Climbing Adams Peak in Sri Lanka

Night time photo taken of Adams peak.

Climbing Adams Peak to watch the sunrise.

Adams peak, also known as Sri Pada is Sri Lanka’s fourth highest peak but easily its most famous. Located in the centre of the country and surrounded by endless acres of tea plantations sits the 2,243m (7,359 ft) tall mountain with an incredible deep religious significance. What makes Adams peak so famous is the sacred foot print found in a rock formation at the summit. The reason this is such a significant religious site is because it hold deep meaning in four religious beliefsBuddhists believe that this is the footprint left behind from The Buddha when he visited Sri Lanka. In Hindu tradition it is that this was the footprint of the God Shiva. Then both Christian and Islamic traditions it is said to be the place where Adam first step foot on earth after being banished from the Garden of Eden.

Photo taken of Adams peak in the morning after we'd finished climbing

My experience

I was happy to leave Kandy and looking forward to climbing Adams peak. Read here why I didn’t like enjoy Kandy. Me and two friends that I’d originally met in Colombo took the afternoon train to Hatton and made it just in time to catch the local bus to Dalhousie. As there isn’t a whole lot to do in Dalhousie the plan was to just leave our bags at a restaurant climb Adams Peak and then leave the following morning. We found a restaurant that was more than happy to look after our bag whilst we climbed but our friend didn’t seem to like the idea and went to find us a hotel. He eventually found us a room in a brand new guest house for 1000 rupees a night for the 3 of us. It was actually a better idea as it meant we got a good 4 hours sleep in the morning and a place to shower. As we’s left around 1:00am the first hour went by pretty quick. This was due to two reasons; the first being that most people leave around 11:00pm so were a few hours ahead of us and second was that the first half of the climb is on a relatively shallow incline. As we joked and fooled around I think we’d all began to get a bit too confident in our mountain climbing abilities. Quite quickly Adams peak became a real physical and mental challenge. Not only does the hill became very steep but the human traffic jams made it hard to get into a comfortable rhythm. The higher you get the more narrow the paths become and the more people will just stop in the middle of the stairs to catch their breath. This made the climb a lot more physically demanding having to stop and step back down became really draining. I found that when we had the chance it was best to accelerate past large groups of people in order to get a clear run.

A view form the top of adams peak.

Eventually though we’d caught up with the bulk of the pack. A slow march began with the occasional person pushing past. As we approached the last section where the stairs have hand rails and become comically steep we stopped for a short rest. Although I was sweating the cold air brought on a much welcomed chill. The last section is easily the most demanding but it was probably because we’d psyched our self up and had decided race. Once you reach the top you have to take your shoes and socks off. It’s then when you realised how cold you’re going to get. The floor was like ice and everywhere you looked were people wrapped in blankets. After spending sometime exploring we’d all became freezing and went to find a place to rest. There are a few large concrete rooms for sleeping in that protect you from the wind. When we were there all these rooms were as good as full and the etiquette seemed to be if you can see a space you can have it. We had a couple of hours sleep in the human Tetras room with the only real disturbance being a policeman telling us to watch out for our belongings. Thankfully we were woken by everyone heading outside to go and view the sun rise. There wasn’t much space on the ‘sunrise viewing platform’ and the way things have been built on there is with very little consideration to the surrounding visa.

An obstructed view form the top of adams peak.

All around the peak are what look like small telegraph poles with inconsiderately places wires running from one to another. Then directly in font of you is an extremely ugly concrete shop.We stayed there to watch the sunrise but quickly made the decision to move further back down the stairs to take in the view. This was a great plan. Only us and few more had made this same plan. From here the views were spectacular and had no obstructions.

Sunrise at adams peak.


This photo of adams peak was taken on the way down. There was a lot less people as the majority stayed at the top

The way down was extremely quick. I think the sense of having achieved something mixed with the force of gravity made it a loss less physically demanding. That and the majority of the people who climbed the peak the night before are there for religious reason and will be making the most of their time on the peak.


When to Climb Adams Peak?

Thousands of people every year head to Dalhousie to make the pilgrimage up the Peak. the main pilgrimage season runs from the first Poya of December/January up to vesca week in May. Traditionally the pilgrimage is made during the night as this allows you to catch the stunning sunrise and the enigmatic shadow the peak casts. During the pilgrimage months Adams peak is lit the entire way up and has many small tea shops for you to rest at. The hill is apparently possible to climb out of pilgrimage season but will require a torch at night and all the tea shops will be shut.

How long does it take to Climb Adams Peak?

Climbing Adams peak is pretty exhausting. It took us around 2 – 3 hours with only a few short stops. You have to remember that you are climbing up 2000 meters +. The clime has steps all the way up and the last quarter that’s nearing on vertical there is a hand rail… That will electrocute you. I wasn’t really sure if this was to stop people holding on to both side or just a mistake but if you touch both rails you’ll get a nasty shock. Don’t be put off by the size of it though we saw many elderly people making their way slowly up the hill.

What to take with you?

As I mentioned before there are a lot of tea shops that sell food and drink all the way up the hill. However the price does go up the higher you get so I’d recommend taking your own water and a few small snacks. We left around 1:00am for the climb and by the time we’d reached the summit it was absolutely freezing. I would strongly recommend taking some warm cloths to change into and a blanket.


Panoramic photo taken on the summit of Adams peak at sunrise

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