Adam’s Peak: everything you need to know about this cool hike in Sri Lanka

Last Updated on by Charlotte van de Sande

In the middle of Sri Lanka stands a holy mountain: Adam’s Peak. On this mountain all religions seem to come together: according to Christians and Muslims this is the place where Adam took his first step on earth, the Buddhists believe Buddha’s first footstep was set here and for the Hindus, it was Shiva who stepped via this peak on earth. All in all a very holy place. In this travel guide, I will tell you everything you need to know about climbing Adam’s Peak and of course how you get here!

Ascending Adam's Peak


Hiking to Adam’s Peak in the middle of the night

It is two o’clock in the morning and still a bit sleepy we climb the first of 5,500 steps. Yes, you read it correctly. All the way up to the top of Adam’s Peak are long staircases. Together with Canadians Dez and Emmy, we are doing this physical challenge. At first sight, it seems as we are the only ones hiking this trail, but after half an hour of walking, we also meet some other tourists. It’s a bit weird, walking with our torches in the middle of the night while all the temples are abandoned, shops closed and lights are out.

The first hour is easy peasy, then it gets more challenging.

The start of the hike is easy. We walk on flat parts and us ascent gradually on the stairs. But the further we go, the steeper the stairs become. Occasionally, we take a break to catch our breath. Along the way, we see poles that count down to the top. Pole 21 was the start and from pole 9 we only see steep stairs going up.

The group we are walking with has grown in the meantime. We walk among 20 people of all different nationalities. It looks like a pilgrimage, but it really isn’t, the real pilgrimages only start in a week, at the first full moon of December.

One hour before sunrise we reach Adam’s Peak

Eventually, the climb goes faster than we thought. More than an hour before sunrise we arrive at the top. The wind is blowing hard and it is very cold. I quickly change my sweaty shirt and put on a dry T-shirt with long sleeves. Even after putting more layers on, I am still shivering of the cold. My solution: sit close to Ries and fall asleep in his lap.

Adam's Peak cloudy sunrise

Sunrise on Adam’s Peak

Slowly, it starts to get lighter. The sky changes from black to deep blue, dark purple, orange and then … nothing… Just before sunrise, we are suddenly caught in a thick fog bank. There is nothing to see anymore, no sun, no beautiful valley, nothing at all. I cannot believe this is happening right now. We skipped one night for this! One night of precious sleep! What a disappointment!

I almost want to get up to start the descent, but then suddenly we see an orange dot. This becomes brighter and fiercer, it seems as if the sun is trying to shine right through the fog bank. And that works! For a little while, we see the sun and the green valley below us. It is beautiful to see! Around us, you hear people calling “wow” and “amazing”!

The tough descent from Adam’s Peak

When the sun shines brightly high in the sky, we begin to descend. It is still cold, but that will soon change. The lower we get, the hotter it is. The 5500 steps that we climbed up are perhaps even heavier to go down. Everyone has trembling leg muscles and cramped calves. I am happy with the walking stick I bought in Nepal, which takes a lot of pressure off my knees.

Two and a half hours later we are sweaty at the bottom of the mountain where we are greeted by our driver. Tired we get in the car after a quick breakfast and all fall asleep! Adam’s Peak was a fun hike with magnificent views, definitely worth it!

Adam's Peak lake


Travel guide: Is climbing Adam’s Peak difficult?

We found the climb to Adam’s Peak not very difficult. If you are in normal shape, this mountain is definitly doable. Of course, there are many stairs and you climb more than 1000 meters, but the stairs are reasonably well maintained. There are also poles that indicate which part of the hike you are on. These divide the hike into 21 equal parts, so you can estimate how far you are. Finally, there is a tea shop every few hundred meters where you can catch your breath.

Note: This hike can be heavy for people with bad knees. We saw many people (young and old) struggling on their way down.

Tip: don’t leave too early! Our driver indicated that it would certainly be four hours to the top. We took our time for the hike and were still at the top within three hours. Therefore, we had to wait another hour before sunrise. Do not make this mistake and get an extra hour of sleep!

Adam's Peak view at cloudy sunrise

Do you need a guide while climbing Adam’s Peak?

No, the road is well signposted and you will definitely not get lost. In addition, the climb is also not at all technical (they are just stairs, although a lot of stairs). A guide is therefore not required during the ascent to Adam’s Peak.

Don’t underestimate the cold!

What can make the climb of Adam’s Peak tough is the time you climb. With just a few hours of sleep or no sleep at all combined with the cold on the mountain, it can be physically challenging. We had definitly underestimated the cold when you reach the top. Since we had to wait a bit before sunrise, we all were shivering with cold at the top. At the starting point of the trail it was still 23 degrees, but 1000 meters higher the wind was blowing strong and it was no warmer than 5 degrees. Absolutely bring gloves, a hat and a thick jacket if you can!


How to prepare yourself for Adam’s Peak?

As described above, it is really very important that you bring warm clothing for the top. During the descent, the sun shines again and light clothing is handy. Hereby, a packing list for what to bring with you for a night and day hike to Adam’s Peak.

Other:

 

Clothing Annapurna Circuit


Does Adam’s Peak cost money?

No, climbing Adam’s Peak is completely free! Along the way, you will come across many temples and so-called monks who want to tie a “free” bracelet on your arm (a piece of string). Unfortunately, after their present to you, you receive a donation form and you will be pushed to give money. Note: these are generally not real monks and you are never required to make a donation. If you do not want this, remove the “bracelet” and say thank you in a friendly way.


Is your next destination Kandy? Read more about this place in our travel guide!


Where do you sleep before climbing Adam’s Peak?

There are two ways to climb Adam’s Peak:

1. By Skipping a night:
By not sleeping and driving at night with a (shared) taxi from Nuwara Eliya to Dalhousie. Dalhousie is the village at the foot of Adam’s Peak, where you start your hike.

2. Sleeping in Dalhousie:
By travelling to Dalhousie the day before and going to bed on time in one of the guesthouses in this village. This way you have a few hours of sleep before you start the challenging Adam’s Peak. Here are a few nice hotels in Dalhousie:

Daffodils Inn Daffodils Inn

This simple guesthouse offers clean rooms close to the start of the trail! You’ll stay here from €27 including breakfast (two people).

Book now!

Hugging Clouds hugging clouds

In this cosy hotel, delicious coffee is served and you’ll sleep in trendy rooms with Wi-Fi! You stay here from € 27 (two people).

Book now!

Tea Breeze Motel €€Tea breeze motel

Tea Breeze Motel is a quiet hotel with a great after-hike breakfast! You’ll stay here from € 32 including breakfast (two people).

Book now!


Click here for our free hotel guide for Sri Lanka!


How do you reach Adam’s Peak?

We were convinced that it was very difficult to reach Adam’s Peak. Fortunately, this is not the case. The ascent to Adam’s Peak starts from the village of Dalhousie. Here are the different ways to travel to Adam’s Peak!

Kandy to Adam’s Peak (Dalhousie)

By train: 5 hours, € 2- € 5, via Hatton
First, you take the train from Kandy to Hatton. Once there it is about an hour’s drive to Dalhousie. There is a direct bus every half hour that costs around € 0.40. Of course, you can also choose to take a tuk-tuk to Dalhousie. That is slightly more expensive. This route is not possible at night, so you must be in Dalhousie in advance.

By taxi: 3 hours, € 50- € 70
Of course, you can also take a (shared) taxi from Kandy. This costs between 40 and 60 euros, depending on the time you travel. You can consider doing this in the middle of the night and immediately start your hike after the ride.

View from Little Adam's peak Ries Ella

From Nuwara Eliya to Adam’s Peak (Dalhousie)

By train: 4 hours, € 2- € 5, via Nanuoya and Hatton
To travel by train from Nuwara Eliya to Adams Peak, first, take a taxi/tuk-tuk to Nanuoya train station. From there you take the train that will take you to Hatton in an hour and a half. Here you take the bus or tuk-tuk to Dalhousie again. There is a direct bus every half hour that costs around € 0.40. This route is not possible at night, so you must arrive in Dalhousie in advance.

By taxi: 2-3 hours, € 40- € 60
This was how we travelled to Adam’s Peak. Together with another couple, we took a taxi that dropped us off in the middle of the night in Dalhousie. After the hike, the driver also brought us back. We paid 60 euros for this (30 per couple), but if you travel during the day, the costs are a lot lower.


Want to see tea plantations in Sri Lanka? Then go to Nuwara Eliya!


From Ella to Adam’s Peak (Dalhousie)

By train: 6 hours, € 3 – € 7, via Hatton
To travel by train from Ella to Adam’s Peak, you first travel to Hatton. This takes around four hours. In Hatton, you then take the bus or tuk-tuk to Dalhousie. There is a direct bus every half hour that costs around € 0.40. This route is not possible at night, so you must arrive in Dalhousie in advance.

By taxi: 4 hours, € 50 to € 70
You can also travel by shared taxi from Ella to Adam’s Peak. This is quite a long drive so we advise against doing this at night before your hike. You better sleep a night in Dalhousie and start rested on the hike.


Read more about Ella and the beautiful train ride from Ella to Kandy here.


When is it best to climb Adam’s Peak (and when is it absolutely not?)

What time do you climb Adam’s Peak?

You can climb Adam’s Peak both at night (so that you are at the top during sunrise) or during the day. During the day it is of course much warmer, but keep in mind that during the day from around 10 am the top is often covered in fog banks.

That said, fog can also come during sunrise, as we had.

Temple at Adam's Peak

In which month do you climb Adam’s Peak?

As mentioned earlier, Adam’s Peak is a religious mountain peak. From the first full moon in December to the first full moon in April, pilgrims come to Adam’s Peak. During the pilgrim season, it is very busy on the mountain, especially during the full moon and on the weekends. We’ve heard stories about hours of traffic jams to walking up. The weather is best during the pilgrim season and the stairs are well lit.

Outside the pilgrim season, it is much quieter here. The temple at the top of the mountain is closed and the lights on the way are off (hence your headlamp). However, there are still a few shops open along the way where you can rest and buy hot tea.


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