The hike up Adam’s Peak is one of Sri Lanka’s greatest experiences. Not only is this an excuse to test your stamina and attempt Sri Lanka’s fifth-highest peak, but it is also very much a cultural experience. From the full moon in December to the full moon in May, devotees from all four of Sri Lanka’s religions – most barefoot, some carrying infants, and others on crutches – climb to the top of this peak to pay homage to Sri Pada, or the ‘Sacred Footprint’, which lies at the summit. The original story claims this as the footprint of Lord Buddha, however, over subsequent years it has been claimed by other religions too; Muslims attribute it to Adam, Hindus to Shiva, and Christians to St Thomas, the founder of Christianity in India.
Adam’s Peak is typically climbed in the early hours of the morning, from 1:00am onwards, so that you reach the summit at dawn to catch the most spectacular sunrise. From the base of the mountain, it usually takes around 3-4 hours to reach the summit, depending upon your stamina and level of fitness. The route is well marked, and during the December-May season it is also well lit and flanked by food and drink stalls (lots of hot rotis, wades, fruits, sweet tea, and sugary treats) catering to weary pilgrims, so it is almost impossible to go hungry. You should aim to reach the summit around 5:30-6:00am, so you don’t have to withstand the morning cold for too long and are in time to witness the magical sunrise on the day (provided clear weather).
The climb is challenging as the 7 kilometre hike is mostly stepped (think over 6,000 steps), and this can tax even seasoned hikers. The descent is quicker and takes around 2.5-3 hours (again, depending on your stamina and fitness), and it feels like a completely different trail as you suddenly have verdant mountains, lakes, waterfalls, cloud forest and hills to appreciate. The mountain, located within the Peak Wilderness Sanctuary, is also home to a lot of wildlife. You can climb the peak during the day if you wish (it may be cloudy at the top, and very hot) or out of season (May to November), though bear in mind there will be no food stalls or lights. There are many more walks in the Peak Wilderness Sanctuary, so please ask us if you’d like to venture further. We can arrange a guide to escort you to the top or you may just wish to go yourself.