Hiking to Ella Rock is a rewarding experience, with beautiful scenery, and part of the trail taking you through the active railway track – definitely a must-do in Sri Lanka! It was a highlight of our trip in this country.
We had a knock on our door in the morning – our breakfast was ready! We quickly threw on some clothes and headed down for our nice omelette and platter of fruit, fresh juice, and toast with jam.
The normal route up Ella Rock starts from Ella, but we tend to walk the path-less-travelled and so set off on a trail we discovered on OpenCycleMap. Using my Android smart phone as a guide, we soon reach a wooded area and walk through, seeing various local people on the way collecting firewood and perhaps fruit. We take a turn off and head up the hill, and reached our goal within less than an hour. We sit near a small Buddhist mountain/cave temple to eat our lunch of bananas, crackers, and biscuits – the usual lunch for us around these parts. Then a short walk from here takes us to the top of Ella Rock – we meet a friendly European couple who live in London, and take in the impressive views – including nearby “Little Adam’s Peak”.
From the Rock, we walk down to Ella, through steep wooded areas, tall grass, and past some interesting villages alongside water. The path leads directly out on to the main railway track – which is part of the standard route up to Ella Rock, and in fact seems to be a popular walking route between the various towns and villages. We see many local people along the way – school children, ladies with their umbrellas, monks, as well as a few westerners here and there.
We are a bit nervous at first walking along a railway track… this is the first time in our lives that this seemed like a possibility, never mind considering whether it is a good idea. Luckily trains here are quite infrequent, but even so, walking across a railway bridge with little scope for refuge either side of the track did quicken our pace somewhat. Walking along these tracks, enjoying amazing scenery, and getting a feel for local life along the way, becomes our favourite part of the walk so far.
Ella is a small town, with various nice looking food places which are much more geared towards western travellers than any other place we have come across so far. We stop at a restaurant called ‘Nescoffee’ – we are very impressed, it feels a lot like some of our favourite eating places in Thailand, and for the first time since we’ve been in Sri Lanka that we’ve had the opportunity for a proper lunch! Aneta orders a Sri Lankan dish with rice, meat, and vegetables baked wrapped in a banana leaf. We consider doing another small hike, and then returning here for dinner, but instead we set off towards home. Making use of our newly found ability to walk along railway tracks, we decide to take this route home, a walk of around 1 hour 20 mins along the tracks, two stations along the track. Nearly reaching our destination, a train comes hurtling towards us, but the noise forewarns us and we step aside and take a couple of close up photos.
Back at the Hideaway Hotel, we have a small dinner, and sit upstairs on the terrace in the warm air doing a bit of research for the following day. Another guest at the hotel says hello, and we have a chat about various things, and he gives us some advice on our travels plans around Sri Lanka. It turns out that Waruna is Sri Lankan, but has been living out in Torronto, Canada for the past 5 years or so (Note: after this trip in Asia we were moving straight to Canada!). We really enjoy chatting with Waruna and exchange contact details. At the end he offers to give us a lift the following morning in his car to the nearby town Bandarawella.
Overall, this has been an amazing day, one of our best so far. It has been definitely a highlight of our holiday in Sri Lanka.