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Sri Lanka - Ella

The land of breath-taking landscapes.

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The long drive to Ella was made more comfortable as we shared our mini bus with a young friendly couple. We shared stories, good and bad, of our travels so far. The terrain was flat up until about ten kilometres away from Ella when the roads started to wind considerably as it traversed the lofty hillsides. We would hold our breath and grabs the seat in front with white knuckles as we overtook the slower, larger traffic on the way up with only inches between us and the sheer drop below!

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We could see in the distance a magnificent waterfall as the minibus weaved in and out of the highland. As we neared, the scale became clear. Luckily, we drove right past the foot of the waterfall and the driver asked if we would like to stop to take a better look. Eagerly we jumped out and stood at the at the bottom and looked up. Easily over one hundred feet high with thousands of gallons of water flowing over the ridge the magnificence was breath-taking and was to set a precedence for what to expect from Ella. After a few shots we proceeded on to the town a few more kilometres further.
We had read the town centre was a bit of a backpacker haven and knew what this translated to. Youngsters being youngsters! So we booked a hotel a little out of town. (Read further up the mountainside.) On arrival we couldn’t believe our eyes.
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Our guest house had only two apartments. With a balcony that overlooked a huge and beautiful valley with yet another waterfall opposite, a picturesque railway snaked around the valley passing below our guesthouse. This has to be one of the most beautiful places on Earth. We could feel our souls reinvigorating from our surroundings.

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The next day we ventured out to see what we could find. Ella is over a thousand feet above sea level so the air was cooler but the humidity was draining. We walked a couple of kilometres to a place called Little Adams Peak, a mountain top point with stunning views. Certainly not for the faint hearted, it was a very precarious path that required serious climbing skills with sheer drops either side. However, once we arrived we could see why the effort was worth it. Never have I witnessed such spectacular vastness. Really puts things into perspective.

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We walked down through a tea plantation to head for the famous Nine Arch Bridge. Stopping along the way at a café selling fruit smoothies to take aerial photos of the imminent train. Masses of people congregated along the bridge and we were worried for their well being until we saw the train and realised that there’s plenty of time to get to safety.
The trains that use the railway in Ella are slow and infrequent and will sound their presence to any unsuspecting track walkers. After our visit to the bridge we took a long and enchanting walk through the nearby tunnel and along the tracks back to our guest house.

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The following day we caught the train to Haputale, Famous for its miles of tea plantations. From the station we took a rickshaw up through the mountainside, so high in fact we were above the clouds that had gathered over the fields of tea bushes.

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After nearly an hour of ascending and walking the last kilometre to the peak we finally arrived at Liptons Seat, a favourite look-outpoint for Sir Thomas Lipton. The godfather of tea. However, by the time we got to the summit the clouds had risen so much that we couldn’t see anything! Just a blanket of white everywhere! (We should have gone earlier!)
From here we decided that we would walk the four kilometres back down through the tea bushes to the bus stop to catch a bus back in to Haputale.

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The bus appeared to be built of holes held together by rust! A very exhilarating but scary ride back down the mountainside saw us back at the station to catch our train home.

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The following day we went to climb Ella Rock. we woke up before sunrise and was treated to a spectacular concert of colour. (After this we would often wake up early enough to catch a sunrise. A truly beautiful display and like nothing we have ever seen before!)
After breakfast we set off for our climb. It took over four very sweaty and exhausting hours to reach the peak. Many touts at the foot of the mountain would try and steer us the wrong way in an attempt to ply some trade. But we had done our homework and knew how to get there.
The views from the peak overlooking Ella were nothing short of astonishing and worth the sweat and tears to get there. There was even a Buddhist shrine. The Buddhists certainly like to make work for themselves!

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The would-be mountaineers and young Instagram'ers were vying to sit on the hazardous outcrop of rock and take the breath-taking photo overlooking the valley. Of course we did too!
Ella is without a shadow of doubt one of the most beautiful places on Earth. We will definitely come back one day.

Link to our Ella Gallery here.

Posted by philosipha 21:16 Archived in Sri Lanka Tagged waterfalls mountains shrine

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