Mountaintown Ella, Sri Lanka

Jane Baumgartner ABROAD Leave a Comment

The beauty of not having every day planned, down to the last detail, means there’s room for spontaneous decisions. The best decision made was to head to the sleepy, magical mountain town called Ella.

Our decision to travel to Ella sprouted from exchanging travel experiences with another couple while enjoying lunch with a view at Jungle Beach– a short tuktuk ride from Galle. This was another beautiful spot that was recommended for us to stay, hopefully on our next trip!

We mentioned the general direction our trip was forming, two days in Tissa for some resort time and a safari, with our final destination to hike Sri Pada. The couple quickly picked up our love for hiking and insisted we take at least a day to explore Ella. With our unplanned honeymoon we figured…why not?

So there we were, with the advice from kind strangers we started researching what was available last minute in Ella. Within minutes we found our perfect home away from home at The Rockside Inn.

The following morning we packed our belongings, said goodbye to the resort life, and found ourselves winding through the mountains towards Ella. Feeling the air temperature change as we climbed higher into the trees, we knew we were heading to something special.

For those looking to travel from Tissa to Ella, I highly recommend spending the extra Rupees to enjoy the fresh air and take a tuktuk. Our driver charged 5,000 LKR (about $30 USD). Travel time ended up being about 2 hours, with a pit stop for some of the best corn on the cob we had ever tasted, compliments of our driver!

We got dropped of at a sign indicating we were 500 meters from the hotel entrance. We grabbed our packs, and peered down the steep dirt path. Off the side of the cliff we would soon find quite true to it’s name, The Rockside Inn.

Drew and I both agreed that this was the coolest way to arrive to a hotel. Our own little mini hike to kick off the sporadic trip to Ella- it was perfect.

Rockside Inn gets its name just for that…it’s literally on the face of a mountain, overlooking the winding road we had just traveled from, hugging Little Adam’s Peak and Ella Rock. The wife of the family run Inn greeted us with her beautiful young daughters clinging to her legs. She invited us to sit on the balcony and enjoy a fresh juice and some cookies while we waited for our room. Fast forward 15 minutes later and we were relaxing on our own little balcony overlooking the same view we had just soaked in, with a mini fridge stocked with cold beer and water. Needless to say this was our little slice of heaven.

Rockside Inn provides complimentary breakfast, and serves up one of the best vegetarian Sri Lankan curry dinners I have ever had for about $5 USD. I highly encourage anyone staying in Ella to stay here!

Room prices range, we found ours for about $30 a night and comfortably sleeps four adults, we got this rate last minute through The Inn has a map of Ella and a large map of Sri Lanka which we used frequently to get our bearings. They also provide train times leaving Ella each day. Make sure to book your train ticket out of Ella in advance! We did not do that, and ended up on an array of modes of transportation to get us to Nallathanniya, more on that to come.

All you need to do is during your stay in Ella, walk up to the train station a day or two before you plan to depart. Reserve your ticket, and be sure to arrive 20-30 minutes before your scheduled train. Easy as that, and we didn’t do it, but that made it more of an adventure…right? You can also just book online, yes we know, there were a lot of easier routes that we could’ve taken here…

The train station is a 15 minute walk from the Inn, walk up the hill towards town and you’ll see a large “Tattoo and Piercing” sign. From there, take a right and continue up the hill for no more than 5 minutes. You’ll find yourself at a dead end where the train station is located.

This was the perfect mountain pit stop, and quite possibly the most memorable. Ella is a town not to be missed.




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