Sometimes it’s better to trust the locals instead of your phone…
We wanted to visit Ella Rock and just started following the route Maps.me told us to. Maps.me had been working great for us during our trip and we didn’t expect it otherwise this time. But soon we started to get lost for the first time that day. The path we saw on our phone was nowhere to be found and we ended up in someone’s garden. An old lady who didn’t speak any English showed us the way but soon we realized that she was going to take us all the way to Ella Rock (bare feet for 1 more hour) and she was going to let us pay. So we gave her 50 rupees and sent her back because ‘we didn’t need any help’ . We kept on following the path that took us through tea plantations and along the edge of the mountain, but at some point we got back on the right track that took us all the way to Ella Rock. So far so good.
Going back we thought we would take a different route because obviously, the one we took on the way to Ella Rock was not really the official one, since it was going through someone’s garden. I checked Maps.me again and we started walking an alternative route that led us through a forest, some more tea plantations and then back into someone else’s garden. We were very close to the path we should’ve taken but the locals didn’t let us through, unless we paid them of course, so we decided to go all the way back and follow the path that seemed more commonly taken. This went well and we came back to the coffee “shop” (hut) where we had re-freshened ourselves on the way up with a fresh and cold coconut. The owner pointed to the right path and a bit later we came on a crossing again.
The biggest, clearly mostly walked path went straight, but according to Maps.me there was a shortcut when taking the right path: which was a lot more narrow and overgrown with plants. We decided to take the shortcut, because why wouldn’t we? Well, there are many reasons not to take a shortcut when you are in a strange country but hey, Maps.me had never disappointed me. We took the right turn and soon the path became even smaller and smaller and at some point it wasn’t really clear if it even was a path. At this point the grass grew taller then us and we were literally trying to make our way through the plants with our hands in front of our faces.
But according to my phone we were almost there: on the bigger path that would take us back to Ella. But when we finally got out of the plants there was a river instead of a path. A farmer on the other side of the water saw us coming out of the field and looked worried. ‘We are lost’ we told him, which was a quite needless thing to say. ‘No good no good, many many cobra’s’ was his response. Great. He told us to walk to the left where we could cross the river and he led us all the way to the only official way to and form Ella Rock: the rail road. While he was leading us through some more grass he suddenly stopped at some point and we actually saw a little cobra sliding away in front of us. We passed another farmer’s house and the woman told us that many tourist get lost around there. At least we weren’t the only ones trusting Maps.me, I thought.
Finally back on track (haha) we quietly walked back to Ella, realizing we’d been really lucky that we weren’t attacked by any cobra’s while walking through the tall grass.
This is what happens when there are too little tourists to follow and you follow your phone.