‘Have you hiked Ella rock yet?’
The burning question on every backpackers mind in Ella. As you sit sipping your beer or as you unravel your banana leaf curry you find yourself eavesdropping on other people’s conversations trying to pull together at least a rough idea of where to start. You read horror stories online, the locals say you must hike with a guide and everyone attempting to hike the rock has a different set of instructions pulled from various online sources.
Our day started with eggs on bread before the sun had even risen. I hauled Robbie out of bed & we set off with some half-hearted screenshots from a blog I found online the night before while sipping passionfruit Mojito’s and being distracted by a litter of newborn puppies. With sore heads and full stomachs we were ready to go.
Now as a child where I am from we are told to stay clear of train tracks, it is not your playground and they are not to be walked on. Here however the train & tracks provide an amazing network for Sri Lanka and at this time in a morning they were alive with activity. The trains move slow and loud so if one does appear you have plenty of time to move out-of-the-way.
We followed women with crops balanced expertly on their heads, dodged the mass of school children running full pelt towards us and also managed to ward off some misleading directions from a group of local men playing chess at the side of the road. Talk around town is that you need a guide to hike to the top, if you don’t you will get lost. We heard and read a few stories of people walking around aimlessly for hours without reaching anywhere near their desired destination. We were also told to beware of the people who send you the wrong way deliberately into the path of a friendly local who will for a small price help you reach the top.
We only experienced this once and confidently carried on walking the way our instructions had told us. We didn’t want to walk with anyone else, my dramatic hiking wails are just enough for Robbie to handle let alone some random local. I trusted my judgement for once and expertly directed us (with the help of the photographs) right to the top.
Follow the train tracks, cross the farmers land, walk through someone’s back garden & through some super scary long grass and you are at the base of the hill. Easy, it really was easy. Fun fact about Robbie, he is terrified of snakes. After our encounter with the 10 foot black monster in Hatton I had to go first and hold his had through the long grass just incase a snake happened to appear, I still wonder what holding hands would have changed should we have been attacked, but I am all for support and we got through it together.
We started the ascent to the summit. The sun had made an appearance but it was shaded so I was feeling good. What was left of the cool morning breeze greeted us at the summit as well as a local guy boiling a kettle over a manmade fire pit. We cautiously walked over sleeping puppies and marvelled at the view. It was pretty epic. I was concerned it wouldn’t differ much from Little Adams peak but you are way higher up here, the landscape is breathtaking.
We spent some time at the top just hanging out in the sun and taking it all in before descending into a Banana bread & Tea infused coma. We encountered some weary hikers on the way down and after assuring them they were on the right track we practically ran back to our guesthouse to rest up for a few hours.
It was such a beautiful hike & one I am happy to have ticked off my Sri Lanka bucket list.