The train Journey from Kandy to Ella is famous in Sri Lanka and not to be missed. This journey through the scenic hill country of Sri Lanka is simply stunning and will make you fall in love with this beautiful and tiny country.
I didn’t travel straight from Kandy to Ella because I got off in the middle to climb the beautiful Adam’s Peak. To be honest, I would recommend doing the same because as beautiful as the train ride is, it is long. The second half of the train ride was the most beautiful.
Part 1 – Kandy –> Hatton
My friend and I purchased 2nd class tickets in Kandy and eagerly awaited the train. We heard that the scenery on the way was beautiful so we were hoping to get window seats so that we could take it all in. We stood with our backpacks on and had a plan of attack in mind for how to claim our seats.
The train pulled up and we quickly ran to claim our spots. Unfortunately, no matter how quick or cunning our plan was we had no hope of finding a seat – the train was packed full. So instead of our spacious window seats that we were hoping for we were sitting on our backpacks in the middle of the aisle.
The most annoying part was that people kept walking down the middle of the train selling samosas and bread so we were constantly having to move out of their way or get stepped on.
Eventually, one boy got up from his seat. He didn’t get off the train so I think he just got up so that I could sit because he saw me craning my neck to look out the window. I sat down on the free spot next to an older gentleman who had the window seat. I nudged over so that my friend could join me – there was easily enough room for three people when we squished.
The rest of the carriage noticed what we did and eventually a few more people moved over so that the passengers who were standing could also sit down. We were pretty proud of the trend that we started.
As I looked out the window I could see the tail of our bright blue train making its way through the vivid green scenery surrounding us. It was such a picturesque moment that I didn’t want to miss the chance to capture it.
The only problem was that there was a man sitting between me and the window. I said excuse me and leaned over the man sitting next to me to stick my camera out the window for a photo. I felt a bit awkward but I just reminded myself that I paid a lot of money to come see Sri Lanka to experience moments like this. All of the locals who had window seats were just sleeping and didn’t seem bothered by the stunning view.
Then my friend handed me her camera because she wanted a picture too. The man – who was Sri Lankan and had probably taken this trip a million times – saw our desire to look out the window and offered to change spots with us. We giddily accepted his offer.
We only had a bit longer on the train but we enjoyed it by sticking our heads out of the window, feeling the warm breeze on our faces as we passed by the lush scenery that Sri Lanka is famous for.
Part 2- Hatton –> Ella
For this train trip we felt more prepared. We only purchased 3rd class tickets – since we learned your ticket has no say in where you sit. As we waited for the train we planned for our plan of attack. As soon as the train came we quickly jumped on and threw our bags onto the luggage rack so that it was easier for us to move around. All of the seats were already taken so we made our way to the doorway. There was a couple sitting in the doorway so we just sat on the ground behind them so that we could enjoy the scenic view through the open door.
Whenever people have the prime spot by the door they usually enjoy it by hanging out of it. The couple that was sitting by the door though didn’t even seem the least bit amused by the amazing spot that they had. Hanging out of the door on this train journey was on my bucket list so it was slowly breaking my heart to watch them chilling by the door casually looking out without even sticking so much as an arm out into the wind.
Eventually, being the pushy, brave and take-your-chance-when-you-can kinda girl, I asked if I could quickly sit by the door for a quick photograph. Luckily, they agreed. I sat on the edge of the train door with my feet hanging out of the train as we whizzed through the green hills. It was an amazing feeling! Sitting with my feet out of the train brought the experience from cool to AMAZING! I couldn’t believe how exhilarating and beautiful the change of seat made.
We took the photo and I had to go back to my old spot – now knowing how amazing the experience was that I was missing out on. We were very envious of the couples spots. We noticed, as they boringly (that’s not actually a word but go with it) looked out the door, that they were sitting far back from the ledge. Being the ballsy girl that I am I asked if they would mind if my friend and I just perched on the edge in front of them (since they weren’t even using that space). I figured that the worst thing that could happen is they would say no.
They reluctantly said yes. We jumped up with excitement and sat on the edge of the door with our feet flailing in the wind and the sun shining on our faces. We were loving life.
We felt kinda guilty at first but at the next stop some people got off the train and the couple was able to find a seat – which I think they enjoyed a lot more. Now we had a free reign of the train doorway. We were laughing as we turned corners and screaming as we entered through caves as we quickly tucked our feet in afraid that they would get cut off.
The train ride was quite exhilarating because we had to be on guard at all times for our safety. We figured that Sri Lanka wouldn’t build a track were you could get your feet or hands caught if they were hanging out of the train. Turns out that wasn’t true, as you can see in this video.
It was interesting seeing the environment change around us on our train journey through Sri Lanka. The scenery started off tropical and sunny with our train driving through tea plantations. As we approached Ella the terrain changed to a more forested area with a cooler climate. Both were stunning. My experience in Sri Lanka would not have been the same without this beautiful and invigorating journey.