Visiting Bomburu Ella Falls in Sri Lanka
“I used to work in a garment factory in Kollupitiya (Colombo 03). I got married, and my in-laws told me to stay home. I run this small shop here now. Some days, before the Easter Sunday attacks, we used to sell more than 1000 rotis. It’s slowly improving, but the crowds are very low now.”
We had just bought two glasses of fresh passion fruit juice and lime juice. The aunty who runs the shop tells us about her past in Colombo and reminds us of how dependent we are of tourism. We are back from a small hike from Bomburu Falls (or Bomburu Ella). It’s safe to say it’s our favorite waterfall in Sri Lanka.
Early mornings in Nuwara Eliya
It was a beautiful Monday morning. We woke up in our friend’s house in Blackpool — a small village about 4km from Nuwara Eliya. Blackpool, compared to Nuwara Eliya town, is colder. Mist envelopes the far-flung mountains, and morning dew slowly kisses the decaying broccoli plants our host uncle had grown.
“A kilo goes for 2000 rupees, we grow it for Chinese tourists. It’s not successful this time. I gave much of the harvest to my neighbors,” says Siddique, our host, and he gives us a bag full of broccoli. Siddique takes care of our friends’ BnB when he’s not home.
Our tuk is finally here. We take a scenic route to reach the Nuwara Eliya – Welimada Road, passing colonial-era tea gardens, eucalyptus trees where mist journeys like an old mystic character from Russian children’s fantasies, and pink daisies dance to the chilly mountain breeze.
On Welimada Main Road, we stop at a tiny family-run hole-in-the-wall. We gobble up some freshly made, piping hot pol roti with chicken curry, coconut sambal and quietly sip plain tea as hill country puppies play with each other.
Back on the road, we go past the famous Haggala Botanical Gardens, and towards the Bomburu Ella Village. “There’s a viewpoint,” our tuk uncle shows us. A few kilometers from our BnB and we are now officially in Badulla district.
It’s now drier, the sun shines happily and slowly peaks over the distant hills. He shows us paddy terraces far away, Buddhist stupas painted in white and small houses on hilltops which often appears in our dreams.
Hike to Bomburu Ella Waterfall
From the Main Road, it’s a small hike to the Bomburu Ella Falls. As you climb up from the Main Road, the next one kilometer is a slow, casual walk. You will see several small, makeshift stalls along the way where you could stop for corn on the cob, Sri Lankan pancakes (crepes stuffed with caramelized scraped coconut), plain tea with jaggery and fresh fruit juice to kill the midday heat.
As in most hikes we’ve done, we meet a doggo here. We name him ‘Brownie’. Brownie shows us the path and guides us to the lower falls. As we reach the lower falls, a lazy dry country drizzle embraces us. After some quick photos, we join Brownie as he’s ready to take us to the beautiful upper falls.
But, hey, Brownie had other plans.
He starts running through the tree-clad jungle and disappears. Abandoned by our cute doggo guide, we start walking uphill. As you climb up, the path becomes a little unclear. You have to maneuver past boulders to reach the bottom of the upper falls and cross little streams where rain-fed moss resides in.
Bomburu Ella is truly a gorgeous waterfall. As we keep our backpacks and lie down watching the descending cascade, a wedding pre-shoot goes on. Next minute, Brownie appears from the jungle, cross the boulder path to greet us again. Nathan and I spend good two hours there, and a group of university students and nearby villagers come for a dip. Despite warning signs, they swim in the bottom pool.
We walk back to the Main Road where our tuk driver waits for us, and he shares us some homegrown guava, and sourish, green-skinned passion fruit with a yellow tinge.
How to go to Bomburu Ella: Bomburu Ella Falls isn’t far from Newark Eliya Town, however, public transport is always not a convenient option. There are only a few buses a day which goes to the Bomburu Ella Village from Nuwara Eliya. If you are not on a budget, hire a tuk tuk from the entire journey. It will cost you 1500-2000 LKR.
Using public transport to reach Bomburu Ella Waterfall: If you are on a budget, take a Badulla or Welimada bus from Nuwara Eliya town. Follow Google Maps, and after 1.5 km from Haggala Botanical Gardens, you’ve to get off the bus at a small junction. You’ve to take the road on your left side. It’s 6-7km from there to the falls. Here, hop on a tuk tuk. It should cost you 400-500 LKR.
Your tuk tuk doesn’t need to wait for you as there are tuk tuks parked near the falls and you can hop on one to get back to the Nuwara Eliya – Welimada Road.
Alternatively, you could wait for the Bomburu Ella Village bus coming from Welimada side. There are only a few buses a day on this route.
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