Sri Lanka – Ella

We arrived late into Ella to thunder storms and pouring rain. We grabbed the first tuk tuk and headed straight for our guest house, The Marvellous Inn. This turned out to be quite far up / down a long road out of town. It was nestled in the most beautiful valley with absolutely stunning views of the surrounding mountains and waterfalls. Yes even in the rain we got a sense of how special this place was.

We were warmly greeted by Ari, our host for the next three nights and immediately offered some tea and biscuits. Once settled into our room and the rain still pouring down Ari came and offered us some dinner.

We were served home cooked chicken curry with rice. It was delicious and served in what seems to be the usual way, a variety of vegetables and sambals to accompany. We tried banana flower for the first time and finished off with ice cream and chopped banana. Ari even bought us a couple of beers, albeit warm but very welcome after a long day travelling.

We were up early for a delicious home cooked breakfast served on our terrace of coconut pancakes, fresh fruit and scrambled egg toasties (new one on me). We were headed for Little Adams Peak followed by the Nine Arch Bridge.

The walk to Little Adams Peak took us through the town and then up through the tea plantations. A relatively easy walk which took us around an hour to get to the top. The last climb is a bit tough in the heat, for me anyway.

The views are stunning from the top with a fantastic view of Ella Rock (the next days venture) and surrounding area. After a few pictures and chance to cool down a little we headed back down in search of the Nine Arch Bridge.

The walk to the bridge took us through more tea plantations walking past local houses and fruit sellers. A kind lady pointed us the the right direction after we took a wrong turn. It’s worth mentioning that there are absolutely no signs to any of these places, you are solely reliant on locals and any research you may have done via google.

After a fairly hairy climb down through a very narrow passage way we caught our first sight of the Nine Arch Bridge. I thinks it’s so impressive because of its setting, surrounded in a valley of beautiful tea plantations and stunning views you can see why everyone flocks here for pictures.

We were hoping to see a train pass by but after an hour of picture taking and waiting around we decided to head back to Ella via the train tracks for a well deserved beer.

We checked out Matey Hut at the top of town for lunch. It didn’t look like much but I had heard great things and stories of people queuing so thought it must be worth a try. Sam ordered a vegetable curry and rice (4 curries) and and I ordered a Daal Paratha which is a like a large pancake filled with Daal and potato curry and folded to make a parcel.

Up to this point we hadn’t really had anything too spicy so when Sam was asked if he wanted mild, medium or spicy he of course opted for spicy. I didn’t get asked assuming mine would come as is. Mistake.

Mine was absolutely delicious but so hot I struggled to eat it. I think they assumed we both wanted spicy. Sam’s curry included Banana Curry, Okra, Tomato Sambal and Daal.

Matey Hut KATER Score 8/10 – £7 for two inc. service

That evening we decided to stick to local food but somewhere a bit fancier and chose the Ceylon Tea Factory restaurant. A round of beers and some masala cashew nuts (amazing) were quickly ordered. I followed with a Jaffna prawn curry and Sam had the coriander beef curry. Both amazing, expensive in comparison to what we had been paying but worth it.

Ceylon Tea Factory KATER Score 9/10 – £25 for two inc. service

Another early start and another amazing breakfast of egg hoppers and tomato sambol we set for our next hike, the dreaded Ella Rock. Probably only dreaded by me as I’m no hiker and after yesterday exertions I was feeling a little jaded. Still the show must go on and off (up) we went.

A quick climb up to the train tracks and we were on our way. It took is approx. 1.5 hours to reach the top and the walk took us along the train tracks, through more tea plantations and into a beautiful forest. The forest marked the start of the real climb through fairly rocky and at times slippy terrain. Much to Sam’s amusement I had to stop and rest every few metres, I told you I am not a hiker.

We finally reached the top and all that sweat was worth it. The pictures below say it all.

Back at our guesthouse some rest was in order then into town for a late lunch. It was no booze day in Sri Lanka (once a month for full moon) so we had to settle for some delicious fruit smoothies instead.

We’d spotted a proper busy local restaurant the day before, Raha Cafe so decided to check it out. Wow. Sam had the masala dosa probably as long as he is tall (well not quite) and I had the chapati with Daal curry, coconut sambal and a side order of their spicy onion sambal. Both filled with the most deliciously spiced potato curry full of mustard seeds and when topped with the sambal and daal, incredible. Everything was delicious and so cheap.

Raha Cafe KATER Score 10/10 – £6 for two inc. service

As dinner was so good the first night we decided to stay in on last night and enjoyed a different selection of chicken and vegetable curries all served with rice, including green beans fresh from our hosts garden. Good job as it was raining again and we enjoyed a spectacular lighting show from our balcony.

We loved Ella, far more touristy than anywhere we’ve been so far but a really foodie town and a ton of activities to keep you busy.

Next stop – safari in Yala National Park 🐘

Sri Lanka – Sigiriya

We arrived in Colombo in the early hours to be greeted by our driver Anoj, booked via withlocals.com. After a 11 hour flight we were shattered, so took the opportunity to have a snooze in the car as we had a three hours transfer to Sigiriya.

On route we stopped at the side of the road, welcoming the opportunity to stretch our legs. Anoj treated us to our first taste of King Coconut, a local favourite here in Sri Lanka and a perfect way to refresh after a long journey. We watched as a guy expertly opened up the coconut, stuck in a straw and handed them out. They were surprisingly full of coconut water too.

We arrived at the Hotel Sigiriya in Sigiriya and took in the amazing view of Lion Rock whilst enjoying our welcome drink of fresh watermelon juice. The afternoon was spent snoozing by the pool.

We decided to venture out into the local town for dinner, so after a few local Lion beers we set out. I knew I wanted to go to the top rated Wijesiri Family Restaurant, a family run restaurant known for its tasty food at amazing value. We were not disappointed (only that they didn’t serve beer!). We quickly ordered a fresh pineapple juice and perused the menu. Chicken curry and rice – served with 8 curries was definitely happening, along with their local speciality of devilled king prawns. And for good measure a portion of the vegetable kotthu roti.

The curry was something else, so many dishes of tasty daal, okra, green beans and curry. We probably could have shared but that would have been boring. The devilled prawns reminded us of a sticky Sichuan style Chinese dish, really tasty. The kotthu roti is a mix of diced up vegetables, noodles and herbs and a famous snack in Sri Lanka. I have a feeling we may be eating more of this over the next few weeks.

Wijesiri Family Restaurant KATER Score 8/10 – £11 for two inc. service

The following morning we were up with the birds for an early breakfast Sri Lankan style followed by a hike up Lions Rock. Breakfast was a buffet serving everything from hoppers to curries – the perfect fuel for our walk.

Climbing Lion Rock was tiring in the heat, but well worth getting there early to beat the crowds. Over 1600 years old and a UNESCO world heritage site it’s impressive, with fantastic views across Sigiriya and surrounding areas. It’s £21 entrance which for Sri Lanka is steep.

We were back by the pool at 9.30 and a rewarding beer ordered by 10am – we are on holiday after all!

That night we ate in the hotel, enjoyed their buffet of various local curries including a rendang style beef curry, vegetables and sambals, the coconut sambals being my favourite. We treated ourselves to a bottle of red which cost more than our meal – what are holidays for!

The following day we relaxed by the pool some more and decided to venture out and climb Pedurangula Rock later that afternoon. This rock looks over Lion Rock, is a fraction of the cost and overall felt like a much more rewarding walk (£2 entrance). The views are spectacular, the climb hard especially in flip flops (don’t believe all you read on trip advisor) and I’m not surprised this is favoured over the two rocks. Oh and be prepared to do a little rock climbing at the top.

A quick walk down we found the only bar in town (or so we thought) that served beer, the Rasta bar. It was a bit run down and full of mosquitos so we quickly moved onto to Pradeep Restaurant for dinner. We were happy to discover they too sold beer (whoop) so another round of beers ordered along with their vegetable curry and some chicken fried rice. All very nice but not a patch on its neighbour Wijesiri.

Pradeep Restaurant KATER Score 6/10 – £8 for two inc. service

For our last breakfast in Sigiriya I enjoyed an omelette with chicken curry and Sam had his first egg hoppers filled with daal and sambals.

Next stop Kandy.