One of our favourite experiences in Sri Lanka was climbing Ella Rock. The view from the top was one of the most incredible we’ve seen, and the journey up there was the perfect distance and incline to be challenging but still enjoyable.
This hike isn’t well guided like others in Sri Lanka are, and it often doesn’t seem like you’re on a trail at all. This makes for a a real sense of adventure during the trek and a real sense of achievement once you reach the top, however it also makes it tough to find your way, so we wanted to share with you our route and tips.
We started our walk at ‘Matey Hut’ in Ella. From here we walked up the hill and cut onto the train tracks and followed them west for about an hour. We loved this part of the journey, walking through the wilderness watching monkeys jump through the trees alongside us, but if you don’t fancy such a long walk you can start your journey anywhere you can get onto the train tracks.
From there you can either turn off left slightly before Kital Ella station (near the small Buddha shrine), or slightly after the station (roughly 50m). Going before the station is the quicker option, however we had read online that it could be very confusing. We tried both and can definitely reccomend the first turn off as it is not only shorter, but also a less confusing route and workers in the tea fields are happy to point you in the right direction.
Shortly after the tiny shrine, there’s a left turn down the hill and across a small stream. You’ll know you’re going the right way when you cross the tiny tiny waterfall (marked on the map below). From there keep walking uphill through the tea fields until you hit what resembles a path, then stick to it and refer to your map.
We’ve put together a map of the route we would recommend (screenshot from maps.me app) – we’d highly recommend downloading maps.me, you can use it offline, so once you have downloaded the Sri Lanka map, you’ll easily be able to put this route in and follow it without connectivity.
We would also recommend after Ella rock, walking slightly further to ‘view of the landscape’ (as shown on the map). Less people go to this viewpoint as not many know about it, but you get a different view which is just as incredible as the one from Ella rock – well worth an extra 10 minute walk through the beautiful rubber tree forest at the top of the mountain!
Length of hike
- 2-2.5 hours on the on the way up (with plenty of stops) – an hour on the train tracks, and the rest on the side of the mountain.
- Start Early- We started at 6am, and were up there shortly after 8am, and by the time it started to get really hot at 10am we were almost back on the tracks. However, we saw lots of people struggling on their way up sweating buckets at about 9.30am and it didn’t look fun
- Wear sturdy shoes/trainers – the ground isn’t suitable for sandals, you’ll be climbing rocks and it gets slippery on the way down.
- Take snacks/water – there aren’t many places to buy bits along the way after Kithal Ella, all we saw was a man selling tea and water when we were up at the top.
- Change of clothes – We wrapped up in jumpers and trousers for the journey up there as we started early, but once we were at the top had to change into shorts, and can’t imagine the journey down would have been much fun still in trousers.
- Don’t put 100% faith in signposts. We had heard of locals changing signposts on the way in order to persuade people to pay guides to take them up there (although we weren’t actually bothered by anyone). As a side note, we saw some of the guides rushing people up the mountain which didn’t look like the best way to do it.
- Matey Hut – We finished our journey at Matey hut, and their delicious roti’s tasted even better after 3 and a half hours of walking. Definitely recommend!
Thanks for reading our guide, we really hope it helps!
If you have any questions please get in touch or leave a comment.