It is quite easy to get to the mountainous central part of Sri Lanka: by train from Colombo or by bus from the south.
It took us around 7 hours to get to a small town Ella from Unawatuna, with a quick and painless transfer in Matara city. We went without any information on bus schedules, once again ascertaining that traveling across Sri Lanka by bus 🚌 is a delight. For the entire route we paid around 300 rupees for a person ($2). Not bad, yeah.
At the beginning of the trip, we saw the usual landscapes through the window: the sea, coconut palms, and small villages. Then: hamlets, no sea, and fewer palm trees. Later: plus some mountains. Soon, we were on a serpentine road.
💭 I was immensely happy that we arrived in Sri Lanka after being trained by an even wilder bus driving style on the narrow, steeply winding roads of India.
In the mountains, the first thing that caught our eyes were the houses hanging over the cliffs. One of each house's edges abutted the highway, while the others rested on poles (often wooden).
And the most impressive were the trading tents made of wood and oilcloth, with the back wall fluttering in the wind.
💭 Imagine a salesgirl at such a trading tent ⛺. She is sitting on a chair 🪑.
20 centimeters behind her is the edge of a precipice. It's 500-meters deep.
Well, she doesn't care 💅🏽
We found accommodation in Ella swiftly, which is commonly the case in small touristy places. For 2000 rupees ($16) we got a large & comfy room, a gorgeous view from the window, and free Wi-Fi. (And very tasty food in the hotel's restaurant.)
We also got the first rain in six months (later on, we were getting it every day after lunch). As a whole, it was a pure joy.
There were no problems with food either. The choice of fruits and vegetables was less varied than in Unawatuna, but the prices were lower.
🙀 Tomatoes for 20 rupees a kilo 🙀
Overall, we missed the comfort we found there afterwards.
People mainly come to Ella to walk in the surrounding area. It is assumed that a visitor wants to see Ravana Falls (named after Ravana from Ramayana) and Ella Rock.
To get to Ravana Falls, take any bus downhill (10 rupees per person). After getting off, take a path uphill on the right side. The path isn't always easy to notice, but leads the persistent ones to the waterfall.
The water from the fall is collected and sent through pipes, apparently to supply water to local residents.
We didn't hike to Ella Rock since it was a bit muddy because of the daily rain. But we wandered around. If you want to hike to it, walk along the train tracks.
No worries! The train is very loud; hence, it's impossible to miss it.
(All in all, the railroad is a kind of additional road for everyone.)
After the bridge, on the left, there is another small waterfall. Go to it.
There is a bridge across the waterfall. After crossing the bridge, take the path to the right. It leads uphill to Ella Rock.
We went to the left and down instead and got into someone's yard 🙃. We were led out onto the sidewalk – the stairs! – and we walked down.
💭 Imagine the children living there and being regularly sent by their parents to run down to the shop.
⚠️ Be sure to wear hiking shoes and clothing on these walks.
Remember to cover your legs! Otherwise, you can become food for leeches.
Leech bites aren't dangerous (except for a possible allergic reaction), it's just that the experience isn't pleasant per se.
If a leech is attached, one can wait until it falls off on its own or drop lemon juice on it (bring the lemon 🤷🏻♂️).
Since leeches inject a substance that prevents blood clotting, it's normal for a wound to slightly bleed longer than usual. Pour disinfectant over the wound and plaster it (bring the materials 🤷🏻♂️).
I hope it didn't sound too scary 😇 Take care!