Nestled in the hills and mountains of Sri Lanka’s central region, and surrounded by lush green vegetation, lies the small town of Ella.
Relatively unknown, not too long ago, it has become one of the country’s ‘must visit’ destination in recent years.
The world Ella comes from the Sinhala phrase ‘diya ella’, which means ‘waterfall’ and there is no shortage of these in the area.
Situated at 1,040 meters above sea level, Ella is located 200km East of Colombo.
The relatively high altitude provides a cooler (and damper) climate, which makes the region ideal for growing tea. And as you’d expect, there are many tea plantations and estates in this area.
Top Things to Do in Ella
So now that you know a little more about the place, it’s time to reveal our list of the top things to do in Ella:
Climb Little Adam’s Peak
Little Adam’s Peak is named after Adam’s Peak, a bigger mountain in the Nuwara Eliya District, which is similar in shape.
The climb is a pleasant hike of about an hour each way and you will encounter tea plantations and a little village on the route.
From the top, you can admire views of the ‘Ella Gap’ and the valleys and lowlands that lie beyond.
Since this walk is relatively easier than most, it makes it quite popular. So you’re sure to bump into fellow travellers along the way.
Climb Ella Rock
A slightly more challenging climb of about two hours will take you to the summit of Ella Rock.
The views make the climb more than worthwhile. So you will need to set aside some time to take it all in and capture, with lots of photographs.
Visit the Nine Arches Bridge
If you’ve seen a picture of Ella on Instagram, there’s a very good chance that it’s one of this iconic bridge.
The bridge is of the viaduct variety and is located in neighbouring Demodara, between the Ella and Demodara railway stations.
It was constructed in the early 1920’s, during British Colonial times.
The story goes that the steel which was earmarked for the construction of this bridge had to be diverted towards the war effort, when the First World War broke out. So it was built entirely out of brick, stone and cement as a result.
Be warned that this bridge is a particularly popular tourist destination and you’re most likely to find the area quite crowded during peak times.
See Diyaluma Falls
At 220m high, Diyaluma Falls is the second-highest waterfall in Sri Lanka (with Bambarakanda Falls in Kalupahana being the highest at 263m).
Diyaluma falls is situated in Poonagala, about an hour’s drive from Ella town.
Although the falls are spectacular to see and experience from the foot, many visitors now report that climbing further up to the top of Diyaluma falls provides for better views and a chance to swim in the natural pools there (during the dry season).
But please beware that you should exercise caution as the climb can be dangerous, especially during bad weather.
Visit A Tea Factory
Sri Lanka is the land of tea and Ceylon tea (‘Ceylon’ being an older name for Sri Lanka) has long been hailed for its superior taste and quality.
Most of your hikes and walks around Ella are likely to take you through tea estates, where you will often see the ladies plucking tea leaves (traditionally, they pick the two leaves and bud from the top of each branch or stem).
You’ll notice that the tea bushes are more or less uniform in height. The bushes are maintained at this height partly because it makes it easier for the tea pluckers to do their work without needing to bend or stretch unnecessarily.
The leaves, once plucked, are then dried and processed, prior to being graded and packaged.
With so many tea factories also located in the area, a visit to one will teach you all about the manufacturing process, and of course, how to make the perfect cup of tea.
Visit Ravana Falls and Ravana Ella Cave
Ravana Falls is an impressive sight to behold. But the experience of a visit there is not limited to just the waterfall itself. It includes the amazing scenery on the way and at the top, and, of course, the Ravana Ella Cave.
Legend states that the cave (located behind the waterfall) is where King Ravana of Sri Lanka hid Princess Sita after kidnapping her from her husband Rama in revenge for him slicing off his (King Ravana’s) sister’s nose.
And here’s a shocking fact about the cave: archeologists have discovered evidence of humans inhabiting this cave dating back 25,000 years!
Visit Lipton’s Seat
Located in neighbouring Haputale, Lipton’s seat is a lookout point with a phenomenal view.
From here, you’ll see acres and acres of tea plantations stretching out before you on all sides. You’ll also see the tea plucking ladies industriously going about their work.
Lipton’s Seat gets its name from the fact that it’s the place from which the Scottish tea magnate Sir Thomas Lipton surveyed his tea empire.
Take A Cooking Class
Any visitor to the country will testify that if Sri Lanka is famous for its great tea, then it’s best-kept secret (until fairly recently) is its delicious food! More or less everyone who has tasted Sri Lankan cuisine has been instantly converted into a curry-addict.
With delicious food that seems to just explode with so many spices and flavours, Sri Lankan cooking is fast becoming an international phenomenon in its own right. And where better to sample and learn how to cook Sri Lankan curries than Sri Lanka?
Conveniently, there are many places in the Ella area that offer cooking classes, so it’s definitely something worth considering.
A recent addition to the area (based near Little Adam’s Peak) and growing fast in popularity is the ‘Flying Ravana’ zipline experience.
The zipline offers two wires, so two riders can go in parallel at the same time. It’s 550 meters long and over 82 meters high, with a top speed of 80kmph.
It is certified by the European Rope Course Association for safety. So you can relax in your harness, as you zoom over tea plantations at 80kmph!
And there’s automatic braking at the bottom, so you’re more or less guaranteed a smooth landing every time.
To learn more, visit the Flying Ravana website at https://www.flyingravana.com/
Take the Kandy to Ella train
We’ve saved the best for last and our top thing to do in Ella (drumroll please) is to take the train into or out of Ella Station.
Hailed as one of the most scenic train rides in the world, the train ride from Kandy to Ella takes you through some of the most beautiful natural scenery imaginable. Take in mountains, valleys, waterfalls, lush green forests and tea estates, add in a smattering of rain, mist and history, sprinkle some super friendly people and camaraderie, and you’ve more or less captured the essence of this epic train ride.
But don’t just take our word for it… go and experience it for yourself!
Hangover Hostel Ella
Our hostel in Ella is located just 3 minutes from the Ella train station and is a short walk from the town centre.
The Demodara Nine Arch Bridge is just 1.5 miles away from our hostel. Little Adam’s Peak is 1.6 miles away and Ella Rock, just 2.1 miles away, making it a convenient base from which to see Ella’s attractions.
In addition to great service and accommodation, we offer all the comforts and conveniences that the discerning modern traveller has come to expect.
We have an awesome terrace where guests love to chill and congregate and we also provide evening entertainment. So there’s always a fun and friendly vibe.
Please get in touch, if you have any questions at all.