Adam’s Peak is a pilgrimage mountain located in central Sri Lanka (known locally as Sri Pada), with a peak of 2,243-meters high. This mountain is renowned for the “sacred footprint”, though who the footprint belongs to will differ depending on your religion.
The Buddhists believe the footprint is the Buddha’s left foot, the Hindus claim it belongs to Lord Shiva whereas the Muslims and Christians consider it to be Adam’s first step on Earth, after he was exiled from the Garden of Eden.
Getting to Dalhousie (Nearest Town)
Hatton is a major town which is accessible by bus and train from Colombo or Kandy. From Hatton, you can either take bus, car or tuk-tuk and it’s about 90-minutes to 2-hours ride to Dalhousie.
We arrived Hatton in late afternoon and was informed there was no more direct bus to Dalhousie. Alternatively, we took a bus to Maskeliya (LKR50/USD0.30) and then change to another bus to Dalhousie (LKR50/USD0.30). Total journey took us about 2-hours.
Colombo to Hatton by Train: Almost 5-hours and costs LKR400 (USD2.20)
Hatton to Maskeliya by Bus: 1-hour and costs LKR50 (USD0.30)
Maskeliya to Dalhousie by Bus: 1-hours and costs LKR50 (USD0.30)
Hatton to Dalhousie by tuktuk: 90-minutes and costs LKR1000-1500 (USD6-8)
Where to Stay
You probably came across during your research that staying in Hatton would be a better choice as there is nothing to do in Dalhousie, etc. If you choose to stay in Hatton, do bear in mind that you will have to wake up by midnight, take a 90-minutes tuktuk ride which going to cost you a lot more than day time, to start your hike.
We stayed at Paradise Entrance which is the last guesthouse you will pass by before the start of trail to Adam’s Peak. The owners has grocery store which sells all the necessities you need for the hike, and there’s a restaurant just beside! The best part is, the imaginary “bus stop” is just right in front of this guesthouse! This place is just perfect.
When to go
The best time to climb is between December and April when the weather is at its best, but do avoid days nearing the full moon and the week of the Sinhalese New Year (April 13/14) to avoid long queues to the peak.
What to Expect
We started our ascent at around 1:30am in order to catch the sunrise at the peak. The entire hike took us about 5-hours (3-hours ascent, 2-hours descent), consisting of steep, narrow and rocky paths, and possibly a total of 5,500 steps in total!
The path starts out rather flat and becomes increasingly steeper as you go on. Once you saw the signage directing you to the start of Sri Pada, you will pass through a temple. There will be monks asking you for donations but don’t feel obligated. Do note that there is no entrance fee to climb Adam Peak, thus the donation is purely up to you.
Most part the trail is well marked passing through a few Buddha statues, as you follow along one path. If you are planning to climb on low season like us, be sure to prepare headlights/torch lights as the path is going to be dark. The last 20-minutes of the trail is the steepest part of the climb, but just hang on there! Unfortunately, off peak also means that the temple on the top will not be open, however the incredible sunrise views more than make up for it.
Reaching the summit of Adam’s Peak can be a challenging hike (especially if you’re not a stairs lover!), however it is more than worth it for the views! We were lucky to be the first few hikers to reach the top, thus we got a good place to wait for sunrise (there really isn’t much space on top!). Prepare some clothes to layer yourselves as it’s going to get windy. It would be nice if you had prepared hot coffee/tea in thermos to keep yourself warm and comfortable.
Avoid full moon and even weekends as it will be extremely crowded with people choosing to make their pilgrimage.
Bring layers. You will be hot and sweaty during the hike but as soon as you reach the peak waiting for sunrise, the cool air will chill you to the bone. Trek in a t-shirt, and bring a dry sweatshirt for the summit.
Proper walking shoes is good enough. I did it with my Chaco sandals.
Hydrate yourself. Even if you are not hiking under the sun, doesn’t means you no need to drink up. We use hydroflasks, one is for normal water and the other with hot water for the summit.
Bring your own snacks. Get something from the town as the food will get more expensive as you climb.
Bring Camera! Do I need to explain why?
Start your trek around 1-2am to catch the sunrise – you would want to reward yourself the very best chance to see it after the tough climb!