hike Adam's Peak

Hiking Adam’s Peak, Sri Lanka

Adam’s Peak, also known as Sri Pada or “Sacred Footprint” is a 2,243 m (7,360 ft) mountain in the Central Highlands of Sri Lanka. It is a sacred pilgrimage for Sri Lankans and tourists alike. Most people begin the journey in the middle of the night and climb the 5400 steps to reach the top in time for a breathtaking sunrise. To hike Adam’s Peak can be quite challenging, but should definitely be on your list of Top 10 Things to do in Sri Lanka.

The Pilgrimage

There is a temple at the peak and the trek up will have a different significance depending on who you talk to. At the top of Adam’s Peak, Buddhists believe that the temple holds the sacred left footprint of Buddha himself. The Hindus believe it belongs to Shiva. While Muslims and Christians believe it was Adam’s first step after being banished from the Garden of Eden.


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The busiest times are during Full Moon, religious holidays and especially the week of Sri Lankan New Year (mid April). I recommend to avoid these times like the plague as the trail will be insanely full of people.

How To Get There

The closest town to Adam’s Peak is Dalhousie. Some people also climb from Ratnapura on the other side. From Ella you can take the train to Hatton, and from their an hour tuk-tuk or bus to Dalhousie. This is the closest starting point to hike Adam’s Peak.

Take the Scenic Train – Ella to Hatton

Top Activities – Ella, Sri Lanka

There are many different types of accommodation available in Dalhousie. Upscale guesthouses, backpackers or more simple guesthouses. The closest one to the start of the walk is The Green House Guest House. Cheaper rooms run by a lovely family and great local food.



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The Hike

The hike itself up Adam’s Peak will take between 2-4 hours up and about 2 down depending on fitness level. The trail consists of 5400 concrete steps, some of which are quite high. It is tough on your knees, especially coming down so bear that in mind if you have serious knee problems. Try to keep your momentum on your way up so it’s not so hard.


reclining buddha adam's peak sri lank


Some people leave from as early as 2 am to hike Adam’s Peak. This will depend on where you are staying in Dalhousie and your fitness level. Give yourself enough time to take breaks. We left at 3:30 am and got there before sunrise around 5:30 am.

There is no fixed entrance price to the trail but a donation is appreciated by the monks welcoming you. Yep, they’re even there at 2 in the morning! A monk will bless you and tie a white cotton thread around your wrist as a symbol of protection and luck as you embark on your journey. You then ring the big bell, and start your ascent.


Adam's Peak


In the off season the path is not lit so a flashlight is needed. The trail starts off being relatively easy, becoming more challenging as you go. We had the light of the half moon for most of the way which was perfect, so we could switch of the flashlight and let our eyes adjust. That feeling of being up in the clouds under the stars and the moon is something rather spiritual.

There are little shops along the way where you can buy water and snacks. However, if you want fruit or healthier snack buy them beforehand, it will be cheaper too. There are bathrooms along the way but you probably won’t want to use them. I’ll leave it at that.

At The Top of Adam’s Peak

Ideally you will arrive there a little before sunrise. You will feel hot and sweaty from the climb up but it will be cold and probably windy. Make sure you bring warm, dry clothes. I even brought a little blanket to wrap up in while we waited for the sun to come up. You can buy a hot cup of tea and have a snack break. You will see the temple, inside which lies the Sacred Footprint. The is a bell which you can ring and make a wish. We even came across a couple of young pups that were curled up in the cold on the steps around the temple. Puzzled and concerned as to why they were up here, we fed them a couple of cookies and tried to make friends. They were a little shy.


Adam's Peak temple sri lanka


The view is of course totally weather dependent so don’t be too let down if it’s cloudy. We just caught the top of the sunrise before the clouds took over and we were engulfed in a wet, drizzly mist. There was talk of the weather clearing within the hour so we braved the cold and stayed as long as we could, but to no avail.

We began our descent, followed by our new four-legged friends (thank god they were getting out of the cold). A little tip for coming down to help your knees is to walk in a zig-zig way, down the steps. The steps are wide so you can actually walk down them diagonally, across 3 or 4, and then back the opposite way down the next few. This really helps with the impact on your knees. Near the bottom you will be able to see all the shrines and pagodas you passed on the way up. After you hike Adam’s Peak you’re legs will be jelly, so I suggest you take a rest day and a hot bath to help you recover!



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Things To Pack to Hike Adam’s Peak

  • Small backpack/daypack
  • Light raincoat
  • Warm clothing – layers!
  • Flashlight
  • Camera
  • Water
  • Snacks
  • Sunglasses or hat for the way down
  • Sunscreen
  • A good attitude! The steps can be tough and feel like they never end


Adam's Peak Sri Lanka pagoda

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