March 4th, 2018
Out of all the places we were planning to visit in Sri Lanka – I was most excited to see Ella.
I knew it would be the total opposite to down south, and I was so ready to explore its beauty and lush scenery.
Ella is a small town set amongst rolling hills and tea plantations and sits over 1,000 metres above sea level. It is much cooler up there and a lovely respite from the Sri Lankan heat.
In the 4 days we stayed in Ella – we were able to tick off quite a few of the must-see and do’s.
Transport options from Mirissa to Ella are slim. There are no trains – so it was either we risk our lives taking a public bus, or take a private driver. Needless to say, we took the latter option. The drive was approximately 4 hours stopping for snacks, and the odd herd of cows to cross the road…not kidding.
We passed the waterfall on our way into Ella. Our driver stopped so we could hop out, stretch our legs and check out the enormous 25 metre high falls.
Another popular spot for locals and tourists to come and enjoy a cooling dip in the fresh water, or just take a few happy snaps. There are also a few food stalls along the side of the road to buy some tasty local snacks – nuts, grilled corn, breads…just watch out for the cheeky monkeys!!
Nine Arches Bridge
The world famous Nine Arches Bridge is a half an hour walk or short tuk tuk ride from Ella town. It is made solely of stone and cement and is over 90 metres long. Images on Instagram don’t seem to do it justice. In person – she is remarkable. I was in awe.
We wandered down one afternoon to see the 5:30pm train come through.
Trains only come through a couple of times a day, and most tourists head down to catch a glimpse of the blue beauty cruising across the bridge.
The kids loved playing on the tracks, pretending they were on set of Harry Potter!
Little Adam’s Peak
Seeing as we are now a pro hiking family…we ventured out to take on Little Adam’s Peak one morning before breakfast. It was a clear, sunny morning and the perfect conditions for a leisurely 2 hour hike. Little Adam’s Peak is very achievable for hikers of any level, including children. The track weaves around the hills through the tea plantations. The Sri Lankan ladies are busy working picking tea leaves, but are always happy to stop for a quick photograph.
There were quite a few kids on the track – from toddlers to teens. The view from the top is breathtaking. This was my favourite day in Ella and I highly recommend if you’re visiting.
Ella is only small, but has a some great spots to enjoy a meal.
Cafe Chill was THE place for tourists! It was packed each time we dined there, but being multi level – we always managed to get a table. They have a great lounge area upstairs too. A great place to enjoy a cold drink and listen to live music whilst overlooking Ella town. There were a few Sri Lankan dishes on the menu – but mainly western food. Pizza, wraps, milkshakes. I tried vegetarian Lamprais for the first time and it was delicious! Lamprais is rice and different curries wrapped and baked in banana leaves. Full of flavour!!
AK Ristoro was also really good. We had dinner here twice. Lily loved it as she was able to get her Spaghetti bolognese fix two nights in a row! AK’s is around the corner from the main street and a little quieter which is always nice. Food was fresh and very good.
The staff here were wonderful and attentive. I highly recommend this place.
We really enjoyed the sight-seeing in Ella – but our accommodation wasn’t the best, the air was damp, so everything always felt wet. We all got a little sniffly and were ready to move on when our time there had come to an end.
We took the stunning train ride from Ella to Kandy. 6 hours turned into about 7, but surprisingly it went quite quick…(I plan to write a ‘Riding Sri Lankan Trains’ blog post very soon..)
Kandy was a breath of fresh air.
As soon as the train pulled into the Kandy Station – everything was right in our world. We arranged a taxi driver and headed up the hill to our accommodation. I had booked our first ever Homestay…(not that I even realised that until we got there!!!) It was a beautiful home set in the hills overlooking Kandy town. It was peaceful, SO clean and cosy and the hosts were incredible!
We stayed for 4 days and I simply cannot rate Hanthana Holiday Rooms highly enough.
We had breakfast included each morning. A variety of tasty Sri Lankan delicacies.
Lentils with dosa, Hoppers with fruit (eggs for Andrew), sweet breads with tasty jams and of course – hot tea. It was such a lovely and unique way to start each day whilst chatting to the hosts sitting in their kitchen at their dining table. We all loved it!
The day we left, Mr and Mrs Jayakody gifted the kids a Sri Lanka t-shirt and key tag each. Completely unnecessary, but so sweet of them! One day we will head back to Kandy and stay here again.
Royal Botanical Gardens
The gardens were absolutely beautiful.
Located just over 5kms west of Kandy city in Peradeniya on the Mahaweli River. The gardens are enormous – set on over 145 acres of land and have over 4,000 species of plants. Plenty of space for the kids to run around and explore.
There is a lovely restaurant serving both buffet and a la carte lunch.
Entry fee into the gardens was about $50AUD for the 4 of us (lunch additional).
A great spot to sit and enjoy the sunset. Right in the middle of town and perfect for families, prams, runners etc.
The man made lake was built in 1807 by the King and is situated beside the Temple of the Tooth. The trees are full of birds and bats, so be a little cautious when wandering around the lake in the early evening.
We may or may not have been pooped on. It’s meant to be good luck, right…!?
We all really loved Kandy. It was such a lovely way to finish off our time in Sri Lanka.
We farewelled our homestay hosts and their wonderful driver Dasa, who looked after us whilst we were there and taught us many Sri Lankan words and phrases during our time in the back of his tuk tuk.
Thanks for the incredible memories Sri Lanka.
We will always remember your beautiful beaches, diverse countryside, scrumptious roti, colourful towns, train journeys and your kind, smiling people.
“Bohoma Istuti” (Thank you very much) and so long.