Yala NPElla-Kandy, Sri Lanka

Journey Through Sri Lanka's Tea Core

In 2rd Class
2nd Class passengers on the Ella - Kandy train.
tropical freshness
Sri Lankan bathers refresh themselves in the waterfalls of Ravona.
On the way to the countryside
Peasant woman drives two cows across the railhead of the Nine Arches Bridge.
A Bridge with 9 Arches
Composition crosses the Nine Arches Bridge, a few km from Ella station.
the stationmaster
The head of Ella's train station, in his office.
Standby mode
Sri Lankan family waits at Ella train station.
human trains
Passengers leave Ella station on the rails.
Sri Lanka cha plantation
A patchwork of the vast tea plantations on either side of the line in the area between Ella and Kandy.
An Audience On Board
Passengers enjoy the view from the train's doors and windows.
In 2rd Class
2nd Class passengers on the Ella - Kandy train.
Passengers at the train window Ella Kandy-Sri Lanka
Passengers refresh themselves from open windows and outside windows.
the most obvious way
Pedestrian walks on the line at the exit of Nanu Oya station.
a risky air
Passengers lean out of the train at the entrance to a tunnel.
The Driving Machine
Locomotive outside Nanu Oya station.
Hanging passengers-Ella Kandi-Sri Lanka Train
Passengers hanging from the train held at a station.
We leave the seafront of PN Yala towards Ella. On the way to Nanu Oya, we wind on rails through the jungle, among plantations in the famous Ceylon. Three hours later, again by car, we enter Kandy, the Buddhist capital that the Portuguese never managed to dominate.

We spent the early morning and early morning wandering around the forest of PN Yala, looking for its ever-elusive leopards.

Around noon, owners and masters of ill-gotten photographs of specimens that were too far away or too hidden, we returned to the company of driver Ari and inaugurated the route that would take us to Ella.

We pass Kataragama, Sella and the local Hindu temple where the faithful praise Lord Ganesh. After a few kilometers on the same road, we come across real elephants, busy devouring fruits from trees on the side of the asphalt.

At Buttala, we turn west. A few minutes later, Ari announces Wellawaya and, soon, the first stop worthy of the name: “There, we're here in Buduruwagala.

This is one of the oldest and most important Buddhist shrines in Sri Lanka. They usually close early, so we came faster and more direct. Have fun, I'll be here."

Buddhist Monk, sculptures from Buduruwagala, Sri Lanka

Buddhist monk visiting the ancient sculptures of Buduruwagala.

Stopover at Buduruwagala, a Thousand-Year Buddhist Shrine

Not that it was necessary, but the sequence Sella-Kataragama – Buduruwagala once again brought to light the religious complexity of the Sinhalese nation.

At the late hour when we entered the Buduruwagala space, the surrounding natural stronghold seemed to be on our own.

Millennial, the monument consists of seven images carved side by side on the face of a great rock blackened by time. Six of them appear lined up beside a now-whitened Avalokitesvara Buddha, Sri Lanka's largest Buddha sculpture. One of them is believed to represent Tara, the consort of the Buddha.

A closer look at the wide surface of the boulder proves that we had company after all. In a corner, each seated on his rounded rock, two Buddhist monks admired the sculptures.

Out of respect for their reverent peace, we kept our distance, but when one of them walked over the stone slab at the base of the monument and prostrated himself at the base of the great praying Buddha, we took the opportunity to enrich the images we carried from there with a precious scale and human relationship.

The monks were not long in disbanding. Pressed by the path that still lay ahead, we followed their example.

The Slow and Winding Rise for Ella

Gradually, we leave the flat lands of the south and inaugurate a winding and slow ascent to Ella's thousand meters of altitude. Along the way, the mountain jungle thickened before our eyes. It was irrigated by countless veins that carried the water poured back to the Indian Ocean by the persistent rains.

Slowly, slowly, held back by successive Tata lorries (but not only), we reached a meander of the road crossed by one of these streams, frequented by dozens of Sri Lankans who came out of exuberantly painted excursion buses.

Sri Lankan bathers, Ravona, Sri Lanka

Sri Lankan bathers refresh themselves in the waterfalls of Ravona.

The Melodramatic Delight of Ravana Falls

Ari stops the car. He advises us to take extra care as we walk over the polished stones that lined the steep course of the waterfalls above, the Ravana Falls.

“Every year someone slips there and already several tourists, even foreigners, have ended up dying. Thirty-six so far, believe it or not. The authorities should have done something to this place by now… “

Despite the drama of the alert, we dedicated ourselves to admiring and recording more than just the waterfalls themselves, the bathing frenzy generated by the visiting Sri Lankans, given up to thorough baths in sari or loincloths (depending on the gender) under fountains fallen from small ponds, or in well-disposed coexistences in the lakes which were then almost shallow, supplied by the waterfalls.

Attentive as we are to the tumults and commotions of bathers, monkeys sinics Sri Lankan endemic fluffs stalked the best opportunities to steal the tidbits and possessions of inattentive human cousins.

Ella was only five kilometers away, twenty minutes of final turns and counter-turns. By then, the early awakening was taking its toll. As he also claimed Ari.

Accordingly, we returned to the car and completed the route to the guest houses hidden in which we had booked a stay.

We installed ourselves and gave the driver the freedom he had longed for, with the painful commitment to pick us up again at eight in the morning.

Peasant and cows, Nine Arches Bridge, Sri Lanka

Peasant woman drives two cows across the railhead of the Nine Arches Bridge.

The Railway Epic of the Ella – Kandy Railroad Stretch

At that same hour, we put our bags in the trunk of the car, after which Ari left us at the entrance of a detour that led to a valley crossed by the tracks of the Ella-Kandy railway route. We knew that the train was passing over a colonial-era bridge, Ponte dos Nine Arcos.

After a descent down a goat path to the rail level. We install ourselves in a privileged place to enjoy it. In the process, successive peasants crossed the so-called Bridge in Heaven, some of them leading cows.

Finally, around 9:20 am, the convoy appeared from the covert curve that precedes the structure. First, a long, powerful locomotive.

Little by little, the eleven carriages pulled by the machine, the whole of a pale blue that stood out from the surrounding vegetal-tropical panorama.

Composition on Nine Arches Bridge, Ella, Sri Lanka

Composition crosses the Nine Arches Bridge, a few km from Ella station.

We were far from being the only ones dedicated to that program. On other slopes subsumed in the vegetation, on balconies and terraces made with panoramic views of restaurants and inns around it, several other foreigners admired the railway film.

Brief contact with Sri Lankan Authority

On either side of the bridge, two policemen in traditional Sri Lankan mustard-colored uniforms controlled the movements of the outsiders in order to prevent their photographic misadventures from ending up in tragedy.

After descending from the unstable perch we had chosen, we sat in a makeshift bar in the forest, between the bridge and the tunnel that followed. there we drink two weary in conversation with JMWS Karunarathne and AWM Nandasena, the authority duo assigned to the bridge.

Invigorated by the rest and by the yoghurt-refreshment, we followed the tracks until Ella station, a mere 2km away, where we would board the train.

As expected, tourist and 2nd Class seats with a seat booked were sold out. We buy tickets for 2nd Class Normal and we are subject to the unexpected.

Ella's Fascinating Station

During the new wait for the train, we made life at Ella station a delicious cultural trip.

We duck into the stationmaster's picturesque office and photograph him, proud of his rank, beneath framed photos of the Sri Lankan president, with a small Sri Lankan flag on his mahogany desk.

Head of Ella Railway Station, Sri Lanka

The head of Ella's train station, in his office.

We examined with inevitable ethno-religious curiosity, the entrance on the platform of a Muslim family, its three women covered by chadars blacks.

However, the sudden appearance of the composition interrupted the banter of a group of Indian friends on the rails and generated a frenzied scramble for the edge of the platform.

Finally, on board and on the way

More confusion, less confusion, we managed to install ourselves at the door of one of the carriages that the absolute relaxation of the Sri Lankan state railway company allowed us – like so many other young acrobat passengers – to keep open, serving as perches and providential ventilation for the vendors of food that walked from one end of the composition to the other without rest.

Passengers, Train Ella Kandy, Sri Lanka

2nd Class passengers on the Ella – Kandy train.

The convoy flowed with a smoothness compromised by the many meanders imposed by the mountain range and the successive tunnels that perforate it.

The initial stretch of the route was made through a somewhat parched jungle, preceded by banana and papaya trees along the waterfront.

At a certain point, already at a higher altitude, it flows between vast and undulating tea plantations, the same ones perfected by the British settlers and who continue to produce and export the famous tea from Ceylon, such as the reputable and endless Edinburgh State .

Badulla, Ohiya, Pattipola, Ambwela, the seasons followed.

At each stop, the composition renewed its people, the saris, the men's shiny shirts, the bags, bundles and parcels thrown on both sides of the carriages with the usual emergence and audacity of these overcrowded stops.

Two little painters newly boarded on board are delighted with our photographic commotion.

Without shame or ceremony, they demand our attention with poses and more stylish poses behind youthful smiles and cheap glasses pretending to be an aviator.

In these and other entertainments, we don't notice the arrival at the stop where Ari was waiting for us. Only the strident warning communicated, via loudspeakers, by the stationmaster saves us from proceeding in vain.

Early Disembarkation at Nanu Oya

We had already gone through the really unmissable section of the Ella-Kandy section that Lonely Planet sensationally classified as “The Most Beautiful Train Trip in the World”. Accordingly, largely on Ari's advice, we left on Nanu Oya.

We didn't find the driver either first or second. We've given up looking for him.

We see the villagers walking on the rails as if it were a trail and we emulate their smooth steps. We ended up photographing the red composition that we had abandoned crossing another local bridge.

Ari appeared out of nowhere. Or rather – so we calculated – another one of his frequent masala chais. We returned to the hybrid car in which we were driving and to the asphalt.

It was two in the afternoon. Kandy was 85km away, three hours in the worst case. We warned Ari that we would continue unhurriedly, with the necessary stops, even if we arrived at night. No sooner said than done.

Two in the afternoon: Time for the Discovery of Sinhalese Tea

we crossed Nuwara Eliya, other hill station post-colonial teeming with tea, at the moment, covered by a blanket of mist that irrigated the verdant plantations.

A further kilometers to the north, we stop at the Glen Loch tea factory, also symptomatic of the Scottish colonial predominance of these parts.

Ari parks and leaves us to the service guide, Shiva Kala of her name, a Sinhalese but goddess of destruction, time and death (like the gods who had inspired her baptism) at least divine; the most beautiful and charming woman we had ever met in Sri Lanka, we agreed shortly afterwards, without too much friction.

We follow her and her smiling narratives. We smell green tea leaves. We compare them with other tostadas, made by black people. We taste a series of aromatic infusions and peek into the store well stocked with boxes and bags with appealing designs.

We were the last visitors to the factory, on an afternoon that had turned rainy.

The Ultimate Kilometers for Kandy

We reckon that, smiles aside, Shiva Kala would be willing to exchange us for his family, and we do his bidding.

We arrived in Kandy at quarter past eight at night, a late hour that left Ari apprehensive about the journeys to come. To compensate, we let him take us to a hotel where he could stay for free. We regret it in three times.

In any case, we were in Kandy, in the heart of Ceylon, in the historic City-Kingdom that Portugal never managed to subdue and that, from the XNUMXth century and the Dutch conquest of Galle fort, precipitated the collapse of Portuguese Ceylon,

Siliguri a Darjeeling, India

The Himalayan Toy Train Still Running

Neither the steep slope of some stretches nor the modernity stop it. From Siliguri, in the tropical foothills of the great Asian mountain range, the Darjeeling, with its peaks in sight, the most famous of the Indian Toy Trains has ensured for 117 years, day after day, an arduous dream journey. Traveling through the area, we climb aboard and let ourselves be enchanted.
Sigiriya, Sri Lanka

The Capital Fortress of a Parricide King

Kashyapa I came to power after walling up his father's monarch. Afraid of a probable attack by his brother heir to the throne, he moved the main city of the kingdom to the top of a granite peak. Today, his eccentric haven is more accessible than ever and has allowed us to explore the Machiavellian plot of this Sri Lankan drama.
On Rails

Train Travel: The World Best on Rails

No way to travel is as repetitive and enriching as going on rails. Climb aboard these disparate carriages and trains and enjoy the best scenery in the world on Rails.
Fianarantsoa-Manakara, Madagascar

On board the Malagasy TGV

We depart Fianarantsoa at 7a.m. It wasn't until 3am the following morning that we completed the 170km to Manakara. The natives call this almost secular train Train Great Vibrations. During the long journey, we felt, very strongly, those of the heart of Madagascar.
Galle, Sri Lanka

Galle Fort: A Portuguese and then Dutch (His) story

Camões immortalized Ceylon as an indelible landmark of the Discoveries, where Galle was one of the first fortresses that the Portuguese controlled and yielded. Five centuries passed and Ceylon gave way to Sri Lanka. Galle resists and continues to seduce explorers from the four corners of the Earth.
Nesbyen to Flam, Norway

Flam Railway: Sublime Norway from the First to the Last Station

By road and aboard the Flam Railway, on one of the steepest railway routes in the world, we reach Flam and the entrance to the Sognefjord, the largest, deepest and most revered of the Scandinavian fjords. From the starting point to the last station, this monumental Norway that we have unveiled is confirmed.
Ushuaia, Argentina

Last Station: End of the World

Until 1947, the Tren del Fin del Mundo made countless trips for the inmates of the Ushuaia prison to cut firewood. Today, passengers are different, but no other train goes further south.
Cairns-Kuranda, Australia

Train to the Middle of the Jungle

Built out of Cairns to save miners isolated in the rainforest from starvation by flooding, the Kuranda Railway eventually became the livelihood of hundreds of alternative Aussies.
Tokyo, Japan

Tokyo's Hypno-Passengers

Japan is served by millions of executives slaughtered with infernal work rates and sparse vacations. Every minute of respite on the way to work or home serves them for their inemuri, napping in public.
Kandy, Sri Lanka

The Dental Root of Sinhalese Buddhism

Located in the mountainous heart of Sri Lanka, at the end of the XNUMXth century, Kandy became the capital of the last kingdom of old Ceylon and resisted successive colonial conquest attempts. The city also preserved and exhibited a sacred tooth of the Buddha and, thus, became Ceylon's Buddhist center.
Rhinoceros, PN Kaziranga, Assam, India
PN Kaziranga, India

The Indian Monoceros Stronghold

Situated in the state of Assam, south of the great Brahmaputra river, PN Kaziranga occupies a vast area of ​​alluvial swamp. Two-thirds of the rhinocerus unicornis around the world, there are around 100 tigers, 1200 elephants and many other animals. Pressured by human proximity and the inevitable poaching, this precious park has not been able to protect itself from the hyperbolic floods of the monsoons and from some controversies.
Muktinath to Kagbeni, Annapurna Circuit, Nepal, Kagbeni
Annapurna (circuit)
Annapurna Circuit 14th - Muktinath to Kagbeni, Nepal

On the Other Side of the Pass

After the demanding crossing of Thorong La, we recover in the cozy village of Muktinath. The next morning we proceed back to lower altitudes. On the way to the ancient kingdom of Upper Mustang and the village of Kagbeni that serves as its gateway.
Mother Armenia Statue, Yerevan, Armenia
Architecture & Design
Yerevan, Armenia

A Capital between East and West

Heiress of the Soviet civilization, aligned with the great Russia, Armenia allows itself to be seduced by the most democratic and sophisticated ways of Western Europe. In recent times, the two worlds have collided in the streets of your capital. From popular and political dispute, Yerevan will dictate the new course of the nation.

Mountains of Fire

More or less prominent ruptures in the earth's crust, volcanoes can prove to be as exuberant as they are capricious. Some of its eruptions are gentle, others prove annihilating.
Saida Ksar Ouled Soltane, festival of the ksour, tataouine, tunisia
Ceremonies and Festivities
Tataouine, Tunisia

Festival of the Ksour: Sand Castles That Don't Collapse

The ksour were built as fortifications by the Berbers of North Africa. They resisted Arab invasions and centuries of erosion. Every year, the Festival of the Ksour pays them the due homage.
Vaquero enters a street lined with young palm trees.
Álamos, Sonora, Mexico

Three Centuries among "Álamos" and Andalusian Portals

Founded in 1685, after the discovery of silver veins, Álamos developed based on an Andalusian urban structure and architecture. With the end of silver, his other wealth gained him. A genuineness and post-colonial tranquility that sets it apart from the state of Sonora and the vast west of Mexico.
Cocoa, Chocolate, Sao Tome Principe, Agua Izé farm
São Tomé and Principe

Cocoa Roças, Corallo and the Chocolate Factory

At the beginning of the century. In the XNUMXth century, São Tomé and Príncipe generated more cocoa than any other territory. Thanks to the dedication of some entrepreneurs, production survives and the two islands taste like the best chocolate.
Lhasa, Tibet

When Buddhism Tires of Meditation

It is not only with silence and spiritual retreat that one seeks Nirvana. At the Sera Monastery, the young monks perfect their Buddhist knowledge with lively dialectical confrontations and crackling clapping of hands.
Bungee jumping, Queenstown, New Zealand
Queenstown, New Zealand

Queenstown, the Queen of Extreme Sports

In the century. XVIII, the Kiwi government proclaimed a mining village on the South Island "fit for a queen".Today's extreme scenery and activities reinforce the majestic status of ever-challenging Queenstown.
Erika Mother

The Philippine Road Lords

With the end of World War II, the Filipinos transformed thousands of abandoned American jeeps and created the national transportation system. Today, the exuberant jeepneys are for the curves.
Meeting of the waters, Manaus, Amazonas, Brazil
Manaus, Brazil

Meeting the Meeting of the Waters

The phenomenon is not unique, but in Manaus it has a special beauty and solemnity. At a certain point, the Negro and Solimões rivers converge on the same Amazonas bed, but instead of immediately mixing, both flows continue side by side. As we explore these parts of the Amazon, we witness the unusual confrontation of the Encontro das Águas.
Rainbow in the Grand Canyon, an example of prodigious photographic light
Got2Globe Photo Portfolio
Natural Light (Part 1)

And Light was made on Earth. Know how to use it.

The theme of light in photography is inexhaustible. In this article, we give you some basic notions about your behavior, to start with, just and only in terms of geolocation, the time of day and the time of year.
Sheets of Bahia, Eternal Diamonds, Brazil
Sheets of Bahia, Brazil

Lençóis da Bahia: not Even Diamonds Are Forever

In the XNUMXth century, Lençóis became the world's largest supplier of diamonds. But the gem trade did not last as expected. Today, the colonial architecture that he inherited is his most precious possession.
Friends in Little Venice, Mykonos
Mykonos, Greece

The Greek Island Where the World Celebrates Summer

During the 1960th century Mykonos was once just a poor island, but by XNUMX Cycladic winds of change transformed it. First, at the main gay shelter in the Mediterranean. Then, at the crowded, cosmopolitan and bohemian vanity fair that we find when we visit.
Horses under a snow, Iceland Never Ending Snow Island Fire
Winter White
Husavik a Myvatn, Iceland

Endless Snow on the Island of Fire

When, in mid-May, Iceland already enjoys some sun warmth but the cold and snow persist, the inhabitants give in to an intriguing summer anxiety.
Kukenam reward
Mount Roraima, Venezuela

Time Travel to the Lost World of Mount Roraima

At the top of Mount Roraima, there are extraterrestrial scenarios that have resisted millions of years of erosion. Conan Doyle created, in "The Lost World", a fiction inspired by the place but never got to step on it.
Cahuita National Park, Costa Rica, Caribbean, Punta Cahuita aerial view
Cahuita, Costa Rica

Dreadlocked Costa Rica

Traveling through Central America, we explore a Costa Rican coastline as much as the Caribbean. In Cahuita, Pura Vida is inspired by an eccentric faith in Jah and a maddening devotion to cannabis.
Sheki, Autumn in the Caucasus, Azerbaijan, Autumn Homes
Sheki, Azerbaijan

autumn in the caucasus

Lost among the snowy mountains that separate Europe from Asia, Sheki is one of Azerbaijan's most iconic towns. Its largely silky history includes periods of great harshness. When we visited it, autumn pastels added color to a peculiar post-Soviet and Muslim life.
Dunes of Bazaruto Island, Mozambique
Natural Parks
bazaruto, Mozambique

The Inverted Mirage of Mozambique

Just 30km off the East African coast, an unlikely but imposing erg rises out of the translucent sea. Bazaruto it houses landscapes and people who have lived apart for a long time. Whoever lands on this lush, sandy island soon finds himself in a storm of awe.
Jerusalem God, Israel, Golden City
UNESCO World Heritage
Jerusalem, Israel

Closer to God

Three thousand years of history as mystical as it is troubled come to life in Jerusalem. Worshiped by Christians, Jews and Muslims, this city radiates controversy but attracts believers from all over the world.
View from the top of Mount Vaea and the tomb, Vailima village, Robert Louis Stevenson, Upolu, Samoa
Upolu, Samoa

Stevenson's Treasure Island

At age 30, the Scottish writer began looking for a place to save him from his cursed body. In Upolu and the Samoans, he found a welcoming refuge to which he gave his heart and soul.
Dominican Republic, Bahia de Las Águilas Beach, Pedernales. Jaragua National Park, Beach
Lagoa Oviedo a Bahia de las Águilas, Dominican Republic

In Search of the Immaculate Dominican Beach

Against all odds, one of the most unspoiled Dominican coastlines is also one of the most remote. Discovering the province of Pedernales, we are dazzled by the semi-desert Jaragua National Park and the Caribbean purity of Bahia de las Águilas.
Bride gets in car, traditional wedding, Meiji temple, Tokyo, Japan
Tokyo, Japan

A Matchmaking Sanctuary

Tokyo's Meiji Temple was erected to honor the deified spirits of one of the most influential couples in Japanese history. Over time, it specialized in celebrating traditional weddings.
Serra do Mar train, Paraná, airy view
On Rails
Curitiba a Morretes, Paraná, Brazil

Down Paraná, on Board the Train Serra do Mar

For more than two centuries, only a winding and narrow road connected Curitiba to the coast. Until, in 1885, a French company opened a 110 km railway. We walked along it to Morretes, the final station for passengers today. 40km from the original coastal terminus of Paranaguá.
aggie gray, Samoa, South Pacific, Marlon Brando Fale
Apia, Western Samoa

The Host of the South Pacific

She sold burguês to GI's in World War II and opened a hotel that hosted Marlon Brando and Gary Cooper. Aggie Gray passed away in 2. Her legacy lives on in the South Pacific.
Casario, uptown, Fianarantsoa, ​​Madagascar
Daily life
Fianarantsoa, Madagascar

The Malagasy City of Good Education

Fianarantsoa was founded in 1831 by Ranavalona Iª, a queen of the then predominant Merina ethnic group. Ranavalona Iª was seen by European contemporaries as isolationist, tyrant and cruel. The monarch's reputation aside, when we enter it, its old southern capital remains as the academic, intellectual and religious center of Madagascar.
Curieuse Island, Seychelles, Aldabra turtles
Felicité Island and Curieuse Island, Seychelles

From Leprosarium to Giant Turtles Home

In the middle of the XNUMXth century, it remained uninhabited and ignored by Europeans. The French Ship Expedition “La Curieuse” revealed it and inspired his baptism. The British kept it a leper colony until 1968. Today, Île Curieuse is home to hundreds of Aldabra tortoises, the longest-lived land animal.
The Sounds, Fiordland National Park, New Zealand
Scenic Flights
Fiordland, New Zealand

The Fjords of the Antipodes

A geological quirk made the Fiordland region the rawest and most imposing in New Zealand. Year after year, many thousands of visitors worship the sub-domain slashed between Te Anau and Milford Sound.