Diary of Sri Lanka (week 3 &4): Ella, Hirikiteya and Mirissa

The first two weeks in Sri Lanka are over, but fortunately, we still have two weeks left in this beautiful country! In the previous diary-blog, we had visited Nuwara Eliya and were about to climb Adam’s Peak. Read on to read more about how that climb went!

Sunrise at Adam’s Peak

It is a quarter to two at night. Sleepily we get out of the taxi that brought us here together with the Canadian Dez and Emmie. We are in Dalhousie, at the foot of Adam’s Peak. In good spirits, we start walking. Adam’s Peak is a religious mountain for Buddhism, Hinduism, Christianity and Islam. As we begin to rise, we immediately come across a number of temples.

Adam's Peak lake

5500 steps and 2243 meters

Adam’s Peak is known as a tough climb. The path is well maintained, consists of 5500 steps and climbs up to 2243 meters. The first part rises gradually, but the higher we go, the steeper the steps get. In the beginning, we are all sweaty of the physical exercise and two hours later we are all shivering in the wind. It is only an hour more to get to the summit, however, there is much less shelter on the road and therefore it feels very cold.

A cloudy sunrise, or not?

We reach the top, way too early. It is only 04.45 am and it takes more than an hour before the sun comes up. Closely sitting together, we are waiting with thirty other people. I try to take a short nap on Ries his shoulder. Slowly the sky above us changes colour, from deep blue to purple, pink and slowly yellow. And then…. We are suddenly captured in thick fog. From one moment to the next there is no longer any sun or valley to see, we are caught by thick, wet clouds. Moreover, we are all wet and feel cold. I almost wanna give up and go down again. But Ries is convinced that the clouds we are in will disappear soon. So we stay a little bit longer…

Fortunately, Ries is right and the fog appears to consist of a few clouds that collide with Adam’s peak. Every few minutes we have a quick view of the gorgeous valley. The sun rises and looks like a big yellow fireball. The effect is actually very cool, in a kind of foggy environment we see this fireball rise and the first rays of sunlight warm us up.

Click here for a free guide on how to climb Adam’s Peak in Sri Lanka!

Adam's Peak cloudy sunrise

The heavy road down and back to Ella

Half an hour later the sun is high in the sky and we begin to descend. Those 5500 steps down are perhaps heavier than going up. We arrive at the car exhausted two hours later. I really need my sleep and after this night without sleep and with a lot of physical effort you can sweep me up. The following hours we first travel by car and then by train to Ella. Once I arrive at our hotel I immediately fall asleep.

Ascending Adam's Peak

Fourteen hours later I wake up by the sun shining into our room. A bit disoriented, I walk to the window and see our beautiful view. We have a nice hotel (Idyll) that overlooks the Ella Valley with her endless green mountains, so beautiful!

Ella view from Hotel Idyl

Planning your trip through Sri Lanka? Then read this blog with the ultimate Sri Lanka itinerary! Including tips and an overview of all the highlights in Sri Lanka. 

The Rawana waterfall in Ella

After our delicious breakfast, we take a tuk-tuk to the Rawana waterfall. Unfortunately, it is a bit disappointing, it is busy and you can only see a small part of the waterfall. Ries can capture something more with his drone, but it is still not very impressive.

Bloodsuckers at the Small Rawana waterfall

We have read about another waterfall, the Small Rawana, which you can reach after a short hike, according to the Lonely Planet. But that turns out not to be quite right … After half an hour of searching for a possible path, we come across a local man who would like to take us there “It’s just a shorty easy-peasy hike”. That ‘easy-peasy’ appears to wade through the fast-flowing river for half an hour, via slippery ridges and jumping over wet rocks. Once I arrive at the waterfall I am sitting under the leeches and Ries under the scratches. Was it worth the dangerous slippery road and ending up with small bruises? Yes, it was! We have the whole waterfall to ourselves and that is always very special these days.

The way back is not easier, but we manage. 45 minutes later we are back on Ella’s main road in one piece. Even Ries thought it was a scary road, he admits. He never says this during a hike, because he thinks I will start to panic or freak out. Such a liar, however, I do admit; Sometimes I need a sweet little lie since it gets me to wonderful places. After a good lunch, we decide that we do deserve a massage after this physical challenge. Afterwards, we walk back to our hotel, where I crawl into bed early. I don’t feel well.

Hidden waterfall Ella

Sick in Ella

Unfortunately, I am sick and the next four days I spend asleep in bed. Ries sets out to discover Ella himself. He climbs Ella Rock, Little Adam’s Peak, Lipton’s seat and visits the Nine Arches Bridge with Dez and Emmie, our friends from Canada. This bridge is well known, it is a large brick bridge that runs in an arch.

When he gets back from another adventure he tells me all about it. I am a bit sad though. Ella was one of the things that I was really looking forward to in Sri Lanka. However, I didn’ feel bad about missing all the activities. It rained a lot during the days and the views weren’t always as pretty as they could have been.

Ries wrote down all his experiences about Ella in a travel guide.

Nine Arches Bridge (credits Dez) EllaElla Rock summitWalking on the railway Ella

To Tangalle

After five days I feel finally good enough to travel to our next stop, Tangalle. I am not completely good yet, but after days of rain and cold, I really miss the warmth of the sun. And so we travel with our Canadian friends to Tangalle in southern Sri Lanka by taxi.

After three hours we arrive and sleep in a fancy hotel with an infinity pool (Nuga Eden Tangalle). The hotel is located close to the beach from where we can overlook two beautiful bays.

Surf Sri Lanka Mirissa

Fireworks on my birthday in Tangalle

It’s my birthday the next morning! We sleep in, I am surprised with a birthday cake and together with Dez we rent a scooter and visit several beaches. I feel almost better again and enjoy the beach, the sun and the clear waters. In the evening Emmie also comes along and we go out for dinner on the beach (a gift from my parents, thanks mum and dad!). We close the evening with a surprise from Ries:  fireworks! I perfect way of celebrating my 28th birthday. Thanks, everyone for the lovely and sweet birthday wishes. That really made me very happy:)

Working in Dickwella (yes, sometimes we work too . .)

The day starts with rain, however, this time it doesn’t matter since are planning to drive to our next destination, Dickwella. Once there, we spend this rainy day by getting some work done. We go to the trendy co-working spot Verse, where we spend the rest of the afternoon on SEO optimisations for the website. SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization (i.e. how easy is your website to find on Google). As you might have noticed, sometimes it takes just too long for our website to load. Nowadays, people (including us) do not have the patience to wait for websites to load. So, time for some maintenance! This type of work is not the best part of being a travel blogger, it is just necessary evil that needs to be done.

Red Beach Talalle

Surfing in Hiriketiya Bay

In the evening we eat pokébowl. Many ex-pats and digital nomads live in and around Dickwella. This place has a large surfing community. That is why you will find all kinds of fancy restaurants, accommodations and yoga studios here. A perfect place to stay a little longer and so we book a few more nights extra.

In the end, we like it so much that we stay for six days. The following days we finally get a rhythm in our days again: we start early in the morning with yoga, followed by coffee at Verse before working for a few hours. In the afternoon we enjoy our lunch at one of the many great restaurants in the neighboorhood, and afterwards, we are catching waves with a surfboard or play games with friends (alongside Deze and Emmie we meet Anne and Sebastiaan too).

Are you travelling through Sri Lanka? Read the ultimate travel guide for Dickwella and Hiriketiya here!

Wine and raw tuna at Talalla Beach

On one of these discovery trips, we come across the beautiful Talalla beach, a quiet beach with big waves. As a birthday present from the parents of Ries, I received a lovely brunch with drinks at Zephyr beach bar. The food is fantastic here, just like the wine the provide. Zephyr is located next to the Talalla beach and has a great swimming pool too. Tip: if you wanna stay at Zephyr, book early since this place is almost full all the time.

After six wonderful days in Dickwella, we decide to mirissa and her many great beaches. We only have three days left in Sri Lanka and we want to spend those days well.

Tourist hotspot Mirissa

While standing on a crowded local bus, we travel to Mirissa in less than an hour. Once we arrive at our hotel (Banana Garden), we drop the stuff, rent a scooter and head out to explore the area. We look at the well-known (and tourist) Coconut Tree Hill, play in the waves of Mirissa Beach and find the way to Secret Beach, which turns out not to be “secret” at all. In the evening we drink cocktails during happy hour on the beach and Ries orders a whole huge tuna that he picks himself.

Tuna Carpachio MirissaThis is not the big tuna Ries ordered btw, it is tuna tartare from the previous day:)

Mirissa is much busier than the places we have seen so far in Sri Lanka. You have many trendy restaurants, cafés and coffee shops here, with smoothie bowls, poké bowls and great interiors. Sometimes it is perhaps a little too busy, on the other hand, you have all the facilities you could be looking for.

Is your next destination in Sri Lanka the beach town of Mirissa? Read everything about this place here!

Coconut Three Hill sunrise close up Charlotte Mirissa

Fort Galle and Unawatuna

A nice day-trip from Mirissa is a visit to Fort Galle. This is an old Dutch fort from the seventeenth century. The fort is still in good condition, including houses, churches and other buildings. In most houses, which look very Dutch, are nice restaurants and shops nowadays. Some street names are also Old Dutch such as the Kerkstraat. By scooter, we drive to Fort Galle in less than an hour. We walk around for a few hours, visit the “Groote kerk”, see the old prison and the lighthouse. We soon find out that today is a National holiday, it is very busy on the fort and unfortunately many museums are closed.

Galle Lighthouse

The Dalawella beach

When the crowds and the burning sun become too much for us, we drive to the beach of Unawatuna. In old travel guides, this place is described as a beautiful bay with a few facilities and few tourists. But nowadays this has become a busy beach place with large beach bars, restaurants and a lot of tourists! Not quite our thing so soon we drive to the smaller beach of Dalawella, where it is much quieter, perfect to enjoy the sea for a while.

Delawella Beach Ries struggling with life

The last hours in Mirissa

Back in Mirissa we eat delicious sushi at Little Tuna and work in our hotel for a few more hours. We spend our last morning on a new beach. At Weligama Beach, Ries rents a surfboard to catch some last waves while I’m reading in the sun.

Surf beach Mirissa

And then, unfortunately, it’s time to leave Sri Lanka. We travel to Colombo airport by tuk-tuk, bus and taxi. It is still exciting because Ries is almost refused to board the plane to Malaysia (he had not yet bought a transit ticket from Malaysia which seems you need these days otherwise you are not allowed the board the plane), but in the end, we take off, on our way to Kuala Lumpur!

Sri Lanka was a blast! It is easy to travel, is very diverse and a relatively cheap destination. I thought it would be great to stay here for another month and I am sure we will be back again! But now Malaysia first!

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