Ella to Kandy Train Ride
If you step off a flight in Sri Lanka and have no idea about the Kandy to Ella or vise versa train journey, then you might as well turn around right now. Its the reason some people come to this beauty of a country, to some it is the cherry on top of the green mountainous cake that is Sri Lanka.
Due to its popularity, I would highly recommend booking seats in advance, especially if you would like a comfy seat! Most people go for the second class carriages which have large openable windows to really see the views, and get those pictures! I opted for first class due to there being no second class left (told you, hot property)… However due to the day I arrived being extremely hot I was thankful for the AC in first class. The cost can be fromm 1000 – 1400 rupees, still so cheap for such an amazing experience.
The whole journey continues to a city called Budulla, and there are stops all along the journey so look up a few of them incase you want to stay out in the mountains. It can take from 7 – 8 hours depending on times, weather conditions, mountain conditions and just overall relaxation of the driver to be honest. But I promise you wont be disappointed.
8.47am – Departure time
The first train of the day leaves at 8.47am every morning, its even on the traditional notice board, with the platforms etc. You can embark from either side of the train, if you didn’t know the train is bright blue, and looks stunning as it pulls up to the cute little colonial Kandy train station. I recommend turning up to the station 15 minutes prior at the latest just to make sure you don’t have to run, or incase of traffic means you will defintiily make it! Also gives you time to get on smoothly and slowly.
Okay so the train actually arrived late even though Kandy is the starting point, the sun was shining, everyone on board was so excited, buzzing about the views and finding their seats which if you are in First class can move turn completely round 180 degrees to go in the direction of the train moving (bring this idea to England please). The moment we started moving there were options to buy food, drinks, snacks, fruit from the venders on board.
10.30am – 2 hours in
Went a little mad with the pictures because you don’t realise just how quick and how stunning the views will become once you leave Kandy station. The train runs parallel to a lot of small villages and towns along the track for the first hour or so, with roads crossing a few times so the locals are all waving as your pass. Don’t forget to wave back out the window or door ways. With tall succulents and coloured houses making it a colourful start to the train adventure.
The views became even better, tea fields with women picking the leaves, full of the views on either side of the train, you will be around the many small villages. I got chatting to some of the people sitting next to me, and also near the doors who were kind enough to take some pictures of me hanging out the door (had to be done). Everyone in Sri Lanka you will find is either doing the route your doing or the opposite route. So make friends, collect tips, collect recommendations and enjoy the ride.
11.30am – 3 1/2 hours in
Just when you thought the views couldn’t get any better, you start taking a cliff route, with mountains, green hills and valleys all along the right hand side of the train, I couldn’t contain my excitement. The views just got more unbelievable and richer in scenery.
I also ended up making friends with 2 women in my carriage who i had met on the platform in Kandy. We talked or ages and ended up exchanging numbers. In the end we met up in Ella a few times, plus I had a reunion in Australia with them. It was a lovely meeting and before I know it an hour had passed.
12 .10pm – half way
Around this time you will arrive into Nuwara Elya, the mid point oft eh whole journey. This is where a lot of people dis embark and enjoy 1 or 2 days here before continuing to Ella. Its full of tea plantations, jungle, mountains and waterfalls. But also has a real British influence from the Colonial days in Sri Lanka. Due to its altitude and the mountainous area of the country its in, the weather can be interesting so pack appropriate gear for any scenario. The rain can start at any minute. Look out for some of the many waterfalls which can be spotted too.
1pm – 4 hours in
I finished a Mango and Samosa I had bought on the train, delicious snack for the journey, at this point I decided to sit, relax, take it all in and just admire the views which were showing off outside my window. It got quite cold, and a little misty due to how high we now were. I read my book, wrote in my diary, a few people close to me were playing a card game.
We hit the top of the mountains where all you can see is bushy tree tops, misty fog, and greenery everywhere. The train goes at a slower pace due to the bends and turns in this part of the journey too so a good time to get some gorgeous pictures out the open doors without feeling shakey! There are huge 20 metre high trees on either side of the train, where the only known man made items is the railway and train.
3.15.pm – 6 1/2 hours in
Tea fields for miles around! Wave to the workers they will appreciate it, and some even wave back. The tiers shown up the mountains make it look like something out a film, and they just keep going on and on and on. Ella and this area of Sri Lanka is world famous for its tea plantations due to the tropical, yet high altitude providing the cool conditions for the tea to thrive.
4pm – 7 hours in
Just got a cheeky siting of the 9 arch bridge, which you can famously go and visit in Ella. It’s a gorgeous last treat of the journey and a sign of you nearing Ella station, so pack up all your things, remember your tickets to keep forever, and any left over snacks you may have.
4.19pm – Arrival – 7 1/2 hours since Departure
Arrived into Ella, after a speechless journey, there were times of boredom, you can only look at rice fields and tea fields for so long, but mainly it’s a feeling of everyone being on the train at the same time for the same reason taking in everything you are seeing. It’s the feeling of departing from one beautiful area of Sri Lanka and arriving in a another place where you have so much to discover.
There are so many tuk tuk’s waiting at the station to take you into the centre or too your accommodation, I would recommend getting one its quite a walk into town.
Top things to have handy on this train;
1. Try to sit on the Right Hand side, apparently the left side is a not to be missed view the entire time.
2. Socialise, get chatting to others on the train, it doesn’t just pass the time, but you meet so many people.
3. Your ticket, I didn’t know this but you hand your ticket in at the end to show you have paid, they are pretty strict I nearly wasn’t allowed out
4. Downloaded films/ Book/ Music downloaded – No signal at times on the mountains
5. Diary or sketch book, the perfect time and place to just relax and take in the views, catchup on Life Admin
6. Comfortable clothes, warm clothes – it becomes much cooler half way in the mountains
7. Food, Snacks, anything to keep you procrastinating
8. Money, Cash – there are venders who come up and down the train selling fresh fruit, drinks and meals
Take it all in, and have a blast!