This route is the longest of all but probably the most rewarding due to the spectacular views of the Sri Lankan hill country. The final part from Ella to Arugam Bay must be taken by road, and will involve 2 or maybe 3 buses. Depending on waiting times this part can take over 5 hours so it might be worth staying overnight and starting again early the next day.
There are multiple departure times from Colombo Fort; 5.55am, 8.30am, 9.45am and 8pm. The journey to Ella on average takes about 9 or 10 hours. The first train is recommended so that you see the final part of the journey (the most picturesque) during daylight hours.
Ella or Badulla
As the train arrives in Ella about one hour before Badulla and they are both a similar distance from Arugam Bay it is not really worth travelling to Badulla. For more information on the train options available visit seat61.com (opens in a new window).
The bus station in Ella is a 600m walk from the railway station; just turn left when you reach the main road. There are frequent departures to Monaragala (see the Latest Ella Bus Timetable) but you can also take two buses via Wellawaya if that bus is leaving first. From Monaragala you can take a direct bus to Pottuvil or, even better, one to Panama which stops in Arugam Bay. See the Colombo to Arugam Bay by Bus page for more information on arriving in Arugam Bay by bus.
See Reserve a Train Seat in Advance for more information.