Ella is a small town in a stunning area of Sri Lanka and well worth a visit, especially if you enjoy hiking and seeing some downright breathtaking views. As soon as we reached Ella I was struck by how many western tourists there were – there are a lot of guest houses and home stays so it’s really popular with backpackers.
We stayed at 98Acres, an eco-hotel built on a tea plantation, and our room looked out over what was hands-down the best view from a hotel that I have ever had. I would stand out on the balcony for ages just watching all of the colourful birds flitting between the trees below and gazing out over Ella Rock, Little Adam’s Peak, and the rolling hills in the distance. We treated ourselves to a lovely spa treatment during our stay – the room looked out over the hills and they had the windows open so you could hear the birds too – so zen!
Little Adam’s Peak was just a short walk from our hotel so we actually climbed it on the first morning before breakfast while it was still fairly cool and not very busy. I keep banging on about the views but they were truly incredible and we could see the hotel which blends really nicely into the hillside (unlike some others).
After a large, and well-deserved post-walk breakfast we met our driver who took us to a viewpoint where you could see the Nine Arch Bridge, designed while Sri Lanka was still a British colony. We were lucky enough to see a train passing over it too.
Afterwards we went to see the Dowa temple, which a lot of tourists ignore, but it’s absolutely beautiful and had some of the most colourful interior paintings that we saw in Sri Lanka – I’m so glad we made the effort.
On the way back into Ella we stopped by the famous Rawana Ella Falls where people were taking selfies and some people were even having a dip in the water! Someone tried to sell me a rock from the river which I politely declined.
On our second day in Ella we decided to take on Ella Rock, a 12km and 4 hour round trip from our meeting point. Our driver had arranged a guide for us, Nalinda, who walked with us to the top. He was a really great guy and knew the best route and all the good viewpoints for photos. He took us to 2 lesser known viewpoints at the top which we wouldn’t have found otherwise. A little dog joined us early on in our hike and walked with us all the way to the top – so cute!
Once again, we definitely deserved our gigantic plateful of kothu roti and pint of Lion lager at Downtown Roti Hut when we got back to Ella! Kothu roti is one of my favourite Sri Lankan dishes and was actually pretty difficult to get our hands on outside of Ella. It’s not really eaten at lunch, and it wasn’t served in the hotels we stayed at. I guess this was of the perks of there being so many tourists in Ella! Downtown Roti Hut is part of a large building with a really good tea shop that I took some time mooching around.
The road from Ella up to our hotel wasn’t too long so we decided to walk back rather than ask our driver. On our way we came across Umbrella Art Cafe which was painted in really vibrant colours and served a range of food and drinks.
My favourite shop in Ella was Maya, selling really pretty, unique clothes and jewellery made in Sri Lanka. A great shop for gifts and souvenirs to take home!
I’m so glad we visited Ella even though there are so many tourists. You just have to see those views!