Adam’s Peak, also known as Sri Pada, is a 2,243m (7,359 ft) mountain in the central highland region of Sri Lanka. Popular for Sri Lankans and tourists alike. The typical climb is started in the middle of the night so you can reach the peak for a breathtaking sunrise.
For Sri Lankans, Sri Pada is an important pilgrimage site. However, The religious significance of Adam’s Peak greatly depends on who you’re talking to…
Buddhists – claim the footprint mark is the left foot of Buddha
Hindus – consider the footprint to belong to none other than Lord Shiva
Muslims & Christians – believe it’s Adam’s first step after being exiled from the Garden of Eden.
Whatever your beliefs, waking up in the middle of the night to trek was worthwhile and the sunrise is nothing short of spectacular.
In this guide you will learn:
- Travel logistics (getting there, when to climb, what type climb)
- Example itineraries
- 9 Tips to ensure you’re prepared (coming down is the worst part)
Closest city: Dalhousie (Some climb from Ratnapura)
Difficulty: Easy-Moderate (If you’re looking for something more challenging, see Mt Rinjani)
Elevation: 2,243m (7,359 ft) at the peak. Gain nearly 1,000 meters (3,280ft)
Time Commitment: 5-7 hours
Altitude Sickness: Not a concern
How to reach Dalhousie:
Most people take a train to Hatton and then a bus or tuk-tuk t0 Dalhousie. Hatton can be reached by train or bus from Colombo, Kandy, Ella, etc.
Hatton to Dalhousie by bus takes 1.5hours and costs 75 LKR ($.60 USD)
Hatton to Dalhousie by tuk-tuk takes 1 hour and costs 1,000-1,500 LKR ($7-11 USD)
Buses leave every 10 minutes and the ride is beautiful.
What type of climb is Adam’s Peak?
Mix of incline trekking and 5,000-6,000 crumbling stone steps. Challenging but nothing like climbing Mr Rinjani in Indonesia. Going up is ok, but going down is very hard on your knees and IT bands. No technical climbing necessary. Takes most people 2-4 hours to summit based on fitness, crowds, and breaks. 1-2hours to come back down.
Avoid the Crowds
Climbing Adam’s Peak (Sri Pada) is very popular for tourists and locals alike. Avoid peak times or you’ll be surrounded by religious pilgrims and Sri Lankan families for the trek.
Bathrooms are found every 20 mins during the trek. They will be disgusting – what did you expect?
Best time of year?
January – May. Avoid days near the full moon and the week of Sri Lankan New year (mid April), and the weekend if possible. During these busy times the trek will be so crowded you may have to wait 5-10 hours in a line to reach the peak.
Unknowing to our fate… we started our trek on the Sri Lankan new year, and 2 days after the full moon. The perfect storm. It was like climbing endless stairs in a crowded mall the day before Christmas.
We were 98% on the top (we could see it) and yet the line was supposed to take 5 or more hours. Sad to say we never officially reached the peak. Although, we still had a great time and saw an outstanding sunrise.
Example Itineraries for Sri Pada (Adam’s peak)
How many days should you stay in Dalhousie?
Most people stay for 2 nights which is enough to see the town, make the trek, and spend a day resting your legs. Dalhousie is in a beautiful area but there are much better places to stay in the central highlands (Ella, Deniyaya, Nuwer Ellya, etc).
Arrive on day 1, check out the town and get to bed early (9PM). Wake up at 2AM and start trekking immediately. Plan to reach the summit by 5AM, watch the sunrise, then come back down. You should be back down around 8AM just in time for a big breakfast and nap. Spend the rest of your day enjoying the scenery and stretching your sore legs. The following day get on an early bus to Hatton and take the train to your next destination.
Arrive on day 1, check out town, go to bed at 9PM. Wake up at 2AM and start trekking immediately. Reach the summit at 5AM, watch sunrise and come back down by 8AM. Big breakfast and a quick nap before taking the 11AM bus back to Hatton. Warning: your legs will be sore and the 1.5 hour bus leaving Dalhousie may be crowded – anticipate standing on the local bus for the journey.
Where to stay in Dalhousie (Adam’s Peak)
Guesthouses for all budgets are available in the Dalhousie area (closest city Adam’s Peak). We stayed at White House and enjoyed our stay. Tons of food and activities are within walking distance of the Dalhousie area. I’d recommend staying at one of the budget or mid range hotels.
Most of the budget/midrange hotels are all on one main road. The high end accommodation tends to be on beautiful tea plantations a few miles from Adam peak.
Budget traveler options near Adams peak
- White House [$25 USD/night] clean double rooms at a good price. Great location.
- Grand Adams Peak [$25 USD/night] – only 350 feet from Adam’s peak. Each room gets a balcony. Great value and location.
Mid range accommodation near Sri Pada
- White Elephant Hotel [$46 USD] Great location, nice digs, great view of Adam’s peak from balcony.
- Punsisi Rest [$57 USD] Good location and great view.
Luxury accommodation near Adams peak
- Mandira Craig Appin Bungalow [$225 USD] – Very nice place, great food, great amenities.
Where to eat near Adam’s Peak (Sri Pada)
The guesthouses have extensive menus but are extremely overpriced. Walk a short distance to town (near the start of the trek) and you’ll find many local restaurants. Think rice and curry for 100-170 LKR ($1 USD) and Rotti for 30-50 LKR. ($.25 USD)
Tea houses line your trek however it’s best to buy your food/water for the trek in town to avoid high prices during the trek. Don’t worry all the shops and restaurants are open 24/7 to accommodate the trekkers start trekking in the middle of the night.
What to pack when climbing Adam’s Peak (Sri Pada)
- Small backpack
- Rain coat
- Water bottle – we love this one made by hydroflask
- Camera – this is the one I own and love
- Travel Insurance in case of injury (we use and recommend World Nomads)
- Sunglasses for the way down
- Trekking poles – protect your knees!
- Snacks – purchase from town unless you want to pay extra on the trek
- A warm and DRY sweater – necessary while waiting for the sunrise
- Sunscreen for the trek down
- A good attitude – these steps are NOT fun and never seem to end
Other activities in Dalhousie:
Fishing, waterfall tour, spice farm, tea plantation visit, etc. We didn’t do any of these things as the prices were really high and we only stayed 2 nights. Most guesthouses will be happy to arrange for you, of course for a small commission.
9 tips for trekking Adam’s Peak
1) Reach the peak for sunrise!
Start the trek between 1-2AM so you have time for a couple short breaks, and to ensure you see the sunrise from the summit.
2) Bring layers!
You will be hot and sweaty during the summit but as soon as you reach the peak you will stop moving and the cool air will chill you to the bone. Trek in a t-shirt, and bring a dry sweatshirt for the summit.
The locals will mostly wear long pants, coats, hats, and gloves.
3) Avoid the crowds!
Avoid: Sri Lankan New Year (mid April), any full moon, and if possible even the weekend.
Sherry Ott’s account of climbing Adam’s Peak during full moon (great pictures too)
4) Buy fruit from town ahead of time
Your only options on the trek are roti, chips, sweets, and chickpeas. If you prefer healthy food, stock up before it’s too late.
5) Wear comfortable shoes
Most locals where flip flops, some go barefoot – no idea how that is possible. Wear trainers, or Chacos. (I wore Chacos which I absolutely LOVE and they worked great)
6) Go at your own pace
Climbing stairs is a different game. Make sure you don’t completely burn yourself out before coming back down. Take some short breaks.
7) If knee pain, then trekking poles
You will be climbing up (and down) more than 5,000 steps. If you have knee pain (and even if you don’t) your knees will hurt for a day or two. Be nice to your knees and use trekking poles (or find a stick). My favorite pair of trekking poles is the Black Diamond Trail Ergo Cork. The “bent handle” saves your wrists and elbows on long treks. Cork handles ensure you don’t lose your grip. Collapse down small enough to stow away when you’re not using them.
8) Try to make it down by 8AM
Once the sun rises, the temperature climbs fast. The direct sunlight takes a lot out of you. If you are at the summit for sunrise, you will be back well before 8AM.
Heading to Sri Lanka or Adam’s peak soon? Book a hotel via Booking.com
What trekking tips did I miss?Cover photo credit: Sri Lankan Spirit