Train to Nuwara Eliya
During our road trip to Sri Lanka, we discovered the tea region…and it was wonderful !
We just landed in Colombo to take a taxi for Kandy, the second biggest city of Sri Lanka. We clearly didnt have a crush on this city : too big, too polluted, and not really charming. So we took the famous train to go from Kandy to Nuwara Eliya, at the heart of the tea region,and it was a real relief for us : our trip was finally starting !
This is what i was waiting for since we decided to leave Paris : get back to nature. And there it was a blast, because the tea region in Sri Lanka is SUPER GREEN !
Our trip with the local train took at least 7 hours, on an average speed of 25km/h, so we had plenty of time to admire the landscapes ! Unless you choose to book the first class ( booked months in advanceand expensive) , this is not the most comfortable trip ever, and the train is likely to be crowded, like REALLY crowded. But we loved it so much ! We went through incredible green landscapes and in my opinion, this is the best way to explore the tea plantations, forest and waterfalls, while you are having a really interesting conversation with locals.
Then, once we arrived in Nuwara Eliya, we understood why it was a safe shelter for English settlers when the weather was too hot : at nearly 2000m altitude,the air is fresh and pure…the contrary of Kandy !
Takng the train in Sri Lanka, practical informations
The first panoramic class seems to be as amazing as its price is high, and it is booked months in advance by travel agencies… whereas second and third class will cost you not even 2€ with a basic comfort. It is better to book your ticket the day before your departure, or to arrive early at the train station. take a good book, your camera…and enjoy the ride !
Nuwara Eliya, the green station
Most people come to Nuwara Eliya to explore tea plantations. But we noticed that once they are in the tea factory and plantation,most of them just take a few pictures of the plantations and that’s it. Maybe they think it is not allowed to wander in the plantation…but we didnt really care and we went for it ! It was such a beautiful moment being lost, almost alone in the silent beauty of the plantation…
The mountains of Sri Lanka are also home to many waterfalls. We only did a short trek to the “Lovers Leap” waterfall, but they are many other waterfalls around Nuwara Eliya that are worth the walk.
Our hotel in Nuwara Eliya
We had a real crush on our hotel : le King Fern Cottage. A beautiful wooden cottage that seems to be hanging in the trees. It is run by some rastas who are extremely nice and efficient. They also make the best dishes I have had in Sri Lanka. If you are lucky enough, you will ahve the opportunity to see them playing live music !
laid-back lifestyle in Ella
Ella was a real surprise : it is a tiny town caught between two mountains that attracts a lot of tourists ! With all its massage places, tattoo shops and chill bars, we suddenly felt like in Bali ! If you are an avid trekker, you should definitely stay a few days in Ella : you can walk in the tea plantations and get amazing view points over the valley and railway bridge.
I loved spending time a the top of Little Adams Peak, which is not so “little”, and offers a 360° breathtaking view upon Ella valley. On our way back we got lost a couple of times, and we passed through narrow trails on the tea plantations to reach the Nine Arch bridge, an astonishing bridge built by the english settlers. It is indeed a really touristy place but really worth it…and so photogenic ! Then we chose to come back by following the railway to Ella.
This Little Adams Peak loop, passing by the Nine Arch Bridge et the railway imerged us into beautiful and wild landscapes, giving us the feeling of being totally alone. So i recommend it to anybody visiting Sri Lanka with two fully operational legs !
Anyway, if you are planning to go to Sri Lanka, take as much time as you can to discover this part of the country…and read my article about the places where you can observe elephants >> Here !