The peak is known by several names, like Sri Pada, which means ‘sacred footprint (of buddha)’, or poetically Samanalakande, which is translated as ‘butterfly mountain; where butterflies go to die’. It’s a beautiful & most recommended place to go for any visitor in Sri Lanka.
Elevation: 2,243 m
Time needed to explore: 5-8 hours
Best hour to start the climb: midnight – 2 a.m.
How hard is the Climb: Moderate
Location: Next to Dalhousie (Sri Lanka)
How to get to Nallathanniya – Dalhousie
The best way to get to Adam’s peak in Sri Lanka is to take a train or bus to the town of Hatton from Kandy or the capital city Colombo. Hatton is located in the South of the central highlands in Sri Lanka. It’s a peaceful little village with some good local restaurants for a quick rice and curry on the way. In Hatton, you will need to take a bus or tuk-tuk to Dalhousie (Nallathanniya). The ride from Hatton to Dalhousie will take you 1-2 hours, depending on which transport you choose for. Don’t forget to take a good look at the breathtaking scenery outside of the window on your way to Dalhousie or Hatton.
Do I have to book a tour in advance?
No, you don’t need to book a tour in advance for Adam’s peak. You only need to find your way to Dalhousie (Nallathanniya), from that point just ask your local guesthouse or hotel for more information about the climb. Adam’s peak is 7km next to Dalhousie.
How to climb Adam’s Peak
I advise you to climb the mountain on your own tempo. Take all the time you need. Also, try to avoid the big crowdy pilgrim season (December to May) for the most relaxed trekking experience.
Most people leave at 12 p.m. – 2 a.m. from their hotel or guesthouse in Dalhousie. From your starting point, you will have to walk about 7km before ascending Adam’s peak. After that, 6000 dissimilar stairs will take you to the top of Adam’s peak. On the way to the peak, there are many tea and food stalls, but these are only open in the pilgrim season from December until May. There are also bathrooms available on the way to the top of Adam’s peak. You will need about 3-4 hours to reach the peak of the mountain.
If you start at the correct timing, you will be able to behold a stunning sunrise that shines over what seems to be half of Sri Lanka. The view up there is literally breathtaking. Make sure to start descending the mountain in time, though. Once the temperature starts rising, the sun can be quite strong on your way back. Make sure to bring enough drinking water.
What to pack for climbing Sri Pada
Important! I added this list of suggested items to take with you for climbing Adam’s peak because you will really need these items on your way to the top and back.
Tip: Don’t take too much stuff with you, leave everything that you don’t need back at your guesthouse or hotel in Dalhousie.
- Flashlight or headlamp to find your way in the darkness and to see the stairs. (start at 12pm – 2 am)
- Drinking water. Take at least 2 large bottles with you.
- Raincoat. Just in case.
- Some warm clothes or a blanket for the top. It can be quite cold up there at night.
- Small, easy backpack. Don’t take a large backpack with you to the top.
- Protein snacks, healthy fruits! The hike will make you hungry.
- Sunscreen and sunglasses for the walk down the mountain. The sun can be quite strong on the way back.
Where to stay in Nallathanniya – Dalhousie
There are many cheap options for accommodation in Dalhousie village. Hotels, guesthouses are widespread in the town. You don’t need to book in advance before climbing Adam’s peak.
But, of course, for if you would prefer to book your accommodation in advance, I have made a list for you with suggested places to stay:
- Slightly Chilled – A great base for hiking Adam’s peak. Friendly staff that provides a good service. Tip: They serve really good tea.
Phone number: +94 52 2 055502
- White House – Featuring free WiFi and two restaurants, White House Guesthouse offers pet-friendly accommodation in Nallathanniya.
Phone number: +94 77 791 2009
- Green House – A friendly family guesthouse across the bridge at the start of the walking path, the Green House lives up to its name with a potplant-filled garden and a breezy gazebo restaurant.
Phone number:+94 60 222 3956
- River View Wathsala Inn – A good stay for that short 1 night before climbing Adam’s peak. It’s a nice location with a friendly staff.
Phone number: +94 52 2 055505
From December till May, It’s pilgrim season for Adam’s peak. Buddhists, Hindu’s, Christians and Muslims know the peak of the mountain as a sacred place for pilgrimage. For example, it is in Buddhist tradition that the mountain holds the footprint of the Buddha. Yet, Hindus consider the same footprint to belong to Lord Shiva. Muslims/Christians believe it’s Adam’s first step after being exiled from the Garden of Eden. Climbing Adam’s peak in the pilgrim season can be a very crowded activity. The way to the top can be very crowded with pilgrims joining in line to reach the peak before sunrise.
History of the Mountain
Sri Pada is first mentioned (as `Samanthakuta’) in the Deepawamsa, the earliest Pali chronicle, (4th century), and also in the 5th century chronicle Mahawamsa, where it is stated that the Buddha visited the mountain peak. The chronicle Rajavaliya states that the King Valagamba (1st century BCE) had taken refuge in the forests of Adam’s Peak against invaders from India, and later returned to Anuradhapura. The Mahawamsa again mentions the visit of King Vijayabahu I (1058–1114) to the mountain. The famous Chinese pilgrim and Buddhist traveler Fa Hien stayed in Sri Lanka in 411–12 CE and mentions Sri Pada although it is not made clear whether he actually visited it.
The Italian merchant Marco Polo in his Travels of 1298 CE noted that Adam’s Peak was an important place of pilgrimage but did not mention a footprint in the rock. The Arab traveler Ibn Battuta climbed to the summit of the mountain which he called Sarandīb in 1344 CE. In his description, he mentions a stairway and iron stanchions with chains to help the pilgrims. John Davy brother of the noted chemist Sir Humphry Davy visited the peak in 1817. He recorded observing an oversized foot print carved in stone and ornamented with a single margin of brass and studded with gems. (source: Wikipedia)
Climbing Adam’s peak can be quite a challenge. Some people might consider it to be an easy hike, some might think different. The 2-4 hour climb will offer you a stunning view of what seems to be half of Sri Lanka. It’s a highly recommended hike for anyone that’s up for a nice adventure. The sunrise on the peak will be one that you won’t easily forget. I absolutely loved the hike.
I climbed the mountain last year just before Christmas when I was living in Sri Lanka for some time.
For the best experience: Try to go during the week. Try to avoid to do the climb in the busy pilgrim season.