Ella – Trip to the Highlands

Posted by ross

15.5.2010 – 19.05.2010

We decided to take the train from Kandy to Ella; we had read from several books that this train ride through the highlands and tea plantations is very spectacular and a must do. We weren’t disappointed: that old train, on these over one hundred year old train tracks, slowly climbing it’s way up into the hills through the spectacular country side was a special and wonderful experience.

trainToTheHighlands

 

The trains are often quiet full, so with slow moving trains it seems to be great sport to hang out of the train. As we gained elevation the temperature dropped from 30+ C to a very pleasant 18 C, which gave the children and a few grown-ups a chance to try on their winter fleece jackets and caps. Winking smile It seemed funny to us but in Colombo, where they came from, it never gets below 28 C all year round.

highlands_people_hanging_from_train children_winter_cloths upto_the_highlands

teaPickers

Tamil Tea Pickers

ross_train

peopleWalkingTracksPeople walking on the tracks

 

Actually, although a bit dangerous walking on the train tracks, it is a more direct and quicker way to get from one point to another. All along the train route we frequently saw people walking the tracks. We thought they were crazy but the trains generally travel very slow and you have plenty of time to get off the tracks. We actually used the tracks as well to get from one part of Ella to the other.

 

ella_signpost

We finally arrived in Ella 3 hours later than scheduled.  The journey that normally should have taken 5 hours had taken 8 hours to complete. This, as we found out later, was not that unusual. The problem is, there is only one set of tracks on the route from Kandy to Badulla.  This means that both, coming and going trains, have to wait at designated stations along the way to allow for the other train to safely pass.

My only concern was for the driver, who we had arranged with Karen, to meet us there.  Had he waited the 3 hours or had he received information that our train was late and done something else in the mean while? I was feeling a bit guilty that I hadn’t called Karen from the train to give her a heads-up that we were running so late.

The train station in Ella is very small and the driver found us without any difficulty and tourists do tend to stand out Smile. One small problem arose leaving the station: the gate attendants wanted our tickets.  This was of course unacceptable for Christel, who wanted to keep them as a memento of our trip, however, we had no choice but to hand the tickets back.  Angry smileTo our surprise a few minutes after we had left, the driver came up to us with the stamped as cancelled tickets in his hand.  I’m not sure how he had arranged it but Christel was very happy. Open-mouthed smile

 

Our journey from the train station to the Waterfalls Home Stay was by Tuc Tuc. With three people and our large backpacks there was just too much weight to climb the first big hill, so Christel and I had to get out and walk until we reached a flat area and we could jump back in. We repeated that procedure a few times and enjoyed the little exercise Smile

Waterfalls Home-Stay

 

Waterfall-Homestay

What a wonderful home with three guest rooms, nestled in the jungle, away from roads and traffic with a stunning view of a waterfall.

When we arrived at the Waterfalls Home-Stay, Karen the owner, Martin her husband, their three dogs and young cat were all there to greet us. Smile We felt immediately at home.

There is something about the sound of a waterfall in the background. It is a little like the sound of the ocean surf, it is always there but the rhythms of the rushing water gives one the feeling of complete harmony. 

We both were able to completely relax after our long journey and the unexpected strenuous days in noisy Kandy.

 

The next morning we were spoiled by a spectacular breakfast prepared by Karen: 

Herbal soup, egg hoppers, buffalo curd and honey, a wide variety of fresh fruits,  coffee, tea and of course buttered toast and jelly.

We spend some leisurely time to digest the food, enjoy the waterfall … and at least get some laundry done.

Later we decided to become active again and hiked up to little Adam’s peak, a nice 3 h walk. In Ella a street dog decided to accompany us – which was fun. Apparently she knew the way better than we did because. whenever we would take the wrong fork in the trail, she would just sit and wait until we came back and took the right way Smile

townDog

The street dogs in Sri Lanka all look as if they came from the same family.  Somewhat small, usually they have light brown fur and very attractive features.

In general the street dogs are not aggressive to  tourist.

Dog face

 

 

 

17. May 2010

Red heart Mein Schatz wird heute 60 Jahre alt!  Red heart

 

 

ross_christel_landsend

We decided to start celebrating Ross’ 60th Birthday with a spectacular sunrise at “little world’s end”. Therefore we got up at 4:00am in the morning, the TucTuc was supposed to pick us up half an hour later and give us a ride to the view point. We waited almost an hour for the Tuc Tuc DevilEventually he showed up with an excuse – well, there was no way we would catch the sunrise but we went anyway.

 

 

TucTucDriverLanka our driver tuctucLankaTuc Tuc Lanka valleyFromLittleLandsEndView of Valley from Little Lands End

 

Lanka is the driver who Karen uses when guests need a Tuc Tuc and he was our driver/guide for our stay in Ella. He speaks English well and is generally very reliable, except the one time we mentioned above. He is an excellent guide of the area and  reasonably priced.

After we returned from our “sunrise” trip, another outstanding delicious breakfast was waiting for us. Karen added some extra effort to help celebrating Ross’ very special day.

 

BdayBreakfast

 

Again, Thank you Karen Left hugRight hugSmile

 

Later that afternoon, we just returned from our tea factory visit, an Australian family checked in and they gladly helped eating the delicious birthday cake, Karen made especially for Ross.

Karen&RossServingBdayCake

 

 

Later the next morning we all went for a hike to Ella Rock:

 

view_from_waterfall

This is a view from the top of the waterfall over looking our guest house. Karen and Martin really have a very special home.

 

 

 

 

 

 

ross&daveInJungle

We were glad having hired Lanka as our guide because the trail to the top of Ella Rock was not that easy to find especially with the high grass in some parts and trails running in every direction.

Lanka scared some grass snakes away. Too bad: we would have liked to get a glance of one.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

little_adams_peak

Here we are after climbing “Ella Rock” the highest peak in the area. We were all drenched in sweat after the hike up to the top.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

HappyToReachThe-Top

Ross, Nelson, David and Oliver all happy at the top. It has to be said that David’s sons had fewer problems reaching the top than us “Old Farts”.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

woman_washingOn the way down we came across a woman doing her laundry. She didn’t mind us sharing the water to cool off a bit (we didn’t drink the water !!)  

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