Approaching the Ella gap is one of the most incredible sites I’ve seen throughout my travels. The endless rolling hills are incredibly lush and overgrown with an endless variety of greenery. I almost expected to see a dinosaur running down a mountain as the scenery seemed like something straight out of the Mesozoic Era. Here’s where to exploe, eat, and stay in Ella.
The hill country is famous for its many hill-top treks, picturesque trains, and vast tea plantations. I took a bus from Udawalawe then switched over to a tuk-tuk so I’d be able to stop and take photos and make a quick visit to the Ravana Falls. The Ravana Falls are incredible, they’re some of the widest waterfalls in Sri Lanka and scale down the entirety of the mountain. The beauty attracts thousands of people so you aren’t likely to find a moment of peace here. Watch out for the monkeys, they’re out for blood, or at least snacks. I had planned to come back to hike the falls and swim but after seeing the crowds I decided to snap a picture and move on.
While in Ella I stayed at Country Homes, a bed and breakfast featuring cabins projecting off the edge of a cliff and settled amongst the treetops. The tree house like environment made me feel completely submerged in nature. My massive balcony faced the massive Ella Rock. Each morning I watched the sunrise flood the Ella gap with light and reflect off of the rock, and in the evening the reverse effect of dusk settling into the valley and casting shadows on the rock. Country Homes is family run and serves guests a homemade traditional Sri Lankan breakfast each morning of egg hoppers, locally sourced tea and fruits. The property has an abundance of vibrant wildflowers growing everywhere.
Some of the most popular restaurants in Ella are Cafe Chill (first picture below), with a cozy rooftop terrace, and Rotti Hut, with massive rotti available with all kinds of flavors and fillings. Both offer decent cuisine, at touristy prices, but nothing compares to the delicious Matey Hut. The locally owned spot near the train station is literally located in a hut and serves some of the best traditional food I had during my month in Sri Lanka. On my first visit, I had okra curry, pumpkin curry, bean curry, and a curried mango with rice and papadum! I went back again the next day and tried the banana flower salad and had the green bean yellow curry again with coconut rotti. Honestly, it isn’t even worth eating anywhere else in town! This is not a sponsored suggestion, purely my opinion, approved by my very happy tummy.
What made me really want to visit Ella was the picturesque train tracks that cut through the mountains, jungles, forest, and tea plantations. I am actually incredibly afraid of trains and thought what better environment to face my fears? I hesitated as I watched a train pass over the iconic 9 arch bridge while I gathered up the courage to hike down to the tracks and walk 3 km along them back to town. I was assured another train wouldn’t arrive for another hour but still hesitated to walk on the actual tracks and stayed on the wood beams. I am proud of myself for facing my fears and not missing out on this beautiful experience! The bridge in the sky is an absolute must see when visiting Sri Lanka.
I didn’t tour any of the tea plantations in Ella but instead took a stroll through one of the immense fields of tea bushes. The Tamil women here are warriors who work 8-hour days in the summer heat with tea bags carrying up to 10 kilos of leaves strapped to their heads. It is literally back-breaking work that has me seriously considering stopping to drink tea altogether, I don’t know if I can support this kind of brutal labor. Sri Lanka was actually renowned for coffee, not tea, until a Scotsman began cultivating tea in nearby Kandy in 1852.
Thank you, Country Homes, for inviting me to be a guest at your lovely homestay. All opinions and photos are my own. This post contains affiliate links, please read the Miss Filatelista disclosure policy for more information.