Taking the Train from Kandy to Ella
The sinuous stretch of railway between Kandy – Sri Lanka’s mountain-fringed former capital – and Ella – a bucolic town amid lush tea plantations – is classed by many as one of the most spectacular train journeys in the world.
The journey, which winds through emerald-green hills and tiny towns, takes around seven hours. You can depart Kandy at 8.47am or 11.10am, and arrive in Ella at 3.15pm or 5.28pm respectively – which might sound like a long time to be on public transport – but this isn’t your average commute.
There’s a choice of first, second or third class carriages, but second class reserved seating gives you a little more comfort, without losing the entire reason you’re here – the authentic train experience. The first class carriages can feel stuffy – plus the windows and doors aren’t wide open like you find elsewhere – a shame, given one of the best parts of this trip is the ability to be half in, half outside the train. Sit at the doors with your legs brushing the bushes, or dangle your entire body out for a wind-in-your-hair adrenaline rush moment (no really, you’ll see locals doing this with ease).
NOW, ON TO THE EXPERIENCE…
You’ll begin in the cultural chaos of Kandy – the streets here are filled to bursting with history and heritage (monkeys, too, so keep an eye on any shiny possessions). Fuel up with coffee, pancakes or a smoothie bowl at the Secret Alley Café before making your way to the train station. Do prepare yourself for crowds and ticket touters (that said, London commuters will have no problem) – but you needn’t worry too much – we’ll have sorted everything for you ahead of time. With that, breeze straight through to the platform, which is almost always a-buzz, as locals and travellers alike wait in anticipation.