Train Ride in Sri Lanka’s hill country is a breathtaking region known for its misty mountains, cascading waterfalls, and lush tea plantations. Nestled amidst this natural splendor is a train journey that has captured the hearts of travelers from around the world: the scenic route from Kandy to Ella. While this train journey remains relatively undiscovered by many, it offers an enchanting experience through some of Sri Lanka’s most stunning landscapes.
As you embark on this unforgettable adventure, you’ll find yourself immersed in a picturesque tapestry of rolling hills, emerald-green tea fields, and quaint villages. The train journey from Kandy to Ella is renowned for its panoramic views, allowing you to witness the true beauty of Sri Lanka’s hill country.
One of the iconic highlights of the journey is the Nine Arch Bridge, a marvel of engineering nestled in the verdant hills near Ella. This architectural gem is an Instagram-worthy spot that captivates visitors as they witness the train gracefully passing through its arches. The bridge perfectly blends with the surrounding natural beauty, creating a surreal and awe-inspiring sight.
1. Planning Your Journey
a. Best Time To Visit Sri Lanka
To make the most of your train journey from Kandy to Ella, it’s important to consider the best time to visit. The ideal seasons for this journey are generally during the dry months, which are from December to March and July to September. During these periods, you are more likely to enjoy clear skies and uninterrupted views of the picturesque landscapes along the route.
b. Booking Train Tickets in Sri Lanka
Securing train tickets for the Kandy to Ella journey can be a bit challenging, especially during peak tourist seasons. It is advisable to book your tickets well in advance to ensure availability. Tickets can be purchased at train stations or through online platforms. Keep in mind that first-class and observation car seats tend to sell out quickly, so plan accordingly and book early.
c. Choosing the Seating Class
The train from Kandy to Ella offers different seating classes, each with its own advantages. Here’s a brief overview of the available classes:
I. Second Class
This is the most common class, offering basic seating arrangements with open windows. Second class allows you to experience the journey in a more authentic and local style, with the opportunity to interact with fellow passengers.
II. First Class
First-class compartments provide a more comfortable and spacious seating arrangement compared to second class. They often have cushioned seats and large windows, offering better views of the passing landscapes.
III. Observation Car (if available)
Some trains may have an observation car, which offers panoramic windows and an elevated vantage point for uninterrupted views. This is considered the most desirable class for the Kandy to Ella journey, providing an immersive experience of the breathtaking scenery.
Consider your preferences and budget when choosing your seating class for the journey.
2. Train Route Highlights
a. Departure from Kandy
The journey begins in the vibrant city of Kandy, nestled amidst rolling hills and lush greenery. As the train departs from the Kandy Railway Station, you’ll immediately be greeted by picturesque views. The train chugs through the outskirts of the city, passing by local neighborhoods and small villages. Keep your camera ready as you capture glimpses of everyday life in Sri Lanka’s hill country.
b. Tea Country Vistas
As the train ventures deeper into the heart of Sri Lanka’s hill country, you’ll be treated to mesmerizing landscapes and sprawling tea plantations. The mist-covered mountains and terraced hills adorned with vibrant green tea bushes create a truly enchanting scene. The train weaves its way through the famous Tea Country, offering panoramic views of the meticulously manicured tea estates that stretch as far as the eye can see. Take in the serene beauty and immerse yourself in the tranquility of this captivating region.
c. Nine Arch Bridge
One of the highlights of the journey is the iconic Nine Arch Bridge, located near Ella. This architectural marvel is an absolute delight for both train enthusiasts and nature lovers. As the train approaches the bridge, the anticipation builds. The Nine Arch Bridge stands tall amidst the dense forest, a testament to Sri Lanka’s rich history and engineering prowess. The sight of the train crossing this magnificent bridge is nothing short of magical, and it has become an Instagram hotspot for travelers seeking that perfect shot. Take your time to admire the bridge’s arches, which blend harmoniously with the surrounding landscape, creating a postcard-worthy scene.
d. Arrival in Ella
The final destination of this awe-inspiring train journey is the charming town of Ella. Nestled amidst misty mountains, Ella offers a tranquil and laid-back atmosphere that is perfect for unwinding and soaking in the natural beauty. After disembarking from the train, take some time to explore Ella’s attractions, such as Little Adam’s Peak or Ella Rock, which offer stunning views of the surrounding hills and valleys. The town itself is known for its quaint cafes, local handicraft shops, and welcoming guesthouses. Indulge in the delicious Sri Lankan cuisine, interact with friendly locals, and immerse yourself in the relaxed vibes of this hill country gem.
Allow yourself to be captivated by the breathtaking sights and experiences along the Kandy to Ella train journey. From the departure in Kandy with its initial scenic views to the tea country vistas that stretch for miles, the iconic Nine Arch Bridge, and the charming town of Ella, this train ride promises to be an unforgettable adventure through Sri Lanka’s hill country.
3. Insider Tips for a Memorable Experience
a. Selecting the Best Train Car
Choosing the right train car can significantly enhance your experience during the Kandy to Ella journey. Here are some suggestions for the best spots to sit for optimal views:
I. Window Seats
Window Seats: Opt for a seat by the window to enjoy uninterrupted views of the picturesque landscapes. The open windows allow you to feel the cool breeze and capture stunning photographs along the way.
II. Observation Car (if available)
If the train has an observation car, it is highly recommended to secure a seat in this section. The panoramic windows and elevated position provide unparalleled views of the surrounding scenery. However, keep in mind that these seats are in high demand, so try to book them in advance or arrive early to secure a spot.
b. Packing Essential
To ensure a comfortable and enjoyable journey, it’s essential to pack the right essentials. Consider including the following items.
I. Layers of Clothing
Sri Lanka’s hill country can experience fluctuating temperatures, so it’s advisable to dress in layers. Bring a light jacket or sweater to keep warm during cooler sections of the journey.
II. Comfortable Shoes
The train journey involves some walking and standing, especially if you plan to explore attractions along the way. Wear comfortable shoes that are suitable for walking and provide good support.
III. Snacks and Water
While there may be food vendors on the train, it’s a good idea to pack some snacks and a water bottle for the journey. This ensures you have something to munch on and stay hydrated throughout the trip.
c. Photography Opportunities
The Kandy to Ella train journey presents countless photography opportunities. Here are some tips to capture stunning photographs:
I. Capture the Landscapes
Keep your camera ready as the train passes through picturesque landscapes. Look for interesting angles, leading lines, and vibrant colors to compose your shots.
II. Timing is Key
Pay attention to the lighting conditions. The early morning or late afternoon light can add a soft, golden glow to the scenery, enhancing the overall visual impact of your photographs.
III. Include People and Local Life
Don’t forget to capture the human element. Photograph fellow passengers, train staff, and the locals going about their daily lives. These candid shots can add depth and storytelling to your photographic journey.
d. Snacks and Refreshments
While the train journey offers a unique experience, it’s a good idea to pack some snacks and refreshments to keep you fueled throughout the trip. Here are a few suggestions:
I. Fruits and Energy Bars
Pack some fresh fruits or energy bars to keep your energy levels up during the journey.
II. Bottled Water
Stay hydrated by carrying a bottle of water with you. It’s important to drink plenty of fluids, especially during warmer weather.
III. Local Snacks
Embrace the local flavors by trying some Sri Lankan snacks. Grab a packet of crispy murukku or savory samosas from local vendors at the train stations.
By following these insider tips, you’ll be well-prepared for a memorable and enjoyable train journey from Kandy to Ella. From selecting the best train car and packing the right essentials to capturing stunning photographs and enjoying delicious snacks, these tips will enhance your overall experience along the way.
4. Side Excursions and Activities
a. Exploring Ella
Ella is a charming town that offers a myriad of attractions and activities for visitors. Here are some popular recommendations:
I. Little Adam’s Peak
Embark on a scenic hike to Little Adam’s Peak, which offers panoramic views of the surrounding mountains and tea plantations. The relatively easy trail makes it accessible for most travelers.
II. Ella Rock
For more adventurous hikers, Ella Rock is a must-visit. The trail takes you through lush forests and rocky terrains, rewarding you with breathtaking views of the countryside from the summit.
III. Ravana Falls
Make a stop at Ravana Falls, one of Sri Lanka’s most famous waterfalls. Enjoy the refreshing mist as the cascading water creates a stunning natural spectacle. You can even take a dip in the natural pools at the base of the falls.
b. Hiking Options
Besides the famous Ella hikes, there are other nearby hiking trails and viewpoints that cater to the adventurous traveler:
I. Demodara Loop
This circular hike takes you through tea plantations, villages, and the iconic Demodara Nine Arch Bridge. The loop offers a diverse range of landscapes and cultural experiences.
II. Horton Plains National Park
A short drive from Ella, Horton Plains National Park is home to the famous World’s End viewpoint. The trail takes you to a dramatic cliff edge with panoramic views of the surrounding hills and valleys.
C. Tea Plantation Visits
No visit to Sri Lanka’s hill country is complete without a visit to a tea plantation. Consider exploring these tea estates and factories to learn about the tea-making process:
I. Halpewatte Tea Factory
Located near Ella, Halpewatte Tea Factory offers guided tours where you can witness the tea production process firsthand. Gain insights into the art of tea processing and savor a cup of freshly brewed Ceylon tea.
II. Bluefield Tea Gardens
Take a tour of Bluefield Tea Gardens, situated amidst lush green hills. Learn about the history of tea cultivation in the region, stroll through the tea fields, and enjoy panoramic views of the surrounding landscape.
d. Waterfalls and Nature Spots
The hill country is blessed with numerous waterfalls and natural attractions. Here are a few worth visiting:
I. Diyaluma Falls
Embark on a journey to Diyaluma Falls, the second-highest waterfall in Sri Lanka. Enjoy the breathtaking views as the cascading water plunges into natural pools, perfect for a refreshing swim.
II. Bambarakanda Falls
Venture to Bambarakanda Falls, the highest waterfall in Sri Lanka. Surrounded by lush greenery, the waterfall creates a picturesque scene, and the nearby trails offer opportunities for exploration.
Take advantage of these side excursions and activities to make the most of your time in and around Ella. From exploring the town’s attractions to hiking in the beautiful landscapes, visiting tea plantations, and discovering stunning waterfalls, there’s no shortage of adventures and experiences to enhance your journey in Sri Lanka’s hill country.
5. Safety and Etiquette
a. Safety Precautions
While embarking on the train journey from Kandy to Ella, it’s important to keep safety in mind. Here are some key reminders for a safe and enjoyable trip:
1. Mind the Gaps
Be cautious when boarding and alighting from the train, as there may be gaps between the platform and the train. Watch your step and hold onto handrails for support.
II. Secure Your Belongings
Keep a close eye on your belongings throughout the journey. It’s advisable to keep your valuables, such as passports, wallets, and electronic devices, secure and within reach.
III. Beware of Open Windows and Doors
Although open windows provide great views, exercise caution to avoid leaning too far outside. Ensure that children are supervised to prevent accidents.
IV. Emergency Exits and Procedures
Familiarize yourself with the location of emergency exits and pay attention to any safety instructions provided by the train staff.
b. Cultural Sensitivity
Respecting local customs and etiquette is crucial to ensure a positive cultural experience during your train journey. Here are some tips to keep in mind:
I. Dress Modestly
Sri Lanka is a predominantly conservative country, and it’s advisable to dress modestly, especially when visiting religious sites or traveling through local communities. Opt for clothing that covers your shoulders and knees.
II. Greet Locals with Respect
Sri Lankans are known for their warm hospitality. Greet locals with a smile and use polite greetings, such as “Ayubowan” (hello) and “Vanakkam” (greetings), to show respect.
III. Avoid Public Displays of Affection
In Sri Lankan culture, public displays of affection are generally frowned upon. Maintain appropriate behavior and avoid any gestures that may be considered offensive or disrespectful.
IV. Ask for Permission
If you wish to take photographs of individuals or religious sites, it’s respectful to seek permission first. Some places may have restrictions on photography, so it’s important to ask before capturing any images.
V. Follow Customs at Religious Sites
If you visit temples or other religious sites along the journey, observe the customs and rules. Remove your shoes and hat before entering sacred areas, and be mindful of any dress codes or restrictions.
By adhering to these safety precautions and practicing cultural sensitivity, you can ensure a smooth and respectful journey through Sri Lanka’s hill country. Enjoy the train ride while immersing yourself in the rich cultural heritage of the region.
a. Recap the Highlights
The train journey from Kandy to Ella is truly a remarkable experience that showcases the stunning beauty of Sri Lanka’s hill country. Let’s recap the highlights that make this journey so special:
I. Scenic Landscapes
From the departure in Kandy to the tea country vistas and the iconic Nine Arch Bridge, the train route is adorned with breathtaking landscapes that will leave you in awe.
II. Charming Ella
The journey concludes in the enchanting town of Ella, where you can explore popular attractions, embark on scenic hikes, and indulge in the serene beauty of the surroundings.
III. Tea Plantations and Waterfalls
The opportunity to visit tea estates, witness the tea-making process, and discover magnificent waterfalls adds to the allure of this train journey.
b. Encourage Readers to Embark on the Journey
Embarking on the Kandy to Ella train journey is an experience like no other. The captivating views, cultural encounters, and the chance to immerse yourself in Sri Lanka’s hill country make it an unforgettable adventure. Here’s why you should consider this journey:
I. Unparalleled Beauty
The train journey offers vistas that seem straight out of a postcard, with emerald-green tea plantations, mist-covered mountains, and cascading waterfalls that will take your breath away.
II. Cultural Delights
Along the way, you’ll have the chance to interact with friendly locals, learn about tea production, and witness everyday life in Sri Lanka’s hill country, providing a deeper understanding of the country’s rich heritage.
III. Memorable Moments
From capturing stunning photographs to savoring local snacks, the Kandy to Ella train journey presents countless opportunities to create cherished memories that will stay with you long after the trip.
So, pack your bags, book your train tickets, and embark on this unforgettable journey through Sri Lanka’s hill country. Let the rhythmic clatter of the train, the breathtaking landscapes, and the warmth of the local culture transport you to a world of natural beauty and serenity. Get ready for an experience that will leave an indelible mark on your travel adventures.