Ella is a small town nestled in the picturesque central highlands of Sri Lanka. Its old-world charm, rich biodiversity and laid-back ambience has put it on the map for adventurous travellers to Sri Lanka. Ella is a great place to stay in the tea country and explore the outdoors on your Sri Lanka holiday.
Ella, a once a sleepy town in the highlands of Sri Lanka, has now grabbed the attention of travellers after backpackers discovered it a few years ago. This small town is located 1,014 meters above sea level, 200km east of the capital Colombo. Due to the large number of visitors, this small town’s rural charm is quickly fading. However, this is still a place to visit on a journey into Sri Lanka. Ella is surrounded by mountains and Ella Gap. On a good day Ella Gap provides views into the southern plains including a glimpse of the Indian ocean. The uniqueness of Ella is attributed to its mix of topography that includes lush tea plantations, cloud forests and sprawling hills. This small town is mostly wet and receives rainfall throughout the year. January to May are drier with scattered afternoon thundershowers and bright, sparkly mornings and considered the best time to visit. The rest of the months continue to receive rain increasing considerably from September to December.
However, this does not stop the town crowding with visitors. While the Sinhalese community largely occupies this area, one third of tea estate workers originate from South India. This unusual combination of demographics coupled with the colonial inheritance of tea plantations and infrastructure make Ella an interesting and colourful town.It is not difficult to imagine how Ella became a hotspot for backpackers. This place provides some of the best experiences to interact with nature. One of the key highlights is arriving in Ella on a scenic train ride, generally from Kandy or elsewhere in the tea country. The stunning landscape-filled journey is considered to be one of the best train rides in Asia. In Ella there are number of interesting activities to increase one’s adrenaline levels. A climb to the Little Adams Peak and Ella Rock top the list, particularly early in the morning when the views at sunrise are stunning. Zip lining is another activity that Ella offers for its burgeoning community of adventurous tourist.
Another iconic and a must see is the magical Nine Arches Bridge, a colonial inheritance that silently stands amidst tea bushes, forests and hanging clouds with a rather mystical ambience. A perfect photograph for sure. Tea factory visits are another activity that can be fitted into an itinerary in this area. Nearby, there’s also Lipton’s Seat, the cascading Diyaluma waterfalls and Ravana falls. Mild and cooler temperature in this area between 20°C – 30°C easily compliment such explorations. Accommodation in Ella is generally low to midrange as the town largely caters to backpackers and travellers who are price conscious. Small, western-style cafes are fast converting the traditional shops and eating houses. Although Ella is not for fine dining, most cafes and restaurants serve food that is appealing to western palates including a few Sri Lankan dishes with continental twists.
Over the years a couple of larger, mid-range properties have come up to cater to more affluent travellers. There is still only a handful of these accommodations with the new addition of an upmarket boutique tea bungalow just outside the town that’s worth splurging on. Ella is best included in your journey between tea country and the south coast. A train ride to Ella is the best way to reach the town to enjoy the picturesque landscape. A minimum of two days is required for those who wish to explore the surrounding natural environment. For those who want to see that place as it is, an overnight stay is just perfect.
Here are sample itineraries featuring Ella in Sri Lanka’s tea country. Click below to read more about things to do in Ella and Ella accommodation or get in touch to receive a detailed, tailor made itinerary for your Sri Lanka holiday.
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