Sri Lanka: Ella by train

Said to be one of the best train travel in the world. I confirm it was the highest point of our 2 weeks in Sri Lanka, and certainly our best train travel.

Entering this old train that will take us up and down the hills feels like time travelling. Ella, a small train station, revealed to be a stunning place to fully enjoy for a few days.

Get into the train 🙂

No guide advised us to reserve train tickets far in advance, so when I arrived at Kandy, 3 days before the train travel, I tried to do so. But all reserved seats were sold out. I was determined to go anyway, taking a conventional ticket and certainly got surprised by the enormous amount of people in the station by the time of the train.

First struggling to get in the train, pushed by the crowd. Once inside the train, squeezed,  I felt that shouldn’t be the way to make that trip. So I struggled again – probably even worse – to get out. Without a better plan than to try it differently, I saw the “dream train” depart from the station.

I got lucky … I was able to buy some reserved tickets for the next train (someone that gave up going…or didn’t match the hour in advance to get the tickets). Second try, a very different story: I entered our seated places close to the window. Now I was ready. Our advice is not to count on luck, and reserve your tickets in advance (through an agency, as the railway don’t sell them online).

Amazing train journey

In our Sri Lanka overview post, this trip appears as the top thing I loved. I had a lot of expectations, and it didn’t disappoint!

When the train slowly leaves the station… I felt our mind embarking on this magical journey, through space and time. I saw the city get smaller as the train gains speed and gradually all become green around us.  

Breathtaking landscape as I go up the mountain, the mist embraces the trees as you go up, sometimes finding the sun above the clouds. As the train follows its path, outlining the hills, you feel the excitement to see what’s behind the next turn. Magic forest alters with small human presence marking the landscape here and there. Amazing tea plantations snake up and down the hills.

The peace of the surrounding contrasts with the excitement of the stops. The unrest of people willing to enter and find a sit; street vendors calling your attention from the window! You can buy different stuff from your window; try some traditional food; and try the roasted peanuts. Sold already without its shell, inside paper bags built on old school notebooks. Best peanuts I’ve tasted, ever. I can still remember the taste!

Take the time to look around, read the stories of the locals travelling with you. And realize you’re in the real world; they are not making a scenario for you 😉

And don’t forget to take the typical photo hanging from the door of the train. Everyone does that, for some reason… you’ll regret it if you resist!

Arrive at Ella

The small train station hides a genuine community, a mix of locals and tourists, that didn’t lose authenticity: Ella is a small magic village embraced by the hills. 

I stayed for 2 nights at Ella, enjoyed the mountains and rented a scooter to discover the surroundings and it worth it!

Our circuit was: the first day, spend the morning at Little Adams’s Peak and the afternoon discovering the rain trail and the seven arches bridge. The second day, spend the morning riding down A23, a beautiful street trapped between the mountains,  until Ravan Falls, exploring the beauty around; end your day with a Lion bear in a nice bar at Ella centre. You deserve it!

Don’t miss our next post with Ella surroundings.


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