages, let’s see some other views. Ravana falls are really close to Ella. The easiest way to get there is to take a tuk-tuk to the Ravana center. You can spend quite a bit of time here.
The Ravana falls are great for anyone who wants to hike or swim as well. You can hike all around the place and get the best views on the falls. Once you feel like you are done hiking and seen it all, make sure you have your swimsuit with you, because it is time to bathe.
There are a couple of places in Ravana falls where you can swim very close to the waterfall. The water is usually quite clean and very refreshing. Since it is still running water, it is not the warmest place where you can bathe. But the temperatures here are quite high, so it is quite nice to actually find a place like this. On some of the places close to the waterfall, you can even jump very close to the waterfall. Just make sure that there is actually water under you, so you wouldn’t hit rocks.
Besides the waterfall, you can also see the local culture here and visit the local Buddhist temple. At that point make sure that you are back to clothing. You cannot go to the temple just in a swimsuit. After that is time to relax and prepare for the next day of travel.
Ella itinerary – practical information
Are two days in Ella enough?
That is the problematic question when it comes to traveling. Is it too much or is it even enough? Well, in the case of Ella, two days there are really enough. The Ella itinerary that you are currently reading might be a little bit to fast pace for some people but generally, it is doable to see all of these places within just two days. There are more Buddhist temples around in case you would be interested in a culture or you can also visit here other waterfalls nearby. In that case, you might want to prolong your stay here all the way to days. But if you are coming to Ella with the intention of hiking and see the famous Ravana waterfalls, this is enough.
Safety tips for Ella
Generally, Ella is a small and relatively touristic place so there is no danger here, but here are some small tips that you should probably know.
About hiking – hiking in Ella is not dangerous. Or at least not the most dangerous thing to do. As I mentioned, most of the places are up to the medium difficulty, so a lot of people will manage to hike both Little Adams peak and Ella rock. But you should know that there are snakes in the tea plantages, so watch your steps. There are several women every year who dies of the snake bite, so it is not fun.
I was followed in Ella – yep, it is true. And I know that I said that Ella is not a dangerous place to go to and I stand by it, but you may still be a target of unwanted attention and people might try to follow you. But I haven’t heard about anyone who was abused. So just take precautions and you should be fine.
Watch out for the train – Everyone wants to see the train on that famous Nine arch bridge. And if you manage it – congratulation. But make sure that you are careful about when are you crossing that bridge. A lot of people decide just to take the train tracks and follow them all the way to the town. It is a pretty good idea. But just for the time when you are passing the bridge, make sure that there is no train around. The bridge is relatively long and it would be pretty hard to be faster than the train here.
Where to eat in Ella
Cafe Chill – one of the most famous places to eat in Ella but for a good reason. It has an awesome atmosphere, the restaurant is very stylish and the people here are really friendly. Besides that, here you can order both local specialties and international cuisine. And if you are here with friends just chilling after the hiking, they have quite a bit of cocktail here as well.
Curd shop – This is my personal favorite. They have a great variety of local food so you can try well, really just anything. Everything is very local here and super good. It might not look like something super desirable from the street but the truth is that it is a very cozy place with a lot of local cultures here. Besides, you can find here both dishes for vegetarians – and possibly vegans – and meat lovers as well.
How to get to Ella
I know that right at the beginning of this Ella itinerary I have mentioned the famous train. And it is truly the best and the most beautiful way of how to get to Ella. But you should know that you can also take a bus here or from here. After Ella, I continued to the south of Sri Lanka and so I took a bus from here. They are quite on time but it is not as comfortable as traveling by train, where is a little bit more space.
You can also travel around by taxi or tuk-tuks. There is a lot of tuk-tuks around so there is no problem catching one but if you are planning to take longer distances, it will be quite expensive.
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