Adam’s Peak, Sri Lanka: To Climb or Not To Climb?

When I was planning this trip to Sri Lanka I wasn’t sure about Adam’s Peak.

I had read that it was HARD and frankly, I didn’t know if I could hack it. I discussed it with Toni and he suggested we give it a go. The great thing about this trip to Sri Lanka was that nothing would be set in stone. We could always change our minds if we needed to.

This took the pressure off and so Adam’s Peak was added to our itinerary.

Read here about how I planned my Sri Lanka itinerary.

Adam's Peak

As it turned out, climbing Adam’s Peak was one of my best experiences in Sri Lanka and is now one of the things I remember most when I think about our three weeks there. It is one of the most rewarding hikes I’ve done and I wouldn’t hesitate to do it again.

So if you’re on the fence about Adam’s Peak, do it!

Adam’s Peak in a nutshell

If you didn’t know, Adam’s Peak is a “spiritual hill” where pilgrims climb over 5,200 steps from the tiny village of Dalhousie up to the summit of the hill.

Adam’s Peak is a place of worship and spirituality for all religions, but the Buddhists seem to have claimed it as their own. However, the name Adam’s Peak comes from Christianity as it is said that the squashed form of the top of the hill is where Adam first stepped on earth and left his footprint.

For the Hindus Adam’s Peak is where Shiva left his footprint and for the Buddhists it is where Buddha left his footprint.

This means that there is a whole mixing pot of cultures and religions making their pilgrimage to the top of Adam’s Peak. Plus travellers like us that just want to take the challenge and enjoy the experience.

When to climb Adam’s Peak

Most travellers start out at around 2am and get there just before dawn to see the sunrise from the top of the hill. And we decided to do it this way too.

When I was doing my research I figured we’d need to set off at 3am but everyone we spoke to in Dalhousie was leaving at 2am so we thought we’d better do the same.

Do your research right and then trust it!

As it happened, my calculations were spot on and 3am would have been the perfect time to set off. That way we wouldn’t have spent an hour freezing at the top when our own sweat-soaked clothes got cold.

On the other hand, had we left it until later we might not have bumped into a couple from our own small town in Mallorca at the top of the peak.

Depending on what time of year you climb Adam’s Peak your experience could be quite different. We were there at the end of January, the day after Poya Day, which we had spent in Kandy. I had read that Adam’s Peak is completely packed on Poya Day with Buddhists that make the climb on this special day and I was a bit worried that one day later it would still be heaving. There was even one account I read where people didn’t make it to the top due to the crowds. I knew I would be gutted if I’d come all that way and not made it to the top.

But I needn’t have worried as there was just the right balance of people: not too many to make it uncomfortable and just enough to still have that carnival atmosphere.

On the other hand, I read about people climbing Adam’s Peak during the rainy season and barely seeing a soul.

At the end of this post I’ll share posts from other bloggers with you, as well as my own photos.

My Experience at Adam’s Peak

I’m not going to go into great detail, as I’ve already shared part of my Adam’s Peak experience here. But I would like to mention a few things which will be useful for those planning on climbing Adam’s Peak.


It rained in Dalhousie, as I mentioned here. I really thought the rain was going to ruin our excursion but I was wrong.

Apparently it always rains in Dalhousie. We were told that it starts mid-afternoon and stops around midnight. And that’s exactly what happened. When we went to bed at about 8pm it was absolutely bouncing down and had been for hours. When we got up at around 2am it had stopped.

Pace yourself

The walk is hard.

On the way up there are many tea stands and places serving refreshments. Set out early, take your time and make good use of them. The lights that you see lining the path the whole way up are from these stands.

What really made me laugh was when groups of young 20 year olds would power on past those of us huffing and puffing and taking our time, only to completely run out of energy and have to stop and wait, while the oldies passed them again. Then they’d tear on past again and have to stop again.

Take a change of clothes

Boy do you sweat going up Adam’s Peak! When you reach the top at 5am and stop, you suddenly freeze as your wet clothes turn icy cold. If I hadn’t had a nice warm change of clothes, I don’t think I would have enjoyed it half as much due to the discomfort I would have faced.

You don’t need to take much else with you on the hike: a small bottle of water (as you can buy more on the way), your camera (obviously) and sun cream for the way down.

Save some energy for the last part

The last steps at the top are the steepest and the narrowest and the busiest.

Going up is hard enough but when you start to come down your legs shake uncontrollably!

Do it

This is my best advice to you and I’m so glad I took it myself. This walk is extremely enjoyable and is totally unique. If you are in two minds about climbing Adam’s Peak, just go for it. And let me know how it went.

Adam’s Peak Photos

Here are a few pics we took at Adam’s Peak:

magic of adams peak

Setting off to climb Adam’s Peak

Adam's Peak 2016

Setting out from Dalhousie at 2.30am

Adam's Peak 2016

A bit of spiritual help for the way up never hurts

Adam's Peak 2016

Tea shops line the way

Adam's Peak 2016

Waiting patiently at the top for the sunrise

Adam's Peak 2016

There it is!

Adam's Peak 2016

Stunning Sri Lankan countryside from the top of Adam’s Peak

Adam's Peak 2016

The famous Sri Pada shadow

Adam's Peak 2016

Above the clouds

Adam's Peak 2016

On top of the world

Adam’s Peak blogs

I have mentioned before that finding info about Sri Lanka when I was planning this trip was bloody hard. I would like to thank the following blogs for inspiring me to climb Adam’s Peak and for sharing great information. Now I’d like to pass my Adam’s Peak research on to you (in no particular order):

Have you got a favourite post about Adam’s Peak? Share it in the comments section.

To continue with the story, read the next installment of my Sri Lanka trip here.

I would like to remind you that all the photos used on are my own unless otherwise stated.
You can see my whole collection of Travel Photos here.

Filed Under: asiafeaturedReligion and CultureSri LankaSri Lanka Hill Country


About the Author: Lisa, born and grew up in England, live in Mallorca, Spain... Have visited more than 20 countries, have twice as many to yet visit, love sharing experiences....

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  1. GIbbsesFamily says:

    Hi I only just discovered your travel blogs and am absolutely loving them. Im travelling with the family (including 2 fit teenagers) to Sri Lanka and just planning the itinery now. This post has convinced me to do this climb. How long does it take? What sort of training would help with this climb? Are there bathrooms along the route?

    • Lisa says:

      I’m glad you are enjoying the blog and are finding it useful.
      If you guys are fit I don’t think there is any need for special training as long as you just take your time during the ascent. Of course regularly hiking hills will help with preparation. I started from Dalhousie at 2.30am. I wish I’d started at 3.00am but if you want to get to the top and get one of the best positions for the view of the sunrise then maybe you should set off early. Many people set off at 2.00am. Take a change of clothes because it is cold up there before dawn and sweat-soaked clothes soon turn icy – nice huh? There are plenty of places for refreshments along the way and some of these places have toilets but I’m not sure if you have to pay to use them. There are many trees too!
      The hike up took me about 2.5 hours and I was going at a steady rhythm with a few rest stops. I’d say my pace was about average. The way down took about 1.5 hours.
      Hope this helps. Have a brilliant time.
      Lisa xx

      • GibbsesFamily says:

        Thanks Lisa. I like the idea of leaving at 3am and not 2am but we are going in April and it will be busy. Will see when we get there. We have one of the steepest hills in Sydney in my suburb so I will get the family practicing hill climbs over the next month. Thank you for your tips and feedback!

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