Not just for train spotters, Nine Arch Bridge has now become an Instagrammer's favourite. When you see this place for the first time, it's easy to see why. The bridge is extremely picturesque and couldn't have been built in a more beautiful spot, surrounded by jungle and tea fields.
It is arguably the highlight of a trip to Ella and we loved spending a couple of hours here taking it all in.
There's lots of things to consider for getting some great shots, including crowds, lighting and train times. Here's our guide on how to make the most of your trip to Nine Arch Bridge and all the stunning viewpoints you shouldn't miss.
How to get to Nine Arch Bridge
There are three access point to the bridge and the main difference is how much walking you want to do. The first is to walk from Ella station.
This takes about 45 minutes and you walk along the train tracks. This is a flat walk but is also the longest option.
The second is to walk down from the road via the entry point shown on the map below. This section can be a little tricky to navigate in the dark (if you're heading there for sunrise), but it otherwise drops you at the southern end of the bridge.
This is walkable from town but it's a fair distance and it's easier to get a tuk tuk to drop you at the sign posted point where you follow the path from the main road.
The third access point is by tuk-tuk, dropping you at the northern end (shown on the map below). This involves the least walking, but is the steepest and has a couple of slippery patches. We chose this as time was against us at sunrise! We hadn't booked a tuk tuk in advance and I suppose unsurprisingly there was hardly any around at 5am. It took us over half an hour to find one, moral of the story is to definitely book in advance!
The access route not to take
Any tuk tuk driver promising to drop you at the bridge itself will take you on a very lengthy detour and charge quite a lot. You can literally drive up to the bridge, but you'll go via Baudulla and it takes over 30 minutes to do so. A tuk tuk driver is likely to charge 1,000 rupees to take you on a very convoluted trip. We were warned against this route.
Nine Arch Bridge Viewpoints
There are several viewpoints for the bridge, but there are three which are our favourites.
If you're going to Nine Arch Bridge for sunrise, then we recommend heading to the southern end first (the end that's closest to the tunnel).
To the left of the tunnel as you face it, there's a path that leads up the hill and to a clearing.
This is a great place to watch the valley light up as the sun rises behind the mountains. You'll have the beautiful curve of the bridge in front of you as well.
This clearing is directly off the path, you can't miss it. The walk up from the bridge is just a few minutes.
Northern end in the tea field
The northern end of the bridge is the most popular as you can dive into the tea fields and get close to the base of the bridge.
There are plenty of angles here that create great shots, whether that's having someone stand on top of the bridge or have someone at the bottom to give scale.
Just be careful getting down to the tea field as it is steep and slippery. We suddenly had a lot more sympathy for the conditions the tea pickers have to work in.
Northern end at the viewpoint cafe
If you want to meet the nicest person in Ella, then head to the cafe with a glorious viewpoint at the northern side of the bridge.
We met Nandana and his family who own the cafe, they were so incredibly friendly and all round great people.
Nandana knew that we had got up really early to watch sunrise and thought we'd be hungry and gave us a free packet of biscuits! We had a great time chatting to him for an hour and of course admiring the amazing view.
To get here, head to the northern end of the bridge (the side without the tunnel). Look for a dirt path to the right and head upwards. You'll pass a small building with a blue roof and then a large opening. This is where you can get a cold drink and enjoy the view!
Nine Arch Bridge Train Times
Trains go in both directions throughout the day and on average there's one every two hours.
You'll get the blue passenger trains or the red cargo ones that go from Colombo to Nuwara Eliya.
It is worth keeping in mind that the train times are really only a guideline as Sri Lankan trains never run on time!
Check the highlighted times on the timetable below for a rough estimate of when the train will cross the Nine Arch Bridge.
The best time to go to Nine Arch Bridge
Sunrise is by far the best time to go to Nine Arch Bridge. Not only is it peaceful and the light is stunning, but you won't see any one else.
We arrived at 6am and half an hour to ourselves before four other people turned up for the next hour. Then came the masses.
You'll need to wait until 6.30 for the sun to fully rise above the hills and illuminate the bridge and valley, but getting there at sunrise will help you to get your bearings.
We were told that it gets insanely busy after 11am when tourists from Ella and around the area begin to make their day trip to the bridge.
Our Camera Gear
Our brand of choice for camera gear has been Canon for many years and we love their L-Series lenses. Whilst they are heavier than some other brands, the image results are worth the additional weight. Weâ€™ve also used a few drones in our time (check out our guide to which drone to buy here) but currently own a DJI Mavic Pro.
Here’s the camera gear we use the most:
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Have you been to Ella? Would you make a sunrise mission to the Nine Arch Bridge? Let us know in the comments below!
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