The number one piece of advice I heard when asking Sri Lanka tips was “you MUST make sure you go on the most beautiful train ride in the world!” So like the good little servants we are, we hustled and booked our tickets a day in advance – from Ella to Nuwara Eliya, Nuwara Eliya to Kandy – to ensure we could get a spot on this famous locomotive.
I’ve become more lax with leaving things til the last minute when I travel, but if you are wanting to claim an actual seat on the train (everyone reckons 2nd class is the best, but 3rd is still adequate – and about $1.20AUD) you probably need to book your tickets at least a day in advance otherwise you’re likely to end up on the floor.
Boarding at Ella Train Station, the ride meanders through the lush hill sides, straight up the belly of Sri Lanka, winding through tea plantations, rain forests and the odd town or 20. It’s as magnificent as everyone harps on about and if you’re lucky enough to rustle a window seat, you’ll be hypnotised by the 100s of shades of green passed on your journey.
And if you are lucky, and brave enough, you may even just get that famous door lean photo (I didn’t quite nail it).
We chose to stop in Nuwara Eliya – roughly half way between Ella and Kandy – for a night to not only break up the journey (about 9 hours in total) but we had also heard amazing things about their tea operations.
Hopping out at the station, we were quickly sweet talked into a fully-guided afternoon tour of NE, who would then drop us at our accommodation. It seemed too good to be true, but happily for once our guide was a total gentleman (well until he finally realised that our accomm was in the middle of no where!).
After making our way along the winding roads, we ended up at Damro Tea, one of the many, but probably most famous, tea producers in Nuwara Eliya.
A fun fact that I didn’t realise was that the majority of the world’s tea actually comes from Sri Lanka, not India as I had previously and probably naively thought.
And also that green tea is actually just a part of the standard black tea leaf, it just doesn’t undergo the same drying process! Wild!
Next we headed to Ramboda Falls for some more aquatic action. It’s a fair hike to the top and I would highly recommend some more sturdy shoes and better pants than I had on to ensure you don’t break your neck on the way up or down.
Pure hydro power!
At the bottom of the falls, which is reached about half way up to the top, you can swim in the icy cool waters and if you’re brave enough, scramble over the rocks and swim under the waterfall itself.
I was having a bit of a down moment at the time (it happens even on the best trips) so I stayed put while Margaret dipped her toes and submerged her soul under the falls.
I have to be completely honest and say that one of the main reasons we chose to stay in Nuwara Eliya was all due to this house we found on Airbnb. I love me a tree house, especially one that is triangular in nature so I just had to stay there.
Directions on the listing told us it was a “touch” out of town…don’t be fooled fam, there is nothing a touch about this location. It’s in the middle of no where. And precisely the point where our driver decided to disown us. RIP headphones
But just look how bloody great it is! So angular, much point, such math.
Absolutely spent, we rugged up (it’s bloody cold in NE) and the family who ran our accommodation organised a tuk tuk for us to a pizza place (yes i know sorry, but it was probably the best rated place in town). What ensued was a night of delirious hilarity, delicious pizza cooked for the whole “restaurant” by one woman (!), a tuk tuk ride for wine and endless chats in our tri-sided home.