The touristy town of Ella sits in the rolling green tea-plantation hills of central Sri Lanka, south of Kandy and was our home for a few days in mid-April. Our accommodation was up a very steep road (much of the accommodation is in Ella) and probably had a lovely view of the hills in the past, but this has been replaced with a view of two huge new buildings currently under construction – most likely hotels. However, this didn’t detract from our accommodation and the breakfasts at Elegant homestay were amazing.
The climate here, at just over 1000m altitude, is different to what we had experienced to date in Sri Lanka, and we had to get our raincoats on one evening during a severe downpour (yes we were prepared!). It was still hot during the day (mid 30’s) but the nights were cooler, thanks to the altitude and rain – just as well as this was our first room in Sri Lanka without aircon.
We climbed Little Adams peak which Elliot didn’t enjoy as it was mostly an ascent via steps, although the first part of the walk is a pleasant meander through the tea plantations. There was a zipwire from near the top across the valley, which Elliot and Nick sat and watched whilst Jessica and I set out to conquer a couple of further peaks which we could see from the top!
We had a guided tour around Halpewatte tea factory, which was very interesting – even for the kids who got a free sample bag of fresh tea each – fortunately, they have started to like tea! The tour concluded with a sampling of teas of 5 different qualities, from each of the rolling/pressing cycles.
We visited Nine arch bridge, a bumpy journey by tuk-tuk through winding, steep and pot-holey roads but worth it. We walked up to a high viewpoint and were lucky enough to be here the same time as a train was going over the bridge.
Ella Rock on the same day was an unexpected extra, as we weren’t intending to go here, but our tuk-tuk driver said it would just be a 1km walk to the top (easier for the kids) – we didn’t realise this entailed a very bumpy journey of nearly 45 minutes in his vehicle to get there though. When we asked he kept saying “just another 5 minutes”!
Once we got there, we decided that after reaching the peak we would walk back down rather than sit in the tuk-tuk for another hour to get back – we had plenty of daylight to do this. So we paid off our driver. We were effectively scammed by him as we hadn’t agreed a price up front (we’d agreed a price for the Tea Factory only). However, we refused to pay his extortionate figure – paying about 3/4 of it and claiming that was all we had on us. Lesson – ALWAYS agree the price up-front!
The view from the top of Ella Rock was impressive and with the help of offline maps we managed to navigate our way, and persuade a reluctant and tired child, down to the main road – the last stretch involving a few hundred steep steps alongside rural properties. Once at the road we got a tuk-tuk back to our room as Elliot had had enough!
We took the train from Ella to Nuwara Eliya for our next stop. This is a very scenic, and famous, journey through the hills and tea plantations.