So many places, people, tuktuks, stories, moments, in just 10 days in Sri Lanka! It's amazing how a country can surprise you so much! I don't even know how to start describing our 10 days. I want to talk about food (the amazingly good Sri Lankan food), the people (the incredibly kind people), the places (breathtaking beautiful places), transportations (crazy tuktuks, speedy buses, wonderful trains, a safari jeep and cheap scooters), stories (beautiful ones, told to us by complete strangers), moments (so many magical moments that can't even be described into word).
In order to be more structured and keep it a bit simple, I decided to write separate articles about every major stop in Sri Lanka. This one is about Nuwara Eliya and Ella.
Tea Factory - When in Sri Lanka, it's a must to visit a tea plantation.
My first choice was Bluefield Tea Plantation, but the taxi driver recommended a different one, that was recently opened so we went to Tea Bush Tea Factory (yeap, Tea Bush is the real name). It was actually great, people from there took their time to explain the process, they answered all my questions and I was allowed to take photos inside (which I heard is not allowed in the big factories). Oh, and the view was spectacular! I can’t say if it’s best to visit a small plantation or to go to a classic one, like Pedro or Bluefield, I just know that for us was the best decision. Perhaps if you have the time you can try both. ;)
Fun Fact: did you know that they use the same tea leaves for green tea and for black tea? I didn’t!
Seetha Amman Temple
It was on my list, but we arrived very late at our accommodation (the ride from the airport to Nuwara Eliya seemed like forever), we had more than 24h of planes, airports and taxi on us so we took a shower and went out to eat before falling asleep at 7pm.
Where to eat
Grand Indian was the one for me. Mostly because I really needed a glass of wine after the road 🙈 and mostly because it had some good reviews. A bit pricey but the food is delicious and the service is good.
- Salmiya was the other option, but it was the first night in Sri Lanka and I really didn't wanted to have pizza. Maybe if you're in the middle of your trip and you want a bit of variety it's a good option.
Side Notes: - from Colombo Airport to Nuwara we took a taxi (they are pretty expensive, my suggestion: try to avoid them if you can).
- One of my concerns before getting there was on how we’ll get around in the cities. Once you get there you figure it out very fast that tuktuks are the answer. They are everywhere and they take you anywhere. Way cheaper than taxis but more expensive than buses (but we'll talk about that later).
THE TRAIN RIDE from Nuwara Eliya (Nanu-Oya is the railway station) to Ella. One of the main reasons I stayed in Nuwara Eliya first was that I can take the train twice: from Nuwara Eliya to Ella and from Ella to Kandy. I have read so much about this route, I have seen so many photos and I dreamed about it a lot. It's supposed to be one of the most beautiful train rides not only from Sri Lanka but worldwide. And it did not disappoint. Tea plantations, waterfalls, green hills, beautiful people, colorful atmosphere, good food from the train vendors (I was surprised too), that train has it all!
Side notes: You can book your tickets in advance or you can go straight to the railway station and purchase them before your trip. For the first ride I purchased the tickets before the ride. 3rd class tickets, no seats. It's the perfect option for a backpacker that also loves to take photos. Well, not so much because the train was sooo crowded that every bit of window and every door were occupied. For our second trip, form Ella to Kandy we booked our tickets 2 days before. I asked the nice man to give me tickets in the last carriage, but he gave me tickets in first class (the one with air con and no open windows 🤦♀️). It was not such a big problem, I stayed in 2nd class but I had to move a lot. In conclusion: BUY 2nd class tickets in advance!
Observe the people from trains
So many people. So many lives. So many stories.
Go to Nine Arch Bridge and walk along the rails from Nine Arch Bridge to Little Adam's Peak
We were fortunate enough to stay in a lodge that had a splendid view over the Nine Arch Bridge. I mean, absolutely spectacular! The guys from there told us the schedule of the trains and I was able to catch some nice shots directly from our hotel. It was a nice walk to get there, but from Ella you can get a tuk tuk to get to the bridge. We waited for the morning train*, had a coconut at the Nine Arch Cafe and went along the rails to the Little Adam's Peak. It took us about 1h30 but just because we stopped a lot on the way to make photos.
Climb Little Adam's Peak or/and Adam's Peak and Ella Rock
We climbed only on Little Adam's Peak because we only had one full day in Ella and we had a lot on our list and mostly because we are a bit lazy sometimes. It's a very easy hike (easy to make with any type of shoes) and the view is really beautiful from the peak. It gets about 1h (if you stop for photos) from Ella to the foot of the mountain and about 15 minutes to the peak.
Go to Ravana Fall, Ravana Cave & Diyaluma Falls
We had a scooter* for the one day we were in Ella so it was easy to go anywhere, but you can take a tuk-tuk from Ella that can take you to the waterfall and to the cave and wait for you there.
Go to Lipton's Seat
Or so that was our intention. We intent to get there on the scooter, but after 1h we found ourselves on an unamed road, in the middle of some gorgeous tea fields and we decided to make some photos there and get back to Ella. So it might be better to get the train to Haputale and get a tuktuk to Lipton's Seat.
Visit Dowa Rajamaha Viharaya - the rock temple
The temple dates back over 2000 years and is thought to be done by King Walagamba. It is famous for its large unfinished Buddha image (12m), carved into the granite rock.
Where to eat & Where to stay
- Cafe Chill is a must. Good food, yummy cocktails, great atmosphere and, most important, GOOD COFFEE! You'll see, it's difficult to be a coffee lover in Sri Lanka since it's all about tea in there!
- Have a king coconut at Nine Arch Cafe. It's right at the Nine Arch Bridge, you can't miss it.
- Adam's Breeze has really good Sri Lankan food.
- Nine Arch Lodge Ella! I usually don't recommend hotels, but this was really special! The view is as good as it gets in Ella, the food is absolutely delicious and the hosts are welcoming and willing to help you with anything!
Side notes: - Go and wait for the morning train (around 10am), it's way less crowded in there than the one from 6pm.
- the sri lankan food is absolutely delicious. if you're passionate about cooking and you have enough time, ella is the place to search for a cooking class. i know you probably don't belive me when i say it's delicious, but i'm a picky eater (my family can attest that) and i ate 95% of the food in sri lanka (except the jack fruit, i really don't like Jack Fruit).
- The price for the scooter was 1500LKR (aprox 10$), it was a bit more expensive because we spoke with our host and someone brought it straight to our lodge. I think you can easily find it with 1000LKR/day.
Feel free to ask me anything! Thank you for reading so far, cheers to great adventures! ♥️