It’s easy to see why Ella is so popular among casual hikers. A small town in the hill country of Southern Sri Lanka, Ella is blessed with lush greenery, cascading waterfalls and mountains adorned with bright green tea bushes, making it a great hiking destination.
Popular trekking spots in Ella include Adam’s Rock, Little Adam’s Peak and Senadhi, all of which offer varying levels of difficulty for climbers. But on the whole, even the more ‘treacherous’ Adam’s Rock is surmountable if you’re reasonably fit and love a good trek.
To get to Ella, we took a 3-hour train ride from Nurwaraeliya to Ella. If you plan to see Sri Lanka’s hill country, we highly recommend you take this route, as it is one of the most scenic in the world. The 150-year-old track passes through tea plantations, wooden bridges and rural villages. Just be mindful that the ride can get quite bumpy, not to mention the train schedules often run late. But if you’re on holiday, why not take it easy and go with the flow?
As we arrived in Ella in the late afternoon, we didn’t have time for most of the trials except Little Adam’s Peak. But just as well, as the 2-hour hike there ended up being my favourite experience of the trip. Little Adam’s Peak is named after the famous holy mountain Adam’s Peak, because of the similar shape.
Here are five reasons why Little Adam’s Peak in Ella is a must-go if you travel to Sri Lanka.
1. Enjoy top-of-the-world experience for little effort
From the foot of the hill, Little Adam’s Peak looks like a long, ardous trek up hill. But surprisingly, it took us only 40 minutes or so to get to the top. Maybe it’s as the Sri Lankans say, when you climb a mountain, don’t think about how long it’s going to take or keep looking up at the summit. Focus on the path ahead of you and keep on walking, you’ll get there in time.
Admittedly, we could have walked a little more leisurely, especially since some of the paths were quite steep and narrow, leaving little room for mistakes. But in our haste to get to the top before sunset, we walked so fast, I was actually giddy from the exertion by the time we got to the top. But the breathtaking views of the surrounding mountains, winding vallies and serene atmosphere more than made up for it –it was truly an amazing experience to be on ‘top of the ‘world’ — and all of that for a 2-hour round trip.
2. Spectacular sunsets
Watching the sun set against a backdrop of misty mountains is truly a sight to behold — and that’s what Little Adam’s Peak offer if you trek there just before dusk.
3. Meet people from all walks of life
Little Adam’s Peak is popular with locals and tourists from various countries. Most people will say hello when they pass you, so make an effort to greet everyone back, or even better, make some friends on your way up. A friendly local even offered us cookies at the summit. We took the opportunity to ask her for recommendations of places to eat.
4. Meet An-nee too, ‘guardian’ of Little Adam’s Peak
known among the locals as An-nee, this friendly mongrel makes his way up to the top of Little Adam’s Peak early every morning and stays there until the last visitor leaves the hill. We happened to be the last to leave that evening, and true enough, like a little guardian, An-nee ‘escorted’ us down hill — stopping whenever we did, and only went on his way when we reached the foot of the hill. We didn’t manage to take a good picture of An-nee but we found one on Adam Kilgarriff’s blog.
5. Catch a glimpse of tea pickers’ lives
Sri Lanka is home to many tea plantations and Ella, being part of the hill country has no shortage of them. As you make your way up Little Adam’s Peak, you’ll get to catch a rare glimpse of some villages inhabited by tea pickers and their family going about their day-to-day lives. Sri Lankan tea workers mostly come Tamil and are said to make a daily wage of only US$3, provided they manage to collect at least 20kg of tea leaves.