Travel

Sri Lanka 2013 : Stunning Ella

There’s one tip I’m glad I picked up before our trip to Sri Lanka which was to wake up early for a trek in the mountains. Clouds tend to roll in at around 9am so it’s recommended to get to all those points with breathtaking views before that. Also since we were travelling in the month of August-September, it tends to get quite warm so an early start is highly recommended.

We picked Ella with the idea of trekking around for a couple of days if not more thanks to its more or less centralized position to plenty of interesting places. It’s also seemed like a quieter place to be in. After reworking our plans, we decided to stay in Ella for two nights which looking back was clearly not enough. If we were ever going back to Sri Lanka, Ella would be on the top of our list.

Little folly log cabin was by far the best place we stayed in location wise. Away from road nestled in the pine forest, it’s the perfect distance from the main square w/o feeling too secluded. The walk at night can be a little unnerving but it gave us an opportunity to see a few fireflies which was a first for me. Get a torch though so you don’t get run over by rickshaws.

The hotel we almost stayed at. Priced at a lot more than what we paid but it had it’s own little perk that we’d have gone for if they had a room for the days we were there. As we made our way up to our first trek for the day i.e. Little Adam’s Peak, we happened to spot it in the distance.

Till about a couple of hours back, I had mistaken this building as the Heritance Tea Factory hotel which was one of the hotels we were looking to stay in. Spotted right next to the 93 Acre hotel, this is in fact the Newburgh estate known for its green tea production.

The trek up Little Adam’s peak is via a relatively paved path which honestly was a little disappointing. The only exciting part about it was the bit where we froze at the sound of a thousand bees several meters high passing over us. As the climb gets a little steeper, you have to climb a couple hundred steps which was an utterly boring idea. Alternatively as pointed out by a tea plantation worker via the wife’s Tamil skills, we picked a longer but less taken path that seemed to be slowly disappearing as we ventured further. In fact we were the only ones on the path and I had to keep scouting ahead to make sure we weren’t heading in the wrong direction. Random bees and the sound of ruffled leaves as something scurried away from the path kept us interested. Soon we could hear human voices and after a hop, skip and jump we were at the top of Little Adam’s Peak.

This dude was barking away at invisible (to us) intruders. After a little wandering around we spotted another dog nearby lying down in some tall grass that the barking one was I guess protecting from whatever was lurking down in the slopes.

After around 90 minutes of walking, the view from the top was magnificent. Bang in the middle of this picture is the Ella Rock which was initially on our list but got knocked off due to a more tricky (read: leeches) climb. On the tip of the left peak you can see a few people who unlike us were brave enough to get to a more spectacular view that would involve the famous Ella gap. Basically I managed to slip while making our descend before the climb back up so that ended the idea to go there. *sigh*

With the clouds already rolling in from the south and what seemed like a storm building up towards the east; we made our way back down via the boring steps.

It was getting quite warm as we trudged along the path so carrying plenty of water is recommended. The path weaves through tree plantations on both side and if you’re lucky you’ll be able to spot a few workers as well. Keep an eye out for the various signs propped up on trees or in the tea bushes giving you information on when the bushes were last pruned and how old they were.

Lunch was at the brilliant Ella Village Restaurant which was the best food we had in Sri Lanka. As we sat there, we watch the storm roll in. That put an end to my idea to trek to the 9 Arch bridge via the railway tracks but we did anyway head to the Ella railway station and enjoy the scenery around. We snapped some funky pictures with the Fuji of the station master while fooling around with a colorful umbrella and an off camera speedlite. The storm lasted approximately 90 minutes which made it too late for us to start our 2 hour trek so instead we headed back to the main square.

And that is where I spotted the signboard to yet another hotel we’d considered staying at which supposedly had the best view to Ella gap. 30 minutes of an uphill walk got us to the hotel and standing right beside it we enjoyed the sun set and the stunning views that was the Ella gap. This picture does it no justice. One of those moment when you wished you had a tripod to pull off a proper HDR.

We walked further up in an effort to get to the water fall nearby but it was getting dark and we weren’t sure how far the water fall was. On the upside the path was stunning.

Dinner was a hum-drum affair of Pizza and a sandwich. A walk back in the dark lasted longer than usual thanks to our tired legs and brains. So it is only when we reached Little Folly that we noticed the stunning sky. With the camera propped on a piece of log with mosquitoes buzzing around; the picture was made. Not even close to being perfect but I like it.

Tomorrow we had a train to catch to Nuwara Eliya. We were looking forward to the ride through some stunning scenery and it was our first taste of how comfortable it would be. We crashed into bed satisfied by what was a perfect day out for both of us.

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2 Comments

  • Rupert Neil Bumfrey (@rupertbu)

    1

    The Tea Factory Hotel is awful, unless you like dressing for dinner and faux formality, but the grounds/gardens are lovely

    • Faisal Khatib

      2

      It was solely for the grounds that we were considering it but the costs were too high to overlook the shortcomings.

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