Reading Tea Leaves in Sri Lanka
The Lonely Planet description of Ella, Sri Lanka is that of a sleepy mountain village. The sleepy part is a bit of a stretch, but Ella is lovely nonetheless. Conveniently located on the train that takes you to the better known locations of Kandy and Nuwara Eliya, Ella is definitely becoming a hot little spot to spend a few days hiking and drinking tea.
While we didn’t see anyone practicing tasseography in town, there are a number of tea plantations on the outskirts of town that you can walk to or take a tuk tuk. In general, if you are looking to plan your activities while in Ella, just look around for the one page map and activity sheet that a number of the restaurants and hotels hand out. We got ours from a restaurant on the main street and used it as our guide. Easy Peasy. And from there….
Stay: many options, more than you will find in any guide book or online as they constantly being built. We stayed at the Rose Garden Inn, which is owned by relatives of the well-rated Little Folly and located just up the street. An absolutely lovely home stay it was! Eating breakfast and dinner there every night was a great decision, if we do say so ourselves.
Eat: Well, as I just said, we mainly ate at our homestay, but the main little street has some decent looking spots. We had some good food at a little cafe after hiking. More on Sri Lankan food later, promise.
Do: hike! We did Little Adam’s Peak and Ella’s Rock on 2 different days. For Little Adam’s Peak, it is very easy to get there and there are cafes to stop at along the way. After we reached the peak, we gave in to the signs posted by 98 Acres Resort and had a drink and snack. If you have a little extra cash to spare, the views at 98 Acres are reason alone to stay there! Not that the views from Little Adam’s Peak are shabby!
For Ella’s Rock, you’re going to need a good part of the day (despite a lot of write ups that say its only 2 or 3 hours…). You actually get to walk down the train tracks, which was fun for us and let us see a bit of the local comings and goings. The path gets a little fuzzy once you are going through the tea plantation, but someone will be around to point you in the right direction (carry some small bills to give a tip!). From the top of Ella’s Rock, you can see the town and Little Adam’s Peak, which is pretty cool. Not as many places to stop on the way to and from the Rock though, so pack snacks.
Tea Plantations – We visited one tea plantation, located near 98 Acres Resort. I’d definitely recommend doing one tour while you are in the area, but I can’t imagine the tours really vary that much. You get to walk around the tea processing factory and learn about the process, which is interesting, then you drink some fresh green tea. Nothing too wild, but I guess its a ‘must do’ when you are in tea country.
Waterfalls – there are a number of waterfalls in the area, some that you can walk to, some require a tuk tuk. You could have walked to the falls we went to see, but it would have taken a couple of hours on a busy road, which isn’t too appealing. The falls were cool though!
Despite the fact that this little devil and his friends that were hanging around: