Board the train in Sri Lanka’s hill country and you’re in for a real treat. This is not just a means of transportation, it’s the high-light of your trip.
All up-country rides are breathtaking experiences, but the journey from Ella to Kandy -or the reverse train- is hailed as the most beautiful train ride in the world.
Built by the British to transport coffee and tea from the Hill country, the railways of Sri Lanka still boast the old world colonial charm. Railway stations are full of British quirks, like antique scales and wooden time tables.
The rails are rough, the train rattles and rumbles and hardly ever exceeds 20 miles per hour. But why hurry? Tea bushes roll by like a green carpet dotted by colorful sari-dressed tea pluckers. Eucalyptus forests, majestic mountain peaks, terraced vegetable beds and rushing waterfalls glide by. Low lying clouds add to the beautiful scenery.
No need to go hungry or thirsty while on board. At each station the train cabins fill with sellers hustling peanuts, pop-corn, fresh fruit or wadi; deep friend lentil patty. Be sure to pay attention to the bags that these snacks are presented in: folded pages of a school textbook or with someone’s hand-written homework.
On board one meets Sri Lankans from all walks of life. During weekends and public holidays, groups of young people create a festive air by singing and playing drums inside the carriage. Some families will share lunch. And all love to make a chat and try to win you over by sending you an inviting smile.
A train trip in the Sri Lankan mountains is a unique experience, depending on weather, time of year, train occupancy and how open you are to meeting other people. But no matter what the circumstances, we are sure this inexpensive way to cross the country will be an epic adventure.