Adam’s Peak Hike – My complete guide to climbing Sri Pada

My complete guide to the adams peak hike

Located in the central highlands of Sri Lanka, Adams Peak or Sri Pada is shrouded in legend and lore, drawing thousands of pilgrims and tourists each year.

Adam’s Peak stands at 2,243 meters (7,359 feet) and the most popular route, the Hatton route, comprises of over 5,500 steps! Don’t be alarmed though as you’ll be battling the hoards of super-fit Sri Lankan grandmas to reach the summit in time for sunrise and to see the legendary foot of buddha.

I climbed Adams Peak on a full moon in 2019 and it was an unforgettable experience – jostling with hundreds (probably thousands) of others as we made our way to the top, and reaching the buddha just in time for sunrise.

In this post, I will share my complete guide to climbing Adam’s Peak, including everything you need to know about the hike, the best time to go, what to pack, where to stay, and more.

What Is The Significance Of Adam’s Peak (Sri Pada)?

Adam’s Peak is a sacred mountain revered by multiple religions, including Buddhists, Hindus, Christians, and Muslims.

The mountain is believed to be the site where Adam first set foot on earth after being banished from the Garden of Eden. Buddhists believe that the footprint at the peak is that of the Buddha, while Hindus believe it belongs to Lord Shiva. Christians and Muslims believe that the footprint belongs to Adam or St. Thomas, respectively. Regardless of one’s religious beliefs, the hike up Adam’s Peak is a spiritual and cultural experience that is not to be missed.

Tristan Balme wide angle photo of adams peak sri pada

Where is Adams Peak, And How Do You Get There?

It’s a bit of a mission to get to Adams Peak.

Firstly, the town at the base of the mountain is called Dalhousie. The trail literally starts there, so you need to get to Dalhousie.

There’s no train to Dalhousie, but there is to Hatton which is 30km away and you can take a bus or taxi from there.

You can also hire a driver from a nearby town like Ella or Kandy, who can stay on and take you to your next destination the following day. You’ll be knackered and can sleep in the car (which is what we did!)

OriginDistance (km)Drive Time (hours)Best Mode of Transport
Kandy1044Bus or Car
Nuwara Eliya602Car
Ella702.5Car
Mirissa2406-7Car
Colombo1405Bus or Car

Option 1: Kandy to Dalhousie

The starting point for climbing Adam’s Peak is the small town of Dalhousie, located at the base of the mountain. The town is accessible by bus or car from the nearby city of Kandy, which is a popular tourist destination. The journey from Kandy to Dalhousie by takes approximately four hours and offers stunning views of the Sri Lankan countryside.

Option 2: Nuwara Eliya to Dalhousie

Another option is to travel from the hill station of Nuwara Eliya to Dalhousie, which is approximately two hours away by car. Nuwara Eliya is known for its picturesque tea plantations and colonial-era architecture, making it a popular stop for tourists.

Option 3: Getting to Dalhousie by Train

Another option for getting to Dalhousie is by train. The closest train station to Dalhousie is Hatton, which is located approximately 30 kilometers away. From Hatton, you can take a local bus or a taxi to Dalhousie. The train journey from Colombo to Hatton takes approximately 4-5 hours, depending on the type of train and the number of stops.

OriginDistance (km)Train Time (hours)
Kandy722.5
Nuwara Eliya321
Ella191
Colombo1505

Note: Train travel in Sri Lanka is super unpredictable. Delays and cancellations are common. It is however BEAUTIFUL, so just plan some buffer time into your itinerary.

Getting From Dalhousie to the start of the track

Once you reach Dalhousie, you will need to make your way to your accommodation.Which can be anywhere from in the town center to a few km outside of town.

The trail start in the town centre, so you’ll be able to walk from your hotel. Though, if your hotel is far away, you can also grab a tuk tuk to take you in.

How long is the climb up Adam’s Peak?

The climb up Adam’s Peak is approximately 5.5 kilometers long and takes an average of 3-5 hours to complete. The hike is considered to be moderately difficult, with steep inclines and many steps along the way… Ok, it’s basically all steps.

The catch is the path is very narrow and it can be incredibly busy. The night before I went I talked with some people for whom took 12 hours!!

(that’s not because they’re slow, its because the crowds were worse than a Justin Beiber concert)

Tristan Balme the 5500 steps to adams peak

My Complete Guide To Climbing Adams Peak

In this section, I’ll take you through each part of the hike in order, including what I did, and what I’d recommend you do if you are going to tackle it.

(feel free to skip over it for the photos – cos that’s what i’d do)

First, when’s the best season for climbing Adam’s Peak?

The best time to climb Adam’s Peak is during the pilgrimage season, which runs from December to May. During this time, the weather is cooler and drier, and the mountain is illuminated with thousands of lights, creating a magical atmosphere.

The most popular time to climb Adam’s Peak is during the full moon. This is when thousands of pilgrims (and me!) make the journey up the mountain to pay their respects to the sacred footprint at the summit.

The atmosphere during the full moon is truly magical, with the mountain illuminated by thousands of lights and the sound of chanting filling the air. However, it is also the busiest time of year, so it is important to be prepared for crowds and long waits. If you plan on climbing during the full moon, it is recommended to book your accommodation and transportation in advance.

MonthWeatherCrowdsRanking
DecemberCool and dryHighBest
JanuaryCool and dryHighBest
FebruaryCool and dryHighBest
MarchCool and dryHighGood
AprilWarm and humidHighAverage
MayWarm and humidHighPoor
JuneHot and humidLowPoor
JulyHot and humidLowPoor
AugustHot and humidLowPoor
SeptemberHot and humidLowPoor
OctoberWarm and humidLowAverage
NovemberWarm and humidLowGood

Which route should you take?

There are four main routes to the summit of Adam’s Peak, each of which offers a unique experience. The most popular route is the Hatton route, which is also the longest and most challenging. The other routes are the Ratnapura, Kuruwita, and Palabaddala routes, which are less crowded but also less developed.

What I Did: I did the Hatton route, so I’ll be only talking about this route for the rest of the article. It is by far the most popular route and the most accessible to get transport to.

Tristan Balme Adams peak hiking map

What To Pack And Wear

When climbing Adam’s Peak, it is important to pack light but bring the essentials. This includes comfortable hiking shoes, warm clothing, a flashlight, snacks, and water. It is also important to dress modestly out of respect for the religious significance of the mountain.

I’d back a lightweight day pack with suitable clothing for cold mountain conditions, but also options for when the hot sun comes out.

Packing List:

  • Hiking shoes:
    Honestly, these days I lean much more to trail shoes than boots. They are much more comfortable and lightweight. I did this hike in a pair of Altra Lone Peaks and they were perfect. But, you’ll also be overtaken by Sri Lankan grandma’s in Hiking Jandals – so do what you want. These Solomons are also good options too.
  • Clothing:
    Dress in layers and bring warm and waterproof clothing, including a rain jacket, thermal base layers, fleece or down jacket, hat, gloves, and warm socks. A Merino base layer is a must!
    I wore an Icebreaker BodyFit base layer which was the perfect option to wear under another layer in the cold, or by itself when the sun comes out.
  • Sunglasses to protect your eyes
    Obviously, most of the hike is in the dark, but when the sun comes up it’s bright (you’re on top of a mountain after all), and its roasting. I’d get a good pair of polarized sunglasses such as these
  • A good lightweight camera
    When I climbed Adams Peak I took my super lightweight Olympus OMD EM5 MkII with M. Zukio 12mm – 40mm PRO lens. Great camera, but getting a bit old now. If I did it again I’d recommend something like the Fujifilm XT4 or similar. OR, check out my full guide to hiking cameras here.
  • Flashlight or headlamp,
    Go Black Diamond. Go USB rechargeable. They’ve served me so well and this one is a goodie
  • Snacks, such as energy bars or trail mix.
    5 hours is long enough to warrant a bit of food. Sure, there are a ton of stalls along the way, but they are kind of gross, and you need to step out of line (yes, the hike is basically walking in a massive que) to get food so it makes sense to pack some beforehand.
  • Water bottle
    I took one with a built-in life straw-type water filter like this one. This way I can drink the water from my hotel and not have to keep buying single-use bottles.
  • Toilet paper and hand sanitizer
    Fortunately, I didn’t need to use the facilities when I did the hike, but it’s a good idea to be prepared. Toilets are few and far between.

What time you should start the hike

To avoid the crowds and catch the sunrise, it is recommended to start the hike around 2-3 am. This will give you enough time to reach the summit before sunrise, which is a breathtaking sight to behold.

TIP: Talk to your hotel manager the night before. They’ll have the best idea of how busy it currently is, and therefore how much time you’ll need to reach the top for sunrise.

Your hotel briefing

Before starting hike, it is a good idea to attend a briefing at your hotel, which will provide you with important information about the climb and what to expect. The briefing may also include tips on how to deal with the crowds and how to stay safe.

Getting to the trailhead

To get to the trailhead, you can either walk or take a tuk-tuk. Walking is a good way to warm up before the climb, but it may take up to an hour to reach the trailhead. Taking a tuk-tuk is faster but may be more expensive depending on where your accommodation is.

We walked.

Tristan Balme walking through dalhousie to adams peak

The Path Up Adams Peak

The path up Adam’s Peak is well-marked and maintained, with many steps and rest areas along the way.

Its basically just concrete or stone steps the whole way.

As you climb higher, you’ll find the path narrow down, to the point where it’s only single lane up and down.

The human traffic jam to the Summit

One of the biggest challenges of climbing Adam’s Peak is dealing with the crowds, especially during peak season. The path to the summit can get very crowded, with many people jostling for space on the narrow steps. It is important to stay calm and patient and take breaks when needed.

Tristan Balme 230am start to do the adams peak hike

The Wait

Once you reach the summit, you may need to wait in line to see the sacred footprint and take photos. The wait can be long, especially during peak season, so it is important to be prepared with snacks and water.

Stalls and Toilets at the Peak

At the summit, there are several stalls selling food and drinks, as well as toilets for public use. However, it is recommended to bring your own snacks and water, as the prices at the stalls can be quite high.

The Summit and the shrine

The summit of Adam’s Peak is a sacred site, with a small shrine and the famous footprint. Visitors are required to remove their shoes before entering the shrine and to show respect to the religious significance of the site.

Tristan Balme the monastry at the top of adams peak
Tristan Balme sunrise photos at adams peak
My complete guide to the adams peak hike
Tristan Balme sri pada crowds at the summit
Tristan Balme crowsds at the top of adams peak

The way back down

The descent from the summit can be challenging, especially on the knees and ankles. It is important to take breaks and rest along the way, and to watch your step on the steep inclines.

I found it amazing walking the same path in daylight and seeing the incredible views that were hidden only a few hours earlier under the cover of darkness.

Tristan Balme walk down adams peak 1

Adam’s Peak is Not a Hike For Everyone

While the climb up Adam’s Peak is a rewarding experience, it is not suitable for everyone. The hike is physically demanding and requires a certain level of fitness and stamina. It is also important to be aware of the risks associated with climbing a mountain, such as hypothermia, changing weather conditions, trips and falls and injury.

Be prepared to literally be stuck up there if it is busy. Your 4-5 hour hike could easily become a 12+ hour stand-in-one-place. So pack warm clothes, snacks, and comfy shoes.

Where to Stay in Delhouse

There are several hotels and guesthouses in Dalhousie that cater to hikers and pilgrims. It is recommended to book your accommodation in advance, especially during peak season.

Best Basic Option: White House Adam’s Peak

This hotel offers comfortable rooms and modern amenities, such as a restaurant and a garden. It is located just a few minutes’ walk from the trailhead and offers stunning views of the surrounding mountains.

Best Mid-Range Option: Grand Adam’s Peak

This tidy hotel offers spacious rooms and all the amenities you’ll need, such as a spa and wellness center and an outdoor pool. It is located just a 300m walk from the trailhead and offers some views of the surrounding mountains.

Best ‘Premium’ Option: Adams Peak Inn

Ok, there arent any premium places in Dalhousie.. but this is as close as you’ll get (And it’s pretty affordable too)

This is where we hoped to stay, but they were booked out on the date we visited!

Adams Peak Inn is only 600 meters walk from the trailhead, and includes a fitness center, free private parking, a restaurant, a shared kitchen and room service, along with free WiFi. It’s clean, has stunning views of the surrounding mountains, and the perfect sanctuary either before or after your hike.

  • Check prices at Booking.com
  • (View on Maps)
  • Visit their website

4 Tips For Your Adam’s Peak Trip

1. When to Go to Sri Pada

The best time to go to Sri Pada is during the pilgrimage season, which runs from December to May. During this time, the weather is cooler and drier, and the mountain is illuminated with thousands of lights, creating a magical atmosphere.

2. How to Get to Adam’s Peak

To get to Adam’s Peak, you can either travel from Kandy or Nuwara Eliya to Dalhousie, which is the starting point for the hike. From there, you can take a tuk-tuk to the trailhead.

3. Layering is key

The weather on Adam’s Peak can be unpredictable, with temperatures ranging from hot and humid to cold and windy. It is important to dress in layers and bring warm clothing for the summit.

Here are some recommended layers for climbing Adam’s Peak:

These layers are all available for purchase on REI’s website.

4. Avoid the toilets at all cost

The toilets along the trail and at the summit can be unsanitary and unpleasant. They are generally squat toilets, which can be difficult to use for people not accustomed to them. It is recommended to bring your own toilet paper and hand sanitizer and to avoid using the toilets if possible. Some hikers even choose to bring a portable toilet or a pee bottle to avoid having to use the public facilities. It’s important to note that there are no trash cans along the trail or at the summit, so any used toilet paper or sanitary products must be carried out with you.

Tristan Balme the garbage at adams peak

Frequently Asked Questions:

Q. When is it best to climb Adam’s Peak?

The best time to climb Adam’s Peak is during the pilgrimage season, which runs from December to May.

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

While it is not necessary to hire a guide, it can be helpful, especially for first-time climbers. A guide can provide valuable information about the history of sri lanka and adams peak and help you navigate the crowds.

Q. Is Adams Peak hard to climb?

The climb up Adam’s Peak is considered to be moderately difficult, with steep inclines and many steps along the way.

Q. How many km to climb Adams Peak?

The climb up Adam’s Peak is approximately 5.5 kilometers long.

Q. Is Adams Peak worth it?

Absolutely! The climb up Adam’s Peak is a once-in-a-lifetime experience that offers stunning views and a spiritual and cultural journey.

Q. How many steps is Adams Peak?

There are approximately 5,500 steps along the Hatton route, which is the most popular route to the summit.

Q. What is the hardest mountain to climb in Sri Lanka?

Kirigalpoththa, located in the Knuckles Mountain Range, is considered to be the hardest mountain to climb in Sri Lanka.

Kirigalpoththa is not as high as Adam’s Peak, as it stands at around 2,388 meters (7,835 feet) while Adam’s Peak stands at 2,243 meters (7,359 feet). However, Kirigalpoththa is considered to be the hardest mountain to climb in Sri Lanka due to its steep and challenging terrain.

Q. How long does it take to climb Adams Peak?

The climb up Adam’s Peak takes an average of 3-4 hours, depending on your level of fitness and the crowds on the trail.

In conclusion, climbing Adam’s Peak is a challenging yet rewarding experience that offers a glimpse into the culture, history, and spirituality of Sri Lanka. By following these tips and guidelines, you can make the most of your journey and create memories that will last a lifetime.

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