My next stop in Sri Lanka is Ella. After the beautiful 8 hour train ride from Kandy, I arrive in the dark. The train was delayed for 2 hours. This happens all the time. Ella is, like Mirissa, 1 long street, with some small side roads, so you can easily find your way here. I stayed 5 nights in total, so I could do and see everything at an easy pace, but 4 nights is enough I think. For one day I did absolutely NOTHING:-) In this blog post I share all my highlights and tips for your stay in Ella.
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View from Ella Rock | Ella Sri Lanka
I stayed at Hangover Hostels, where I booked my own room. The liveliness in hostels is what I love, but I prefer to have my own room, so I can get some proper sleep. Unfortunately, the hostel was very quiet, so I decided to sit down with a book on one of the beanbags upstairs at Chill Café. What a nice place! I met a lot of other travelers here, who I reunited with during the rest of my stay in Sri Lanka. Love it when that happens! Hangover Hostels is a really nice hostel though and is perfectly located. I did miss a blanket and was a bit cold at night… Yes you can be cold in Sri Lanka haha.
Hangover Hostels | Ella Sri Lanka
Chill Cafe is by far the nicest place for drinks and food in Ella. I tried a few other places, but kept coming back here.
At UFO I got very sick from a chicken burrito, so I would not go there. Also, the service is extremely slow and arrogant and you pay way too much for what you get. The Kottu was delicious though… When I travel alone, I always make sure I have an ’emergency cola’ in my room. This is the only thing that helps me when I have stomach problems.
Tip: Ayurveda massages are offered on the streets everywhere in Sri Lanka, but be careful where you book your massage and as a woman, always ask for a woman to massage you. During an Ayurveda massage they also massage your chest with oil and this is almost always done by a woman, so don’t let men lure you in. In Kandy I had a FANTASTIC Ayurveda massage at Green Chaya.
Café Chill and Matey Hut
Matey Hut is promoted everywhere as the best place to try the local cuisine, but I have eaten much tastier curries than here. I think this place is not what it used to be anymore. You’re waiting in line for a table for a while and I didn’t think that it was worth the food, unfortunately.
98 Acres: go here for lunch after your visit to Little Adams Peak! This is where I had the most delicious curries in Sri Lanka! 12 small dishes with rice. Delicious! Way better than Matey Hut.
Gem & Berries: perfect place for breakfast and lunch with super friendly service and really fresh dishes. The menu has a lot of vegan options.
Café Chill: my favorite hangout! Walk on up for the comfy beanbags.
Cafe One Love: it was pretty quiet in Ella when I was there, but this is a great place for late night cocktails and drinks.
Stolen Paradise: beautiful clothing.
Right next to Cafe Chill is a good supermarket with everything you need.
The Nine Arch Bridge | Ella Sri Lanka
Nine Arch Bridge:
Before you head out for the day, get a nice coffee at Starbeans Cafe around the corner from Hangover Hostels. Delicious soy lattes and opens early in the morning!
Walk out via the main road and back via the jungle. A lot of people walk there and it’s a safe, easy route. I always take a small whistle with me, so I can make a lot of noise if someone bothers me. Didn’t need it at all in Sri Lanka. When it has rained, the last stretch to the bridge can be very slippery. Watch out for friendly leeches too… The train shows up every hour. You can find the timetable at your accommodation or at the bridge.
During hikes I always bring good DEET against mosquitoes and other insects. In Thailand I got infected with dengue fever and ended up in the hospital, so since then I never hike without it…
View from Little Adams Peak | Ella Sri Lanka
Little Adams Peak
This is a very easy hike. The last part is a bit of a climb, but the path is easy to follow. The view is breathtaking! After the hike up go to 98 Acres for a delicious lunch and try the delicious curries! You can combine the hike with a visit to the Nine Arch Bridge, but I took my time for the well-deserved lunch after the climb, including some Sauvignon Blanc.
98 Arcres Resort | Ella Sri Lanka
Leave around 07:30. At that time the first groups who visited the sunrise have left and you’ll be back before lunch. Get one of those delicious coffees to go at Starbeans Cafe before you leave! Watch out for dogs. We were sort of chased by an aggressive pack; we almost decided to go back home. It was quite intimidating. Even scratches on your leg can be dangerous as far as rabies is concerned. This I learned in Thailand, unfortunately. So if you get one, you will need to get a shot as soon as possible.
View from Ella Rock | Ella Sri Lanka
Before you leave, ask for detailed information about the route and download the app with offline maps Maps.me. Don’t go alone, because it is easy to get lost. Bring sunscreen and mosquito repellent. Follow the train track in the direction of Kilella. As you cross a large bridge, there is a sacred tree on the left. Immediately after that, the trail starts downhill on the left. There you cross another bridge and the path seems to go left, but you have to go right over a bamboo stump. This seems totally illogical, there is no sign, but this is the right way! The last part is a bit steeper to the top, which is a good 30 minutes climb. Once at the top, also visit the 2nd viewpoint with the Buddha! You can buy water and fruit here, before you start the journey down again.
The Nine Arch Bridge
Keep in mind that in Ella it can cool off considerably in the evenings; bring a warm sweater! After my stay in Ella I travelled to Udawalawe NP for a safari. Highly recommended! I stayed 1 night at The Countryside Udawalawe and booked my tour with them as well. They have a great pick-up and drop-off service, with a very good driver and air conditioning in the car. I was picked up by the driver in Ella and dropped off in Hiriketiya after my visit.
Never visit an elephant park where elephants are ridden and, even at an “orphanage” or “shelter”, do your research in advance to check if the animals are treated well. At the Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage in Sri Lanka, the animals are chained up underwater. Do not go there!