TRAIN, HIKING AND COWS IN ELLA
Not gonna lie — we both feel like we spent too many days in Ella.
We could have easily gone hard, combined all the hiking we wanted to do in two days to spend more time by the beach. Alas, we didn't.
Ella is very pretty, but very gritty at the same time. Tourism is obviously one of the biggest sources of income in the city — every home also functioned as a guesthouse, or operated some sort of food business, or Ayurvedic operation. Almost everything is a mom-and-pop business and perhaps because of the businesses are mostly ran by locals who have not travelled extensively, or didn't have the resources to compare what they're creating to what's out there, the execution of a lot of businesses wasn't sleek. Reviews of Ayurvedic massage places ranged from sloppy and unhygienic to a lack of privacy, which I experienced myself. I was ushered into a room with three beds, two of which were occupied by butt-naked European tourists lying face down dosed in oil.
The climate in Ella is very much similar to SoCal — crazy hot in the day, and the temperature drops at night, so bring a hoodie.
EAT: Matey Hut
It's rated number one in Ella for good reason — truly farm-to-table, labour-of-love, honest-to-goodness deliciousness that is probably one of our top two meals in all of our Sri Lankan travels. Don't order the nasi goreng like some white dude on Tripadvisor suggested. Go for anything Sri Lankan. I had a vegetarian curry meal, served with a heaping of piping white rice and laden with mango curry, okra curry, eggplant curry, and pumpkin curry with a pappadom.
DON'T EAT: 98 Acres
I feel very cheated when I get served shitty food, and unfortunately, while 98 Acres is a beautiful place to stay, the food has obviously been dumbed down for tourists, which I absolutely detest. B this time in the trip, I had already devoured some phenomenal Sri Lankan Devilled Curry, and the one I had at 98 Acres, was by far, the shittiest. It tasted like somebody poured tomato sauce all over my food and called it a day.
HIKING: Ella Rock
While the path to Ella Rock involved walking on the one train track from Ella Town to a little nook, I'd recommend starting about 8.30am - 9am and walk with all the other tourists walking. Chances are, you don't even need a tour guide if you walk with everyone else.
STAY: Stay away from Ella Town
The funny thing about Ella is that even though the mountains are absolutely breathtaking, they're not exactly on top of taking care of their city — smog from vehicles in the city is always intense, litter is strewn everywhere in Ella Town. A pity, because the city could be way, way more beautiful.