Ella Odyssey Sri Lanka hill country train is on the track again

The Ella Odyssey Sri Lanka hill country train will be available every weekend starting from 13th Aug 2022. The department of Railway of Sri Lanka announced the plan to put their “Ella Odyssey” train back on track after a lapse of many months, which is a reason for tourism-related businesses in Ella to breathe a sigh of relief. This super-luxury intercity train is particularly launched to promote tourism in the hill country. Train travel is one of the favourite forms of travel among foreign travellers on their way to Ella from Colombo. The train journey between Colombo and Ella is considered to be one of the most scenic train journeys in the world. The train will be available every weekend starting from 13th Aug 2022.

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Ella Odyssey Sri Lanka hill country train

Hill country resort of Ella

Ella is a popular hill country resort in Sri Lanka, but compared to most other tourist resorts in the hill country such as Nuwara Eliya, Ella does not attract much crowd. Ella can be considered an off-beaten track tourist resort in Sri Lanka you don’t see hordes of travellers here like in other tourist resorts like Kandy and Nuwara Eliya. However, Ella is particularly popular among foreign travellers. Perhaps due to its mild climate, charming atmosphere with a large extent of forested lands. Ella is a laid-back village with a calm and serene atmosphere. Ella has a rugged terrain with mountains, valleys, tea plantations, rivers, waterfalls, streams and gardens. This geographical feature makes Ella a tempting spot for leisure travellers, nature lovers as well as adventure enthusiasts.

What to do in Ella?

If you are wondering what to do in Ella? it is an adventure, adventure and adventure. Ruggest terrain of Ella offers many ideal places for low adrenaline-pumping activities like trekking, hiking, and walking. Mountain climbing, trekking, hiking, rock climbing, caving, and bird watching are some of the popular activities in Ella. Ella is particularly popular for trekking and hiking and Ella offers a large number of trekking and hiking trails, therefore Ella is considered one of the best hiking and trekking sites in Sri Lanka. Ella is part of some Sri Lanka tour packages, especially those planned for nature and adventure lovers. Therefore, if you book a Sri Lanka nature tour or Sri Lanka adventure trip there is a good chance of visiting Ella. This holiday destination receives many hundreds of travellers every year. Therefore, tourism is an integral part of the livelihood of most people in the region and a large number of families depend on tourism for their income.

As of Aug 2022, most businesses in Ella are left high and dry due to the lack of foreign travellers. It is a direct result of political and economic turmoil on the island. Hoverer, with the sign of political stability and the economic revival under the new administration the stakeholders of the tourism industry, are awaiting optimism about their livelihood. With the re-launch of Ella Odyssey Sri Lanka hill country train, the people in Ella expect some improvement in their businesses.

Sri Lanka train trip to the hill country

The department of Railway of Sri Lanka announced the plan to put their “Ella Odyssey” train back on track after a lapse of many months, which is a reason for tourism-related businesses in Ella to breathe a sigh of relief. This super-luxury intercity train is particularly launched to promote tourism in the hill country. Train travel is one of the favourite forms of travel among foreign travellers on their way to Ella from Colombo.

The train journey between Colombo and Ella is considered to be one of the most scenic train journeys in the world. The train trip from Ella to Kandy is the most scenic and most popular train ride on the island due to the scenic beauty it offers. A large number of foreign travellers love it and they are particularly asking for it. Therefore, most Sri Lanka tour operators offer the hill country train journey as a standalone journey or combined with other tour packages eg “Sri Lanka Kandy trip with hill country train journey“.

The minister of Transport, Highway and Mass media, Bandula Gunawardena has directed the authorities to re-start the Ella odyssey in order to facilitate a luxury train journey for local and foreign travellers. The re-opening of booking for the Ella odyssey train is expected to help the revival of tourism in Ella.  

Ella Odyssey timetable

The train starts the journey from Colombo Fort railway station at 05.30 hrs. on every Saturday and is scheduled to reach its destination of Badulla at 15.55 hrs. The train leaves Badulla every Sunday at 09.50 hrs. and reaches Colombo at 19.20 hrs. The train stops at Gampaha, Veyangoda, Polgahawela, Rambukkana, Peradeniya, Kandy, Nawalapitiya, Nanu Oya (Nuwara Eliya), Haputale, Diyatalawa, Bandarawela, Ella and Badulla train stations.

The train also stops at many places apart from the main railway station in order to facilitate an enjoyable train journey. It will be stopping at St. Clair Falls, Great Western Railway Station, Elgin Falls, Pattipola Summit Level, Idalgashinna Railway Station, Demodara 9-Arch Bridge, and Demodara Bridge and tunnel.

New train timetable

The department of the railway of Sri Lanka has increased the number of train trips on the hill country railway track. This is mainly due to the increasing demand among travellers. From time to time the railway department increased the number of train journeys to Badulla from Colombo and vice-versa over the last few months. Accordingly, from Friday (16th) to Sunday (18th, the train will leave Colombo Fort railway station at 7:20 pm and reach Badulla at 5:30 am the next day. From the 17th to the 19th of September 2022 the train will depart from Badulla station at 7:30 pm and reach Colombo Fort station at 5:28 am the next day. This additional train service is put in place in addition to the regular night mail trains departing from Colombo Fort and Badulla every evening will run as scheduled, the Railway Department said.

Impact of political instability on the tourism industry in Sri Lanka

According to the information about 75% of businesses in Ella, it has taken a huge blow due to the prevailing tourism downturn. A large number of families depend on the tourism industry and small-scale tourism businesses such as restaurants, lodges, and homestays are dotted in the area. A large number of jobs from restaurant waiters, bartenders, and tour guides to taxi drivers have lost their main income.

The tourism industry of Sri Lanka collapsed with the eastern Sunday bomb blast in April 2018, and since then the industry has had not an opportunity to come to its original form. With Covid-19 the industry suffered a huge loss, which crippled the industry for more than 2 years. There was a slight development in the tourism industry from Nov 2021 however; it was a short-lived development until the social unrest was taken into the street due to the economic collapse on the island in April 2022.

However, there have been some changes in the economic and political front on the island over the last few months and people are optimistic about their future. As the local currency value is stabilized against the dollar the inflation has come to a manageable level. The government has reversed the policy of abstaining from to use of chemical fertilizer and had taken measures to import essential chemical fertilizer, therefore, there is an increase in agricultural products on the island.

Many industries such as Tourism, Textile, and Tea have recorded some improvement in the last few months. Tourists arrived on the island is jumped to more than 45000 in the month of July and a further improvement in figures expected over the next few months.     

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