Asia, Sri Lanka

What to do in Ella, Sri Lanka

26th October 2017

Get your walking shoes on, it’s time to get outside! Ella is home to some seriously pretty views. It’s also higher up in the hills than the beaches, which means not so hot so hiking is more bearable. I hate to break it to you though, you will still work up a sweat!

I arrived in Ella after a casual 7 hour bus journey on a local bus. Leaving Matara at 6am I touched down at 1pm. I did my usual nil by mouth for a long trip trick (no toilets on local transport!) so I scouted out a nice cafe with wifi so I could find my bearings and feed myself.

The bus from Matara to Ella

Sleeping:

I had booked myself into a treehouse for the first night which I was ridiculously excited about. I have to say that 5 weeks into my trip it is still the highlight for me! After realising I was close by but it was a walk up a seriously steep hill I hopped in a tuk tuk and arrived at my destination.

It was honestly beautiful, have a little look for yourself! I’ll be writing a post in more detail on this place for my blog guru Becky’s blog very soon so keep your eyes peeled for that!! For now I’ll just let you in on the name, Ella Eco Lodge.

Obsessed with this view

I sat on the balcony doing some work for about an hour and then the heavens opened and I had to run for cover inside, I don’t think I’ve ever heard rain so loud. Ironically in the tree house is where I had the best wifi of my whole trip … who’d have thought it!

Some serious rainfall

I spent that night loving life in the jungle, I slept like a baby after listening to the monkeys climbing on the roof and the birds in the trees. When I woke up breakfast was served on the balcony, Sri Lankan’s really know how to do breakfast!

Serious breakfast goals

This was my little treat off my Aunty for my Christmas present, and on my budget I had to be realistic and move somewhere cheaper for the next couple of nights. Next stop Ella Inn, a great little find from booking.com. It was right in the centre of Ella town and a 5 mins walk to the train station. Perfect!

Friends of mine stayed in Tomorrowland, one of only two hostels in Ella. It’s a bus ride up the hill out of town but cheap, cheerful and full of travellers. Be warned though, you’ll be camping! The second hostel in the town was Cheap Sleep, and I hate to be negative … but I. think most prisons have better conditions! I won’t say anymore on that one!

Eating & Drinking:

Breakfast was easy, both my treehouse and my BnB provided local breakfast. If you’re wondering what Sri Lankan breakfast consists of it’s lots of egg and lots of sugar! Fruit platters, pancakes, hoppers, toast and jam!

By far the most popular place on the street (Ella town centre is literally one street!) was Cafe Chill. A vibey place which looked small from the front but stretched really far back and also had an upstairs. The menu was a mixture of Western and Sri Lankan foods and over a few days I visited a few times with different people, none of us had a bad meal there. The staff were extremely friendly too and would remember you from the day or two before, which is always a nice touch.

Another good spot was on the other side of the road from Cafe Chill and up a flight of stairs, a great Mexican place called In Reincarnation! I had the most amazing veggie burrito and nachos. Try and keep an eye out for that one.

Like everywhere else in Sri Lanka I visited, nightlife wasn’t a huge part of the culture. But in Ella there were a couple of bars offering happy hour, and beers were readily available in places that sold food. To be honest though, you’d be up early getting a wriggle on to go hiking before it was too hot, so partying all night wasn’t a priority!

Which leads me to your day time activities …

Hiking:

Hiking is the top activity in Ella, there are various routes you can do and the views really are lovely.

Little Adam’s Peak is a must do, it’s an easy hike – mainly up stairs which gets the thighs burning! We thought about heading up for sunrise, but sadly the weather was cloudy in the mornings so our hotels advised us we would be disappointed. So around 4pm one afternoon we headed up. Again, it was quite cloudy but still a nice view, have a little butchers below.

Little Adams Peak

Next up is the Nine Arch Bridge, built back when the British Empire were ruling the roost it is one of the most iconic landmarks in Sri Lanka. It is pretty nifty to be fair, and you can walk along the tracks and through the tunnel if you want to. Just keep your eye on the train times, because it’s still a fully functioning train track so the possibility of being hit by a train is very real!

There is also a pretty epic viewpoint above the railway

Nine Arch Railway

Adams Peak is the big brother of Little Adams Peak, I actually swerved that one. It’s about a 10k round trip, which I could deal with, however it was raining. And the rain could go from drizzle to torrential in 3 seconds so I really didn’t fancy getting half way up or down and being washed away in a landslide!

Treat Yourself:

So because the weather threw a spanner in the works of my hiking, I decided to treat myself. There are plenty of ‘spas’ up and down the streets offering full body massages and other Ayurvedic treatments. I went for a package of a full body massage and an Ayurvedic Shirodhara. Both were an hour each.

A shirodhara is basically an oil treatment where they drip warm oil on your forehead, and it’s mega relaxing. It has all sorts of healing benefits (apparently) including helping insomnia, stress and fatigue. I was recommended it by a friend and if I’m honest I was quite sceptical. But it was really relaxing and I wouldn’t say no to having another one, so I guess that’s a thumbs up from me.

Now the spa wasn’t exactly on a level with a western spa, but I quite liked it’s grotty charm. Seems more of an authentic experience! Also, as it was off season I managed to haggle the price down from 8000 rupees (£39) for the two treatments to 6000 rupees (£29). So bear that in mind when you are thinking of having a treatment, it’s always worth putting a smile on your face and trying to haggle the price down.

The Token Temple:

Obviously, every city or town has one listed as an attraction and Ella is no different. Rakkhiththakanda Len Viharaya Cave Temple

It’s a teeny little cave temple, which is generally quiet. On Poya days though it can get super busy. Poya is the holiday held to mark a full moon, so it happens once a month and no alcohol can be bought anywhere on that day!

If I’m honest it was only little and not that exciting, but there was a pretty cool Buddha carved in the rock walls and a school next door so lots of cute enthusiastic children knocking about.

So there you have it, how to fill up a few days in Ella!

And once you leave there you can easily get the pretty train across the country, which you can read more on in my post GETTING AROUND A BIT: TRANSPORT IN SRI LANKA

If you’ve been to Ella let me know your favourite bits in the comments below!

You can also check out a few of my other posts on Sri Lanka!

THE BEST BEACHES, SOUTHERN SRI LANKA

A GUIDE TO GALLE, SRI LANKA

 

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