Ella, a nature lover’s paradise and cultural hub, was an absolute highlight of my Sri Lankan trip. Yes, it is geared for tourists but not overwhelmingly so and in a beautiful, untouched way. There is far too much to do there and I certainly was overwhelmed (in the best way possible) when I stepped off the famous old blue train from Kandy after winding our way through the hills, tea plantations and tropical jungles of Sri Lanka’s inland landscape. I’d recommend the following rough guide as a must do day- in among the many days I’d urge you stay there for.
The Highlight Day
For the duration of your stay in Ella, it is a crime to miss even a single sunrise, with so many epic spots to watch from, so get your early morning attitude on.
We woke up at 4:30 am to begin the hike up Little Adams Peak. We set off in the dark following the rough directions we had been given from a local shop owner. Through trees, tea plantations and along train tracks we made our way up the peak hiking for just over an hour. We reached the top in time to see a spectacular sunrise over Ella. The orange, hazy glow was somewhat surreal and made every tired step worth it. If you’re not one for a hike, stroll down to the 9 Arches Bridge to take in the sunrise there, which was pretty magical too and can be done for sunrise or sunset.
A short 9am power nap was needed and by 10am we had collected our rented scooters and were on the road to the Halpe Tea factory and plantation. The tour and tasting was a true delight and took us back into old Ceylon times. It was also, a great opportunity to buy gifts for people back home (lightweight tea leaves!). With numerous waterfalls in the area, Ravana Falls was our next stop off for a cool down, cruising through this absolutely spectacular landscape on our 2 wheels. Take another day to see the famous Diyaluma falls, the second highest waterfall in Sri Lanka!
We then made our way back into town as a well-deserved late lunch was on the cards. We picked the town’s hotspot, Chill cafe. This was another highlight of the day and much needed time to put the feet up. I ordered the Lamprais, a local favourite, which is an unbelievable concoction of wholesome chicken, rice and veg cooked in a banana leaf with delicious Sri Lankan sambol to accompany.
In the evening we had booked in to the Spice Garden for an authentic Sri Lankan cooking course(I’d recommend you pre-book at least a day before)! Our gracious hosts, welcomed us with some warming cardamom tea- we knew we were in for a treat. Garlic, spice and all things nice were on the menu and our talented chef/teacher Chandika passed on unreal and age-old knowledge as we got stuck in in the kitchen! It was well worth it and the feast we indulged in after we had spent a few hours in the kitchen was spectacular.
On route back to our accommodation we couldn’t help popping in for a last Lion lager to wash down the meal at 360 Ella. We soaked up the atmosphere and live music before trundling back home.
This day was one for the books. I’d definitely recommend something similar for adventure seekers and the traveler who likes to pack it all in.