When researching what I wanted to do in Sri Lanka I stumbled across Adam’s Peak- it is a pilgrimage consisting of 5,200 steps to the top of the mountain. I immediately rearranged my whole itinerary so that I could participate in this pilgrimage. Okay- so it wasn’t much of a pilgrimage for my friend and I as we both cursed and moaned our way up.
As we climbed all 5,200 steps at 2 a.m. I kept having to remind my friend that this was considered a religious journey and to stop swearing with every step. Despite the struggle, once we reached the top of the mountain every single step was worth it.
The ascent starts out pretty dark. Some people bring a head lamp which would help. I did it without one and didn’t have any troubles. After passing the first bit, the path was lit for the rest of the way. The moon was also shining like crazy that night- it was wild!
For the trek you most definitely do not need a guide. You would have to try really hard to lose your way- you literally just follow the staircase. While going up I think that it is important to enjoy your climb up. Stop to stretch out your legs (you’ll be happy that you did the next day), eat a snack or simply enjoy the gorgeous night sky.
Once you get near the top, the stairs start to get a lot steeper- but you are also a lot more motivated. After the last food stand there are about 600 stairs left to go. My friend and I would power through 100 stairs, take a break, power through a hundred more …However, eventually the stairs are divided by a handrail and it can be hard to pass people so you just have to go at whatever pace people are in front of you.
Finally, you will reach the top!
Once you are at the top head to the opposite side of the stairs which is where you will get the best view of the sunrise. It will be very crowded so you want to make sure that you arrive at the top about 30 minutes before sunrise so that you can stake out a good spot without getting too cold.
Once the sun began to rise it was one of the most amazing sunrises that I have ever seen in my lifetime. Since we were so high up we literally saw the rays of light shining through the clouds before we could even see the sun. As the sun rose it changed colours from deep reds to vibrant oranges. I was in awe.
As soon as the sun rose people started hurrying back down the mountain. I don’t understand why because even after the sun rises the view is still stunning. The clouds rolling over the lush green hills is a sight in itself. You worked hard for this moment, enjoy it. I am very happy that I made the journey to do this hike because it was one my favourite moments in Sri Lanka.
How Long it Takes:
To start the hike most people begin at 2:00 a.m. I started around 2:30 a.m which left us plenty of time to stop to stretch, grab a snack along the way and secure a good spot to view the sunrise. If you are super fit you can leave at 3 a.m and that will allow for a comfortable amount of time. If you have just come from a party week in Thailand and haven’t gone for a run in a while than you should leave around 2 a.m.
The sunrise is usually between 5:45-6:30 so by the time you finish watching it and make your way back down it will be around 9 a.m- and you still have the whole day ahead of you!
Best Time to Go:
The pilgrimage season for climbing the peak is from December- May. This is when the path will be lit up for you so there is no need to bring a headlamp. It is beautiful to go during the pilgrimage season, however, make sure to avoid weekends as they will be too crowded for you to enjoy the experience fully. As well, avoid going during a full moon as this is when all of the locals try to climb Adam’s Peak- it may be so crowded that you might not even reach the peak.
I went on a Friday a few days before the full moon in high season and it was fine- a little crowded at the top but I managed to weasel my way into the perfect sunrise viewing spot.
What to Bring:
Headlamp– If you are going in the off season definitely bring a head torch or flashlight. If you are going during the pilgrimage season you should be fine depending on the moon’s brightness.
Extra clothes-When you start climbing the stairs you may start sweating and getting a little toasty- but when you reach the top of the peak where the air is a lot cooler and the sun is not up yet you will be very chilly. Pack warm clothes for when you are sitting at the top waiting for the sunrise.
Food– It can be hard to make yourself eat at such an odd time but you are exercising for about 6 hours and your body needs nourishment. Buy some food the night before, such as fruit, to snack on when you start feeling hungry. You can purchase food the morning of your climb (there are stalls all of the way up) but the prices that they charge a lot more
How to Get There:
Take the train to Hatton (in the middle of the famous train journey from Kandy to Ella). Once you arrive in Hatton there will be buses waiting outside that take you to Dalhousie. There are tuk-tuks too but they won’t get you there any faster.
Dalhousie is a tiny town that has a lot of options for accommodation