At an elevation of just over 1000 meters, far away from the hustle and bustle of the coastal areas packed with tourist spots is a place where I found the place I liked most in Sri Lanka. Ella, a small village on the hill country is a place with beautiful views, lovely climate and relaxed athmosphere. It was a place where already on the first night it was easy to feel relaxed and happy.
Although the coastal areas were not to my liking in many ways, Ella was something else. It was a place where two days went by faster than I wanted, a place of which I had to say afterwards I was really happy we visited.
The Hill country in Sri Lanka is remarkably beautiful – the green rolling hills full of tea plantations, the high peaks covered with trees, the blue sky and the sunshine that makes the beautiful views that open up in the most unexpected places. Seeing it all and just strolling along different paths to viewpoints and other points of interest just really made me love the place.
After the striking heat of the coast, arriving to the hill country was more than pleasant. The temperatures ranging between 23 and 25 celsius in early January made sure the air felt fresh and refreshing – together with sunshine this was the best combination in a place where you are planning on mainly walking up and down the hills, although the clouds rolled in quite often. However, as we stopped at the Rawana Falls on the way, our driver mentioned that he could not live in the hill country, that even three days would be too much. The reason? It was too cold for him being used to the heat of the coast. Again, this was a good reminder that your body and mind actually do get used to pretty much anything – I mean, it is not that rare for people to die because of the cold weather in asia when the temperatures drop below 15 degrees.
Ella is more than perfect for a quick stop and to get closer to nature after or before heading to the coast. Despite the small town is a rather popular destination among the active tourists who want to include some outdoor activities on their Sri Lankan tour, the town does not feel as touristy as the places we visited on the coast. Instead, it manages to feel somehow authentic, despite a large number of small hotels around the town. Here, you get to walk in peace on the street without anyone trying to make you buy something from them. The town center stretches along a small road, no longer that over just some hundred meters. The center is lined with small restaurants and inns, here and there are small shops, but not many of those offering souvenirs or other type of c*ap for the tourists. Here, locals and tourists mix together on a small but busy center area. Here, it is all about tea, not tourists.
Ella is a prefect destination for an active tourist wanting to get closer to the nature. Here you’ll find several walking tracks that take you around the hills and tea plantations, to places where beautiful sights just suddenly open up out of the blue after walking in thick bushes. It is not a place where there is plenty to do for several days, but the two days we had went by faster than I wanted.
During the two days we visited a tea factory and learned all about the making of tea. We walked on the beautiful nine arches bridge, admiring the views while wondering how many combinations a group of 9 chinese can make in front of one camera. We walked in forests and in the middle of tea plantations. We went up the hills to viewpoints. Surprisingly often we found ourselves walking on the railway tracks, making way to the occasional trains passing by. We sat on different cafes admiring the beautiful nature. And more than anything, we were constantly thinking how great it was we actually found our way to Ella.