We loved our stay in Ella. It’s a gorgeous wee town with lots to see and do and has a great chilled out, relaxed feel. It’s not as high as Nuwara Eliya but still a bit cooler than down south of Sri Lanka, so we took the opportunity to do some wandering through the tea plantations and exploring the area.  Here’s what we got up to in Ella:

Walking to Little Adam’s Peak

The top of Little Adam’s peak is up there.

We did a 7km round hike up through beautiful tea plantations to Little Adam’s Peak. It’s a fairly easy walk for adults (although we saw a few huffer and puffers!) but we were super proud of the kids who did most of it, especially Jack who walked right up the top stairs by himself.

Soph having a bit of a rest as we head up.
The walk up to Little Adam’s Peak has beautiful scenery.

The views at the top are gorgeous, across to the stunning Ella Rock.

We made it! That’s Ella Rock behind us – note the super windy road that runs along the bottom, we went over this a couple of times!


There’s also beautiful views down towards the coast which apparently can be seen on a very clear day.

The coast is down that way…
Going down was a bit easier than the climb up.


We also got to see some tea pickers at work in the tea plantations. It’s an extremely hard life for these people, they are paid on average $2USD per day 🙁

Tea pickers walking with their full load back to the factory.

Most of them were barefoot and the ground is pretty rocky and hard. They’re super keen to pose for photos with you, but expect a tip in return. You can’t really begrudge them that given what they earn.


On the way back we stopped off at Flower Garden Resort for a well earned drink. There’s a restaurant with beautiful views of Ella Rock. The kids loved the menagerie of animals they have there – birds, guinea pigs, rabbits and fish.

The kids enjoying some of the animals at Flower Garden. Check out Sophie’s beautiful wildflower bouquet that she picked on our hike.

We were keen to give Ella Rock a go, but the next day the weather looked a bit inclement and we didn’t want to drag the kids all the way up there through the rain and mist. So maybe next time we’ll be luckier!

Eating dinner at Samiru Guest House

We stayed at a wonderful family run guest house in Ella, and we asked if they could cook us dinner one night (a common thing you can do in Sri Lanka and most of the best meals we had there were home cooking at guesthouses).

So we went down to their house that night and watched the magic unfold as the owner’s wife and 12 year old niece whipped up the most beautiful curry and rice dish for us.

Curry and rice ingredients lined up ready to go.

Curry and rice is served everywhere in Sri Lanka, but unlike the title it’s actually a number of dishes served with rice, normally around 5 vegetable dishes and sometimes with a meat curry as well. It’s delicious.

Sophie trying out the coconut grinder. This is used to separate the coconut from the husk, and water is added to make coconut cream and coconut milk. Every home should have one! Our two amazing cooks are in the background.
Our fantastic feast was whipped up on a two burner stove – no fancy kitchenware needed here!

The kids had a ball as well playing with Samiru who was the same age as Jack and the owner’s son. Language was no barrier when there seems to be a universal 4 year old boy language of banging and crashing of car toys 🙂

The universal language of play.

We then got to enjoy our delicious dinner in their living room, it was a great experience.

Our feast lined up and ready to go. From the rear: cabbage and onion, pumpkin curry, carrots, okra, dhal, bitter melon curry. The salads to the right were delicious cucumber, tomato and pineapple. There was also a chicken curry, rice and pappadams. This entire meal cost us $NZ10 / US$14
Enjoying our dinner.

Demodara nine arches bridge


This rail bridge which came into commission in the 1920’s is one of Sri Lanka’s engineering marvels as it is constructed entirely of rocks, bricks and cement and stands nearly 100 ft high.

We climbed down a steep bank onto the tracks and had a bit of a ‘Stand by Me’ movie moment when we thought we heard the train coming! Luckily we were a good 10 minutes early. The kids then made us look up the Stand by Me train scene on YouTube when we got home to see what we were talking about!

Here comes the train! Check out this local guy who nearly had his own Stand By Me moment. He wasn’t bothered in the slightest…..

Here’s a little video of the train coming over the bridge.

Ravana waterfall

Ravana waterfall is one of the widest waterfalls in Sri Lanka, and a spectacular sight at 25 metres high, even in the dry season like it is now.

Ravana Falls and swimming hole

We enjoyed dipping our toes into the falls and watching some brave people going for a swim.

Nice spot for a dip.


Dova Ancient Rock temple


The Dova Ancient Rock temple is quite a cool temple that is carved into the rock and dates back to King Walagamba’s era. It’s full of beautiful paintings, buddha statues and a reclining buddha. The kids are a bit templed out, so they stayed with our tuk-tuk driver while we quickly visited.

Beautiful paintings and frescoes at the temple.


Outside the temple is a partially finished, ancient carved Buddha which was interesting to see.

The rest of the time we just chilled out, admiring the lovely view at our guest house and the ambience of Ella town.

Jack got to drive the tuktuk home again!

Where we stayed

We stayed at the excellent Samiru Guest House, which is family run and a short walk into Ella Village. The owners were lovely and it has two rooms which are simple but immaculately clean and have only been open since late last year.

Delicious breakfast on our balcony.

The breakfasts were delicious – toast, jam, omelette, lots of fruit and tea. They also kindly picked us up from the train station – even though we hadn’t organised it which was brilliant ESP and the owner also has a tuk-tuk so we hired him to drive us around to see the sights one morning.

The view from our balcony with a peep of Ella Rock.

We’d highly recommend staying here, if nothing else to sample the amazing curry and rice they cook!

This has been the cheapest place we have stayed so far on this trip at $31 NZD / $22 USD per night! Just goes to show you don’t need to spend a fortune if you find a good place.

Check out prices and book Samiru Guest House online here.

Where we ate

Apart from the legendary curry and rice, we also had a couple of other good meals in Ella.

We tried Roti and Kotthu Roti which is like a Sri Lankan stir-fry – it is chopped up roti with vegetables, egg and you can get meat added if you want.

Potato and tomato roti. They give you a little curry and some other delicious unknown sauce to go with it!
Yummy vege and egg roti kotthu. The sound of the knives going ‘chop chop chop’ as they cut it up is awesome.

We tried both Downtown Roti and the other roti joint in town (sorry forgot to write the name down) and they were both good.

The roti man in his roti hut at Downtown Roti (photo taken by Sophie)

The also tried curd and honey for the first time and fell in love with it. This is a delicious one we got at the Curd Shop on the main road in Ella. It’s essentially buffalo yoghurt which is thick and quite tart, but when added with jaggery honey (which we later learned is basically palm sugar syrup) it’s delicious.

Soooo good.

We also had some burgers one night at Cafe Chill which is the main backpacker/tourist haunt in town. It was heaving with people and we ended up on the roof terrace squished in the corner. It’s got good reviews on TripAdvisor but we found our burgers expensive and a bit average – maybe we’re just too in love with Sri Lankan food!

Coming next: On safari at Yala National Park

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  1. Wow guys!!! Super glad you did a little nod to the food there!! And really glad you guys have tried out a lot! I used to hate drinking wood Apple as a kid but I’d love to have some now! The place you stayed at in yala reminded me!

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