Things to know when visiting Ella for the weekend
Ella is a popular tourist destination in Sri Lanka located amidst hills and waterfalls in the Badulla District. Its’ scenic beauty and calm atmosphere make Ella one of the ideal places for a relaxing getaway. Rich with flora and fauna, Ella is one of the top picks for hiking in Sri Lanka. Best time to visit would be from February to June to avoid the monsoon rains. Being a small area, a whole weekend will suffice to walk around Ella without a rush. Here is a sample itinerary to explore Ella in 2 days. Saturday –
- Arrive early morning in Ella
- Grab breakfast
- Hike Ella Rock as it gets sunny and challenging to climb after 11 a.m
- Have a hearty lunch
- Visit Rawana Falls in the afternoon
- Spend the rest of the evening relaxing at your hotel
- Have breakfast
- Climb Little Adam’s peak in the morning
- Visit the Nine Arches Bridge
- Have lunch
- Leave Ella in the evening
How to get there?
By TrainThis is the most scenic, cost-effective and less tiring mode to get to Ella. If you board the Night Mail train which leaves at around 8 p.m. from Colombo Fort railway station, you can catch up on your sleep and reach Ella at 6.30 a.m. the next day. Leave for Colombo in the morning train and you can admire the beauty of the hills you missed on your way to Ella.
By CarEven though travelling by road takes only about 6 hrs it is a tiresome journey as the road uphill has many sharp bends and tough climbs.
Things to do in Ella?
Hike Ella RockIf you are an outdoor person who loves hiking then Ella is one of the best places to be in Sri Lanka. The Ella Rock is a great hike for all adventurists. The trail begins by walking along the railway tracks cutting through tea plantations, passing lush green valleys and ending with a steep climb to the top of the rock. The climb took us about 4 1/2 hrs both ways.
Climb Little Adam’s peakThe Little Adam’s Peak is a mountain that resembles the Sacred Adam’s Peak in Central Sri Lanka and is a short hike up to the top surrounded by the rich landscape of the countryside. This is a much easier climb which takes approximately 1 hr both ways and is suited for anyone who loves being outdoors.
Capture the architectural splendour of the Nine Arches BridgeThe Nine Arches Bridge is a popular attraction in Ella and can be reached (by vehicle) in approximately 15 minutes from Ella town. The uniqueness of this Bridge lies within its’ architectural design because the entire bridge is made using only cement and stone bricks. Made during the time when the British ruled Sri Lanka, the railway track functions even at present so make sure you visit the bridge at the time a train passes because that is one picture worth capturing!
Visit the waterfall bearing the legendary Ramayana fameRavana Falls boasts of legendary significance as it is believed that King Ravana held Sita (of the Ramayana tale) captive in the cave behind this waterfall. It is also known to be one of the widest waterfalls in Sri Lanka. Many people visit this attraction making it quite crowded especially during the peak tourist season.
Where to stay?
98 Acres ResortThis luxury resort is built among lush green tea plantations overlooking the mountains. With complimentary breakfast, the hotel boasts of a romantic vibe and a relaxing getaway and is a favourite holiday destination among couples.
Cool Mount ResortThe first time I visited Ella with friends we stayed at this scenic resort which lies at the top of a small hill. The Manager of Cool Mount Resort was kind enough to arrange transportation to pick us up from the Ella railway station at 6 a.m. This is a small but well-maintained lodge with 2 Double Rooms in the main building and a separate wooden cabin much suited for couples on a romantic getaway. Meals can be arranged at the Resort for a small cost and the In-house cook is happy to prepare food of your choice.
Nil Vimana VillaThis 5 bedroom villa is located approximately 10 minutes from the Ella Town and the Resort manager is friendly and helpful and even arranged transportation for us to and from Ella Station. This is more of an urban lodging with a spacious garden and can accommodate approximately 11 people. Meals can be arranged for an additional cost.
Best places to eat?Being a top tourist destination, the cost of food and beverages in Ella are quite expensive for locals and foreigners alike but here are a few affordable and quality eateries to grab a bite. When you step into the Ella town you will find many eateries on both sides of the road. Most of them charge atrocious prices however these restaurants below are a few I have been to and I can recommend that they are pocket-friendly and serves good food.
Down Town Rotti HutThe ‘log cabin’ like design and architecture of this place makes it quite easy to be spotted. With a variety of food from Sri Lankan Rice & Curry to Pastas and Parathas, they make ‘em all. That too for a decent price.
Barista‘If all else fails…head over to the Barista!’ If you aren’t a fan of Sri Lankan food and don’t want to risk an upset stomach then head over to the Barista in the Ella town. This coffee shop chain has many outlets around Sri Lanka and the food quality is at a high level. This small café is ideal to grab a cappuccino and sandwich to make your day.
Umbrella Art CafeThis unique and artistic cafe is situated along the road that leads to Little Adam’s Peak and is an ideal place to stop and relax after the climb. With its’ colourful graffiti walls and inviting atmosphere, one cannot resist heading into this place. They serve mostly juices and desserts and coffee (of course) which is worthy of its’ prize. Make sure to drop by the place and enjoy a relaxing afternoon.
Some tips to remember
- Make sure to book your train tickets at least two months in advance
- Pack warm clothing as it can get chilly during the night
- Beware of leeches especially during the rainy season when trekking
- Wear appropriate clothing and footwear when hiking as some paths don’t have much hand support
- Watch out for villagers offering to be your Guide up Ella Rock. Some are known to take foreigners on a much longer route and charge hefty amounts at the end
- It is not essential to have a Guide when climbing Ella Rock. Maps of the path are readily available online and there are many trekkers heading up the mountain at the same time as you so you won’t get lost
- Hike up Ella Rock or Little Adam’s Peak in the morning hours or in the evening as it gets very hot during the day. Try and get to the top in time for the rising or setting sun and you won’t be disappointed