Based in the beautiful region of the central highlands of Sri Lanka, this fascinating mountain has already seen quite a lot of visitors in its history. Adam’s peak is a beloved and famous place to visit. Every day and night, traditional pilgrims and adventurous tourists try to venture the mighty Adam’s peak, of which they want to get to the top.
Known by several names, this magnificent peak will leave a mark in your memory. One of its names is 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 place to visit for any traveler 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 Hatton from Kandy or from the capital city of Sri Lanka 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 have 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.
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 located 7 km away from Dalhousie.
How to climb Adam’s Peak
Best advise is to climb the mountain at your own tempo. Take all the time you need. If you want to avoid the crowdy pilgrim season in between December and May, visit Adam’s peak from June to November for a relaxed trekking experience.
Most people leave at 12 p.m. – 2 a.m. from their hotel or guesthouse in Dalhousie. Having to walk about 7 km before ascending the peak, keep in mind that you prepare for climbing at least 6000 dissimilar stairs. The stairs will take you to the top of Adam’s peak. On the way to the peak, there are many tea and food stalls, which are only open in the pilgrim season from December until May. So make sure you take enough water and snacks with you to keep you hydrated and energized. On the way to the top of Adam’s peak, there are also bathrooms available for necessary stops. It will take around 3-4 hours to reach the peak of the mountain.
Starting at the correct time at night, you will be able to see the sun coming up over what seems to be half of Sri Lanka. The view up there is literally breathtaking. Make sure to start descending the mountain on time because once the temperature starts rising during the day, the sun can be quite strong on your way back. Like I notified before, it’s important to bring enough drinking water, also for on the way back down.
What to pack for climbing Sri Pada
Preparing in the best way for a hike like climbing Adam’s peak, is essential. I wrote down a list of suggested items to take with you on your way to the top of the mountain because you will need them. However, don’t take too much stuff with you, because it will slow you down. Better to leave everything that you don’t need on your hike at your guesthouse or hotel in Dalhousie.
- Flashlight or headlamp to find your way in the darkness and to see the stairs if you start the hike at 12 pm – 2 am in the night.
- Plenty of drinking water; at least 2 large bottles.
- A Raincoat. Just in case.
- Some warm clothes or a blanket. It can be quite cold at the top of the mountain at night.
- A small, easy backpack. Don’t take your large backpack with you to the top of Adam’s peak.
- Enough protein-rich snacks and healthy fruits! The hike will make you hungry.
- Sunscreen and sunglasses for the walk down the mountain. The sunlight can be 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. Because of the large offer of accommodation options, you usually don’t need to book in advance before climbing Adam’s peak.
But if you do want to book your accommodation in advance. Here’s a good list for you with suggested hotels and guesthouses in Dalhousie:
- 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
A Holy Mountain
From December until May, It’s the pilgrim season for Adam’s peak. Being a sacred place for Buddhists, Hindu’s, Christians and Muslims, the peak of the mountain is a known place for pilgrimage. A big crowd of pilgrims hikes to the top of the mountain in this season, making it difficult to climb the peak. In Buddhist tradition, the mountain holds a footprint of the Buddha and Hindus consider the same footprint to belong to Lord Shiva. However, Muslims/Christians believe it’s Adam’s first step after being exiled from the Garden of Eden. Every different religion has a different story to it.
The history of Adam’s peak mountain
First mentioned as Samanthakuta, Sri Pada or Adam’s peak is said to be visited by Buddha himself. Another ancient story explains that an old Sri Lankan king with the name of Valagamba took refuge in the forest of Adam’s peak against enemy invaders from India. Later he returned to Anuradhapura, the ancient capital city of Sri Lanka. Many other stories of medieval Sri Lankan kings explain their visits to this mountain. Even the famous Chinese pilgrim and Buddhist traveler Fa Hien mentioned Sri Pada in his letters although it is not made clear whether he actually visited it when he stayed in Sri Lanka around 411–12 CE.
The Italian merchant Marco Polo wrote down in his notes that Adam’s peak was an important place of pilgrimage. He visited Sri Lanka on his travels around 1298 CE. Although, he never mentioned a footprint of Buddha, Lord Shiva or other holy personifications. A traveler from Arabia with the name of Ibn Battuta climbed to the top of Adam’s peak, which he called Sarandīb in 1344 CE. In his description, he explained that a stone stairway and iron poles with chains helped the religious pilgrims to reach the peak. The last story in this section explains that John Davy, the brother of the famous chemist Sir Humphry Davy visited the peak in 1817. He recorded observing an oversized footprint carved in stone and decorated with brass and studded with gems.
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 on what seems to be half of Sri Lanka. It’s a highly recommended hike for anyone that’s up for a good 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 6 months.
For the best experience: Try to go during the week and avoid the climb in the busy pilgrim season.