After spending two weeks relaxing and sunbathing by the beach towns of Sri Lanka, we headed uphill to the highlands. The mountainous area is located at the center of Sri Lanka and the high altitudes make the temperatures on this tropical island much more bearable (25°C). We were excited to escape the heat by the beach (35°C) and go for some hiking after doing almost nothing but relaxing the past two weeks. I guess we needed some time off after Iran before shifting gears and becoming super tourists again.
After spending the best part of 4 hours standing in an overcrowded local bus playing annoyingly loud karaoke-ecstasy Sri Lankan music (like they all seem to do) we finally arrived in Ella, a quiet little mountain village situated 1300 m above sea level. We felt so relieved, the atmosphere was relaxed and this village may well be one’s definition of paradise; the color green doesn’t seem to get any greener than here and waterfalls spring from the tea covered mountain hills.
The village is flanked on both sides by two beautiful mountains, Ella Rock and Little Adams Peak. They both looked equally tempting, so we decided to take on both peaks. On our first day we headed for Ella Rock, en elevation of about 1000 m …easy 😉
After having some delicious kottu for breakfast, a popular Sri Lankan fast food made of shredded roti (pancake), vegetables, eggs, cheese and spices, we headed to the railway tracks where our hike began. It was a beautiful sunny morning and as we walked on the tracks we met a lot of happy students in cute little school uniforms on their way to school in Ella from the nearby villages.
We had a schematic map of the route which we found on tripadvisor but it is still quite easy to get lost. If you do loose your way just ask the locals (some will offer to lead the whole way for a few bucks). After walking for a while on the rail tracks, over an old metal bridge, past a waterfall, through fields of tea plantations and tall trees we finally made it to the top. Even though the scenery was drop dead amazing the journey itself was equally pleasing.
Day 2, next up was Little Adams Peak, but we decided to take a detour and visit the Nine Arch Bridge first, a 100 year old bridge, built entirely of solid rocks, bricks and cement without using a single piece of steel. The first glimpse of this massive viaduct was fairytale-like. A local selling bananas on the bridge offered us to visit his small café in the hillside, promising us the best view over the bridge.
We accepted his offer and had the best ginger tea and some crackers. His menu wasn’t more complex than that, but his whole family took part in welcoming us with a smile. They asked if we could paint a sign for them in english to advertise the café from the railway tracks below. Ása did her best and they seemed delighted with the results. Its such a rewarding feeling to be able to help once in a while with your own hands.
After some more tea and crackers, the owner’s son, lead us through a shortcut to Little Adams Peak, with equally stunning views as the day before. These two hikes turned out to be a valuable exercise in getting our bodies ready for Sri Lanka’s tallest mountain, namely Adams Peak, an adventure featured in our next blog.
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