Getting there & away
The road to Ella leaves the Bandarawela– Badulla road about 9km out of Bandarawela. Buses change schedule fairly often. A couple of old rogues hang around the bus stop asking for foreign coins and occasionally taking money from people to buy bus tickets – don’t trust them.
Buses to Bandarawela cost Rs 13 and are fairly frequent. There are infrequent buses to Badulla, although you can always get a bus to Bandarawela and change there for Badulla. It is advisable to catch intercity express buses to Bandarawela, Wellawaya and Badulla. To or from Kandy you must change at Badulla. Alternatively, you could go to Wellawaya, catch the intercity to Nuwara Eliya and then change again for Kandy.
Buses to Matara (CTB/intercity express Rs 80/150) stop at Ella around every hour from about 6.30am until about 2.30pm. The buses are likely to be quite full by the time they reach Ella, though the buses around noon are usually less busy. You can always catch a bus to Wellawaya (Rs 21) and change there for a service to the South or for Monaragala (for Arugam Bay).
It costs Rs 400 to go by taxi from Ella to Bandarawela.
Ella is an hour from Haputale and Badulla on the Colombo–Badulla line. The stretch from Haputale (through Bandarawela) has particularly lovely scenery. Roughly 10km north of Ella, at Demodara, the line performs a complete loop around a hillside and tunnels under itself at a level 30m lower. Ella’s train station is quaint, and the fares and timetables well posted.
The main trains to Colombo depart at 6.52am (Udarata Menike) and 9.47am (Podi Menike). These have a 1st-class observation car; seats inside the car should be booked ahead. Other trains to Colombo depart at 6.50am and 8.23pm (2nd class Rs 230); trains to Kandy (2nd class Rs 152) include departures at 1.07pm and 6.50pm. Destinations on the Kandy line include Bandarawela (Rs 13), Haputale (Rs 23), Nanu Oya (for Nuwara Eliya; Rs 63) and Hatton (Rs 92). Badulla (2nd class Rs 18) departures are at 5.28am, 7.55am, 1.47pm, 3.08pm, 3.28pm (Podi Menike) and 6.09pm (Udarata Menike).