The hill country in Sri Lanka is known for the good thinking trails along the hills and that was one of the reasons why we chose to stay in Ella for a few nights on our trip. That is, even though you can hardly call it hiking what we did. There are two popular routes near Ella that are recommended for those passing by this little town up the hills – Ella Rock and Little Adam’s Peak. And of course, we had to try them both.
Little Adam’s Peak
On our first day in Ella, we decided to go and check out the path leading to Little Adam’s Peak. THe path there is a short and easy one, in two hours we made it to the top and back to the own. Can’t even say it was a workout, more of a pleasant stroll, despite the few steep steps we had to take close to the top. But the views, they were breathtaking, even on a cloudy day. From the top, you get a good view over the Ella gap that opens in front of your eyes. The green rolling hills disappear into the clouds, the little settlements on the hills and the little roads at the bottom of the valley actually make up quite a sight even though the visibility is not the best one. On a sunny day the views are spectacular – we were told,with the green hills, blue sky and the coast looming in the horizon.. All we could do is use our imagination, but secretly we are hoping that on the next day we get to witness the same view, but from slightly higher. The next day was booked for a walk up the Ella Rock that was waiting for us on the other side of the valley.
The bigger, the greater. Ella Rock was the one we were told we did not want to miss. So on the second day in Ella, we set off early in the morning and started the walk towards this peak. During breakfast on the terrace, we admired the views dominated by the peak, the sun was shining and I really could not wait to get up and witness the amazing views myself.
Prior to our holiday, I had read from several sources that in order to reach the top, it is advisable to book a guide, although it might be possible to find your way up without one. After asking around, we decided to opt for a guide and booked one from the hotel for a price of 2000 rupees (14€). Honestly, for a private guide for four hours it seemed reasonable as that way we could focus on the views, not stress about taking the right turn.
Looking back, I’m sure we would have found our way up rather easily as there were several people walking the same path. But I still thing having a guide was worth the money as our guide turned out to be a nice local student who was eager to point us different thing around the path. We learned a lot about the Sri Lankan nature – the plants and the animals, and heard several new things about the country and its history.
For the first half an hour we walked along the tracks, hopping aside when trains passed by. After that we passed the top of a waterfall, walked in the middle of tea plantation, walked along a rocky path in the forest, admired the views and listened to our guide teach us interesting things along the way. After about 45minutes of walking, the path started to go up steeper and steeper. Soon, I realized we were walking in a cloud – the visibility had gone down and the high rising trees disappeared into the white mass. Somehow, the whole sight seemed unreal.
We continued upwards, the path became steeper and more challenging. Wet rocks, mud, high steps – you really needed to careful not to miss your step or things would end up badly. Walking in high altitude up a steep hill made the breathing challenging and soon I noticed I had to take little breaks every now and then. At one point, as I was leaning on a tree our guide mentioned that a leopard was once seen here.. GULP! Not really something I wanted to hear. Somehow, after that it was easy to pick up the pace a bit, imagining a leopard watching us behind gave that extra kick yo keep on walking fast..
But, as you can imagine, the higher we got,the poorer the visibility became and as our guide stated that we have reached the peak after a little less than 1,5hours after the departure, all we could see is some rocks and a thick white wall behind that. We saw a few other people sitting on the rocks, some locals were selling beverages and snacks to the tourists a bit further away next to the trees. Although we had seen this coming after walking in the clouds for almost 30 minutes, I was disappointed. We could only see some tens of meters ahead, and it was really hard to imagine the amazing views. We sat down, hoping the clouds would soon disappear, while chatting with other tourists who had found their way up. After sitting on the rocks for an hour or so, we decided to give up, the locals had told that it most likely would not get any better soon, and we decided to believe them and start our decent, returning to our hotel just under 4 hours after our departure.
Even if I was a bit disappointed after not witnessing the great views across the Ella gap from neither of the peaks we walked up to, I was happy we did them, especially the Ella Rock. Sure, we did not get the views, but got the long needed exercise on a long trip, learned heaps of new things about Sri Lanka and its nature. And of course, we also might just have gotten some valuable tips for future trips from other people we met on the top. So, all in all, this was a pleasant way of spending one morning in Sri Lanka and I’d highly recommend trying your luck with the views if you happen to go to Ella one day.