Climbing Adam’s Peak – Sri Lanka’s holiest mountain

Climbing Adam’s Peak

Adam’s Peak in Sri Lanka makes thousands of people break out in a sweat every year. Especially for the Sinhalese Buddhist population, Adam’s Peak or Sri Pada (the Buddha’s footprint) is a place of pilgrimage that every good Buddhist should have climbed once. The mountain is mostly climbed at night to escape the heat and to enjoy the sunrise. A full 5,200 steps must be climbed to reach the summit. The 1.8-meter footprint is located in a monastery at the top of the mountain. Ta really interesting fact about the footprint is, that several religions assign it to their religions. The Hindus claim that it is the footprint of the god Shiva, Muslims see in it the footprint of Adam and Christians see it as the footprint of the apostle Thomas. In total there are 2 possible trails up to Adam’s Peak. One starts from Ratnapura and is much longer – the other starts in Nallathanniya and is used by most people.

Über den Wolken

General information about the Adam’s Peak climb

Adam’s Peak is definitely one of the more challenging hikes in Sri Lanka. The climb takes +/- 3 hours, depending on your walking pace. We went up relatively slow with a few breaks. The trail first passes a few stalls and smaller temples at the base of the mountain until the stair climbing begins – 5200 steps in total (hello sore muscles). Next to the stairs there is a railing to hold on to. We recommend you start walking between 2:00 and 2:30. The path is completely lit and you definitely won’t be alone. There will be people coming towards you and some walking up with you. Along the way there are various stands where you can enjoy a warm tea or buy water or snacks. If you expect an idyllic sunrise at the top, you are wrong, because the pilgrimage site is visited by several thousand people every day. At the top there is a ceremony and you watch the sunrise crowded together. The whole area above is fenced. But then again, the sunrise compensates for everything, because the feeling of being above the clouds with the monks chanting in the background creates a very special atmosphere. AT least that’s what people told us. As you can see, we didn’t have the best view. The atmosphere with still really cool though and compensated us for sore legs.

Eingeschränkte Sicht vom Adam's Peak

Important info

Depending on your walking speed, you might still have a bit of time at the top until the sun rises, it is advisable to have warm clothes with you, such as a softshell jacket, so that it does not get too cold when you are not moving. Some lodgings will give you a thermos and a rain poncho, it’s definately worth it to carry up the extra weight, we where freezing and so happy about some warm tea. When descending, make sure to go back down the same side, otherwise you will take the longer way to Rathnapura and have to go back to Dalhousie from there.

Sonnenaufgang am Adam's Peak
Sunrise at Adam’s Peak

Starting point of the Adam’s Peak hike

The hike starts in Nallathanniya (Dalhousie) at the foot of Adam’s Peak. Most inns are within walking distance of the starting point. If this is not the case, the accommodations offer free shuttle services to the entrance. You can also find the start of the hike on the map below.

What do I need for the hike?

  • Water (1.5 l per person should be enough)
  • A few bananas
  • maybe some breakfast
  • warm clothes (softshell jacket and hiking pants for example)
  • camera
  • sunscreen for the way down

The best time to climb Adam’s Peak

The pilgrimage season to Adam’s Peak starts with the first full moon in December and ends with the last full moon in April. During this time, the weather is most likely to be good for the climb. However, the crowds on the mountain are naturally greatest during this time. Nevertheless, I recommend you to make the ascent in the season.

How to get there

If you are traveling by public transport, you can easily arrive by train and then change to a tuk-tuk, bus or cab to cover the rest of the distance. The train stop where you have to get off is Hatton. Depending on which direction you are coming from, you can reach Adam’s Peak from Kandy, Ella and Nuwara Elyia. Besides the train connections mentioned below, there are also buses from various cities to Hatton.

Tip: Travel this the route during daylight, because for us it is one of the most beautiful in Sri Lanka. Especially the journey with your own vehicle is worthwhile, because you can make stops at beautiful places along the way. Because we liked the route so much, we wrote a separate article about the drive from Nuwara Eliya to Adam’s Peak.

Kandy to Hatton: 3,5 h – 4,5 h

Nanuoya (Nuwara Eliya) to Hatton: 1 h – 2 h

Ella to Hatton: ca. 4,5 h

Accommodation Adam’s Peak

We had a great accommodation in Nallathanniya. The small family hotel “Blue Sky” is located a few minutes walk from the start of the hike. The overnight stay costs 3500 LKR for 2 people. The owner with his sympathetic and benevolent manner makes sure that his guests are well cared for. Here hospitality is still above sales. The price for the accommodation includes a breakfast, as well as a some food package for the ascent. He also provides you with the appropriate equipment. There is a rain poncho, flashlights and a thermos flask with tea. For breakfast you can choose what you want to have. Dinner is relatively cheap at 450 LKR (just under 2 €) and plentiful with some curries and rice. Vegetables are grown in their own garden. You can have a romantic dinner in the small pavilion in the middle of the garden.

The costs of climbing Adam’s Peak

Surprisingly climbing Adam’s Peak is free, even for foreigners.

Adam’s Peak or Little Adam’s Peak?

Personally, I find it difficult to compare these two hikes. The climb to Adam’s Peak takes 3 hours and is relatively strenuous, whereas you can reach Little Adam’s Peak in under an hour. In addition, the starting point of Adam’s Peak is in Nallathanniya, which is not necessarily on most people’s route. Little Adam’s Peak is in Ella, which is on everyones travel itinerary. There is a monastery on Adam’s Peak and the climb is made with a great number of pilgrims, some of whom struggle to get to the top. Both climbs are special in their own way, but not really comparable for us – so I wouldn’t say do either or.

Vacation in Sri Lanka

If you are generally interested in a vacation in Sri Lanka, we have compiled all the essentials for a trip to Sri Lanka here.

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We are Julian & Naomi and we love to travel the world and immerse ourselves in other cultures. We have an adventurous, spartan, sustainable and reflective travel style. In our opinion, the greatest adventures are experienced when you do things on your own and try to live like a local. The taste of a country is best captured on the road
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