Hiking to the summit of Sri Lanka’s Ella rock

Apr 15, 2020

Travellers visit Ella in the Southern Central region of Sri Lanka for the slow train, the Nine Arch Bridge and the impressive views of tea plantations. Hiking is at the top of the list for many visitors to Ella and while there are many tracks, the ultimate is the uphill walk to the top of Ella Rock. 

We recommend using an experienced local guide. The track is not very well signposted. A local guide also gives valuable insights into the region’s history, culture, flora and fauna further enriching your experience. 

The 8km scenic track is easily accessible from Ella Town, beginning by heading off along the railway tracks to the base of the mountain. While the train tracks are operational, the trains are infrequent. Your guide will know when it’s safe to be on the tracks.

Head off early in the morning to beat the intense heat which comes mid morning. Plan on taking 3-4 hours for the circuit from Ella town to the top of the rocky outcrop. As with any uphill hike, a moderate level of fitness is needed. 

We consider the 8km hike to be family friendly. Children who are used to walking will be more than capable of making the climb. We took our children on the hike to the top of Ella rock at 7 and 9 years old for an idea on ages.  

Your morning begins on the flat train tracks before turning off onto an unmarked path that winds its way past locals in streams, through lush vegetation, waterfalls, rubber tree forests and tea plantations. Catch a glimpse of colourful ladies plucking tea in the trackside plantations. 

Along the hiking trail take in the daily life of tea pickers, locals washing clothes in the streams and the magnificent waterfalls. What makes this walk extra special is the variety of scenery you pass along the way. 

Before ascending up through the eucalyptus bushland you will come across a lovely, local refreshment hut. They stock a variety of cool drinks in glass bottles, hot local tea & well known snacks. A clea, albeit basic bathroom is available for customer use. We actually left one of our group at the cafe to relax while we carried on up hill on the track and collected him on our descent. 

Along your way, keep a lookout for the colourful exotic birdlife. Your guide has a wealth of information about the local flora and fauna in the region and will really enjoy sharing his experience with you as you head uphill.

From the top of the mountain, you will agree with us that the  360 degree panoramic views over Ella Gap, little Adam’s Peak and the surrounding tea plantations are spectacular and well worth the effort. Walk along the rocky outcrop on top of the cliff face, you’re on top of Ella Rock. After your well deserved rest, energising refreshments and a few photos follow the track around the peninsula in the opposite direction to enjoy more incredible views over the Ella Valley.

From here the track is a circuit, the ground is uneven and fairly rocky in places, it is however a track. After rain the clay soil becomes slippery so wear decent shoes to avoid an injury.

The descending track is smoother and much easier underfoot than the track you take to make the more challenging  climb up. Stop by the small cafe next to the tea plantation on your way down for a refreshing break, local tea, friendly chat and a chance to soak up the Sri Lankan nature. From here, enjoy the relaxing walk back to Ella town through the tiered tea plantations, across cool streams and along the famous Ella railway tracks. 

We recommend good walking shoes, a bottle of water and some high energy snacks. Check the local weather before you go and make sure you are prepared for a sudden change in conditions. Thick fog and downpours can move in quickly at the top of Ella Rock. 

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