Another glorious day under blue skies. As we leave town we see the schoolkids dressed in white, ready to play the national sports volleyball and cricket. Yes, the Sri Lankans love their sports! The lake glitters in the sunshine and people with little farms are inspecting their crops. The road is winding once more, offering gorgeous views. It’s not long before we have a first stop at a Hindu Temple: the Sita Amman Temple. It’s a small temple with lots of colourful art depicting the story of Rawana keeping Sita captive, very kitsch with red and gold. But if you’re driving by nevertheless worth a stop.
The real treat today is a beautiful nature site though: Little Adam’s Peak just outside Ella. We reach Ella right before midday. I can understand what our fellow traveller on the train meant when he said it is no longer the place where he grew up. The rural town is now a little tourist mekka, with the main street full of restaurants and pubs. On the other hand, this is how the locals also make a living now. It’s clearly a backpacker town and we also see many yoga types and hippies walking around. We’ll return to Ella for lunch, but we need to deserve our food and drinks by doing a small hike up Little Adam’s Peak, a pyramid shaped rock opposite the far larger Ella rock. Rohan joins us till we reach the steeper steps, he will wait for us in the shade :-)
An Indian couple is about to walk up the steps, but the lady is not sure she can do it. We encourage her and tell her she can! And it’s really not too bad, no rocks but steps and the view on the top is fantastic especially on this clear day. The lady makes it to the top as well and she and her husband insist on making a photo of the two of us. So we do the same in return. A little photoshoot. But we mainly enjoy the views and try to take it all in. On the way back down we start a conversation with a Suisse couple and it turns out their guide is waiting down the steps, talking to Rohan.
It seems that travelling Sri Lanka with a private guide/driver is a popular way to discover the island. I have never travelled this way before, but it’s a luxury to have both the freedom and the best insider tips and comfort of not having to drive on these crazy roads.
The walk up to Little Adam made us hungry so we head back to Ella. We find a spot with good food and a great place for people watching. After lunch we take a short walk through the main street. There’s a market where locals are mainly selling fruit and vegetables. Many private homes also offer rooms for guests. Still, I don’t feel sorry that we are not spending a night out here. We are leaving Ella behind to go into the jungle! It’s another half our drive to our meeting point with someone from the jungle lodge and on the way we pass the Rawana Ella Falls, falling 90 meters down from the rocks. Many cars make a stop here, there are some food stalls and even another snake charmer. But we don’t want to see the cobra this time. Although there’s a BIG warning sign telling people not to climb up the rocks and risk their lives, ofcourse many people are out there. A police officer is looking at the scenes of climbing people and nods his head. Only 4 months ago a young woman died here while on holiday with her family. She slipped and fell down. It killed her. So no climbing on the rocks here for us today.
We have another adventure to experience.
Rohan is leaving us in the jungle for two nights. He can’t come with us as they have no lodgings for guides, so he will look out for a place to stay in the area.
A jeep truck is waiting to drive us down into the jungle together with food supplies. Rohan seems a bit worried as we wave goodbye. He hasn’t had any guests staying in this jungle lodge before and apparently you can do some adventurous things here. Like a dad he is worried we might break a leg :-) We assure him we will be careful. The jeep drives down a narrow winding path and after about 15 minutes the jeep stops and there’s another means of transport waiting for us: a cable car. The driver isn’t a talkative type, he puts our bags into the cable car and then we step in.
Down below, beneath the trees we see an arrival station, a wooden building where some other people are waiting to come back up. It’s a pretty exciting way to arrive and we see the jungle lodge is set in a wide area with rice fields as well. We arrive safely and are welcomed by a staff member. He offers us ginger tea and gives us some explanations about the place. The activities seem to be limited to a zip line and a jungle walk up to a waterfall. That’s something for the next day. He walks us to our lodging, right by the river. A wooden structure with a large room and bathroom, we’ll hear the river from our beds. So we take some time to sit out on the balcony beneath the trees and above the water. It does feel remote. And somehow we wonder what we will do the whole next day. We decide to go for the jungle walk anyway.
Diner time approaches and we are expected near the rice fields where the tables are set outside. In the evening light peacocks are coming out into the fields, making their particular sound and showing off the feathers. It’s a beautiful sight. There’s a bonfire and the only light at the table is a small candle. Dinner is a buffet, not really our taste for the first time this holiday but luckily there’s curd for dessert. All through dinner three men are playing traditional music and singing songs. Still, the whole setting feels a bit strange too. The staff seems to be a bit unhandy with everything. Oh well, it’s a new experience down here in the jungle away from everything. We fall asleep to the sound of the water.