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The Ultimate Guide to climb the Ella Rock

As you know, I got to Sri Lanka kind of unintentionally because of Indian visa problems. If usually I like arriving in a new country without having planned too much, here it has been the height of improvisation.

But of course, having the return flight after 12 days, caused that from the first moment, at the airport, airplane and upon arrival, I began to ask every tourist and local who I met what things they felt were ‘mandatory’ in Sri Lanka. One of the things that almost everyone agreed was the long train that takes you from the city of Kandy to a village called Ella. Apparently it was a train, costing less than $1, you could take from one city to the other on a journey that could last up to 6 to 10 hours, but everyone assured me that with the magnificent views and landscapes that I would pass by, the trip would be still short, and that I could put the icing on the cake upon arrival, climbing the Ella Rock..


    Looking for ways to climb the Ella Rock

The truth is that if you look up information online about Ella Rock you will find all kinds of opinions. Many people say that it is very easy to get lost and many others say that with a simple hand-drawn map it can be done without problems. Others say it is necessary to take a local guide and others say that it is not at all. Finally, others say it takes you three hours up and down, and others will say double. So seeing such confusion and little concrete information, I decided to write this guide on how I easily climbed the Ella Rock.


    Getting ready for the climb

I downloaded the following two maps to my phone and used the second one, that although the proportions of the sections may confuse a bit, it is certainly a very good approximation to reality.

Ella rock map #1
Ella rock map #2

Note that in the same way that they say that “All roads lead to Rome” it could also be said of the Ella Rock since there are countless paths that lead you to it and I’ll tell you the one I did. On the other hand, think that you are in a part of the island that has a tropical climate, so in the same climb it can be incredible sunny, suddenly it can burst into rain as if it was months it didn’t do it or be so foggy you cannot even see what is one meter in front of you.


    Important tip:

    Even if you are lost or wandering around on your own, if you have to ask about the way to go, do it to men who are working, children who are going to school or other tourists that you will encounter. Never ask men who are hanging around the area, because they will give you false information to confuse you, so you get lost and think there is no other to go up there than paying him as a guide.


    The path step by step

Start out from Ella train station and walk to the left along the platform until it finishes. Then you will see a sign that says it is forbidden to be on the tracks, but it is the only way to reach and you will see dozens of locals walking there to get to work or school.

On the right, Ella train station’s sign. On the left, part of the way through the railway.


Walk the railway for a little more than 2km, while you pass several bars/restaurants to reach the first reference point to have: the black metal bridge. A few meters after the bridge, on your left you will find a tree with a small Buddha, where you should stop walking on the railway.

Be careful because even if very few trains pass by that way, you do not want to find yourself in the middle when they do it. And if walking and walking, you get to the next station, called Kitelella, it’s that you’ve overwalked a few meters. Go back and find the little Buddha just before the metal bridge.

At the back the black metal bridge, on the right the Buddha where you should stop walking in the railway.


There you must take the little road on the left (coming from Ella, if you’re coming back from Kitelella you will find it on your right) and then go down a few meters, you will see on your left another bridge with a waterfall beneath him. Cross it and important, do not continue straight, you must take the road to the right and then left, then cross the tea fields in more or less straight line. First, you will go up the mountain crossing them and then descend a bit, and then if you follow the path, it will take a bit to the left.

Once past the tea fields, this is the kind of nature that you will have to cross.


Walk few minutes in a straight line and when you see a bifurcation do not take the path on the left, continue forward and you’ll find a quadruple bifurcation. Take the road to the left again, and walk along the road straight (do not take the right small bifurcation) and when you reach the end you will see that the road splits again and there are a couple of houses in the middle. No matter which one you take, since both paths rejoin after the houses.

At the top with the dog who guided me the last meters. The sky was quite cloudy but at least it was not raining anymore!


With a view to your left of Little Adam’s Peak, keep walking around the mountain until you reach a path of rocks forming a staircase in the mountains. If the road forks, just check which of the paths has a felled trunk with stones on top and take that one. At the top, you’ll find a wide path, which you should take to the left, walk about 50 meters and you will finally be in the impressive Ella Rock.


    Duration of the walk

In my case, and without being a great fan of trekking and carrying a 50L backpack full, it took me exactly two hours to climb to the summit, stopping a couple of times ten minutes because it was pouring down.

The duration would be thus:

    + Walk by the railway: 20 minutes.
    + Stop for the first downpour: 10 minutes.
    + Pass the bridge with the waterfall: 5 minutes.
    + Pass the tea plantations: 20 minutes.
    + Reach the quadruple fork: 5 minutes.
    + Reach the fork of the houses: 5 minutes.
    + The point where the path is unified: 3 minutes.
    + Reach the stone staircase: 15 minutes.
    + Stop for the second downpour: 10 minutes.
    + Reach the top: 25 minutes.

The way down it took me a couple of hours too, but why I stopped many times to take pictures and show the way to other travelers who seemed a bit lost, but at a swift pace is done in just over an hour.


    Where to sleep?

➡ If you want to save money and you do not mind sleeping in a tent, you should definitely check out Freedom Camp. For 7 USD / night you have a tent for two people, with mattress, pillows, Wi-Fi, shared bathroom and only 100 meters away from Ella train station.

➡ If you are not really into camping, but still don’t want to spend much in the accommodation, you have Sithu Homestay. For 15 USD / night you have a double room with private bathroom and breakfast included each morning. It’s a couple of miles away from the station but really close to the starting point of the trekking to the Ella Rock.

Well, that’s all. I hope that if you’re thinking to climb Ella Rock, this post will help you to reach the top!

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