Into the mountains of Sri Lanka

Cover Exploring the mountains of Sri Lanka Darlings AbroadSri Lanka is an incredible cultural destination but what might surprise you is that it also has magnificent mountain to offer. When you visit the center of Sri Lanka, you’ll be stunned by its religious and natural wonders. These wonders can also be seen from one of the most scenic train rides of the world, the ride from Kandy to Ella. Read along to find out where to go for the best mountain views of Sri Lanka.

Counting the 5500 steps it took to get to the top of Adam's Peak.
Counting the 5500 steps it took to get to the top of Adam’s Peak.

TO DO

Hop on the scenic train ride to Ella// The train leaves from Kandy and takes you along a sightseeing journey to remember. You pass numerous tea plantations in which you’ll discover woman working hard to get the fresh produce to the factory. The train takes bend after bend by which it reveals a piece of Sri Lanka’s beauty after every curve. The best seats are not found in first class, they’re inside the open train doors of second and third. After the plantations, the train passes through the central highlands of Sri Lanka. Mountains full of trees alternate with valleys filled with tea bushes. It will be a ride to remember.

Sri Lanka's most famous train ride from Kandy to Ella.
Sri Lanka’s most famous train ride from Kandy to Ella.

Join the pilgrims to the top of Adam’s Peak// 5500 steps is the only thing that separates you from one of the biggest religious experiences in Sri Lanka. Buddhists believe that you can see Buddha’s very own footprint on the top of this mountain. The way up to Adam’s Peak is scattered with monks and little temples. Climb during the night to avoid the unbearable heat. Also, be aware of the strong, cold wind at the top during the night. Bring an extra pair of pants, a cozy sweater and a coat to keep you warm when you wait for le moment suprême. In the morning, you’ll be able to watch the rising sun cast it rays over the island from the top of Adam’s Peak. This is what makes it all worth it! The best views are when you turn 180° after you reached the temple’s gate. There are plenty of hotels at the foot of Adam’s peak. Definitely enjoy an early sleep before climbing to the top and definitely don’t try to pull an all-nighter as we did.

Sunrise above the central mountains in Sri Lanka.
Sunrise above the central mountains of Sri Lanka.

Climb the mountains of Ella// If you’re lusting for more mountain view, Ella is the right place for you. Ella Rock was our favorite walk in this area. The climb is approximately 4 hours to the top and back. First, you’ll walk along the train tracks, which is quite common in Sri Lanka so no need to be afraid. Then you dive into the tea plantations. The last 30 minutes of the hike are inside the forest until you reach 2 viewpoints. They offer a magnificent birds-eye view over the valley of Ella. If you’re legs are still trembling from Adam’s Peak, you can take a short 1 hour hike up to Little Adam’s Peak to enjoy a similar view on the surroundings of Ella. The 98 Acres Resort is situated alongside this route, which makes it the perfect place for a tea break with a view.

The valley as seen from Ella Rock.
The valley as seen from Ella Rock.

Take a peek at World’s End in Horton Plains// Horton Plains is a beautiful, silent, strange world guarded by two of Sri Lanka’s largest mountains. The plains are actually a plateau that’s soaring 2000m above the surrounding countryside. This plateau comes to a sudden halt at World’s End, where the landscape plunges dramatically to the forested lowlands. Come early because the afternoon fog tends to ruin the view.

So this is where the world ends, or at least in Sri Lanka.
So this is where the world ends, or at least in Sri Lanka.

Walk along the train tracks to the Nine Arch Bridge// We were getting quite accustomed to walking on the train tracks so we decided to embark on the 1,5 hour easy walk from Ella to the Nine Arch Bridge. It’s stunning how mankind was able to build a giant bridge in the middle of nowhere. It’s impossible to get lost because the only thing you need to do is follow the tracks.

Walking the train tracks along the Nine Arch Bridge. Guess where it got its name?!
Walking the train tracks on top of the Nine Arch Bridge. Guess where it got its name?!

TO EAT

Cafe Chill// The perfect place if you want to have a break from all the rice. We found the Western food, especially the burgers, on of the best we had in Sri Lanka. They have the perfect amount of crunch and juiciness. BONUS: the dishes come with some very decent fries. We’re Belgian so we’re allowed to claim to be experts on this topic 🙂 The cocktails and beer are a welcome treat after a long day of walking.

Down Town Roti Hut// Local food with the right amount of spices. The menu offers traditional Sri Lankan cuisine at a decent price. We would definitely recommend the chicken roti at this place. Of course, accompanied by some local beers. You deserved it!

What’s your favorite hiking area in the world?

Morning walk along the tea fields in Ella. This is the best time of day to see the locals at work.
Morning walk along the tea fields in Ella. This is the best time of day to see the locals at work.


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