In the middle of Sri Lanka stands a holy mountain: Adam’s Peak. On this mountain all religions seem to come together: according to Christians and Muslims this is the place where Adam took his first step on earth, the Buddhists believe Buddha’s first footstep was set here and for the Hindus, it was Shiva who stepped via this peak on earth. All in all a very holy place. In this travel guide, I will tell you everything you need to know about climbing Adam’s Peak and of course how you get here!
Hiking to Adam’s Peak in the middle of the night
It is two o’clock in the morning and still a bit sleepy we climb the first of 5,500 steps. Yes, you read it correctly. All the way up to the top of Adam’s Peak are long staircases. Together with Canadians Dez and Emmy, we are doing this physical challenge. At first sight, it seems as we are the only ones hiking this trail, but after half an hour of walking, we also meet some other tourists. It’s a bit weird, walking with our torches in the middle of the night while all the temples are abandoned, shops closed and lights are out.
The first hour is easy peasy, then it gets more challenging.
The start of the hike is easy. We walk on flat parts and us ascent gradually on the stairs. But the further we go, the steeper the stairs become. Occasionally, we take a break to catch our breath. Along the way, we see poles that count down to the top. Pole 21 was the start and from pole 9 we only see steep stairs going up.
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The group we are walking with has grown in the meantime. We walk among 20 people of all different nationalities. It looks like a pilgrimage, but it really isn’t, the real pilgrimages only start in a week, at the first full moon of December.
One hour before sunrise we reach Adam’s Peak
Eventually, the climb goes faster than we thought. More than an hour before sunrise we arrive at the top. The wind is blowing hard and it is very cold. I quickly change my sweaty shirt and put on a dry T-shirt with long sleeves. Even after putting more layers on, I am still shivering of the cold. My solution: sit close to Ries and fall asleep in his lap.
Sunrise on Adam’s Peak
Slowly, it starts to get lighter. The sky changes from black to deep blue, dark purple, orange and then … nothing… Just before sunrise, we are suddenly caught in a thick fog bank. There is nothing to see anymore, no sun, no beautiful valley, nothing at all. I cannot believe this is happening right now. We skipped one night for this! One night of precious sleep! What a disappointment!
I almost want to get up to start the descent, but then suddenly we see an orange dot. This becomes brighter and fiercer, it seems as if the sun is trying to shine right through the fog bank. And that works! For a little while, we see the sun and the green valley below us. It is beautiful to see! Around us, you hear people calling “wow” and “amazing”!
The tough descent from Adam’s Peak
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When the sun shines brightly high in the sky, we begin to descend. It is still cold, but that will soon change. The lower we get, the hotter it is. The 5500 steps that we climbed up are perhaps even heavier to go down. Everyone has trembling leg muscles and cramped calves. I am happy with the walking stick I bought in Nepal, which takes a lot of pressure off my knees.
Two and a half hours later we are sweaty at the bottom of the mountain where we are greeted by our driver. Tired we get in the car after a quick breakfast and all fall asleep! Adam’s Peak was a fun hike with magnificent views, definitely worth it!
Travel guide: Is climbing Adam’s Peak difficult?
We found the climb to Adam’s Peak not very difficult. If you are in normal shape, this mountain is definitly doable. Of course, there are many stairs and you climb more than 1000 meters, but the stairs are reasonably well maintained. There are also poles that indicate which part of the hike you are on. These divide the hike into 21 equal parts, so you can estimate how far you are. Finally, there is a tea shop every few hundred meters where you can catch your breath.
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Note: This hike can be heavy for people with bad knees. We saw many people (young and old) struggling on their way down.
Tip: don’t leave too early! Our driver indicated that it would certainly be four hours to the top. We took our time for the hike and were still at the top within three hours. Therefore, we had to wait another hour before sunrise. Do not make this mistake and get an extra hour of sleep!
Do you need a guide while climbing Adam’s Peak?
No, the road is well signposted and you will definitely not get lost. In addition, the climb is also not at all technical (they are just stairs, although a lot of stairs). A guide is therefore not required during the ascent to Adam’s Peak.
Don’t underestimate the cold!
What can make the climb of Adam’s Peak tough is the time you climb. With just a few hours of sleep or no sleep at all combined with the cold on the mountain, it can be physically challenging. We had definitly underestimated the cold when you reach the top. Since we had to wait a bit before sunrise, we all were shivering with cold at the top. At the starting point of the trail it was still 23 degrees, but 1000 meters higher the wind was blowing strong and it was no warmer than 5 degrees. Absolutely bring gloves, a hat and a thick jacket if you can!