Sri Lanka: climbing Adam’s Peak

Adam’s Peak for tourists, Sri Pada for the locals. A mount with a height of 2,243 meters above sea level. It would be nothing extraordinary (just a hill, one of many), if not the fact that it is a single peak (shaped like a pyramid) with a Buddhist temple on the top – one of the 12 places of pilgrimage in Sri Lanka – and you can admire there spectacular sunrises. For this purpose we decided to climb up there, but somehow it didn’t work out.

Why didn’t work out? Oh, that’s a really crazy story!

You can read my other crazy stories here: How I went with Sri Lankan to the Jungle and About a boy who talked to me about prostitutes.

And if you are going to Sri Lanka make sure that you read all the practical information I’ve collected for you!


Czytaj o Adam’s Peak po polsku na Plecak i walizka!

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Crazy trip to the Adam’s Peak

We wanted to start climbing with no rush around midnight, because the sunrise is at 6 am. That was the plan.

There was 5 of us: my friend Martyna, who was living and working in Sri Lanka that time, Varvara – her friend from Russia, who also worked in Colombo, Bernard – Sri Lankan whom Mar rented room from, Jo – Bernard’s son, who was born in England, so he doesn’t speak or read any Sinhala, and me.

When we picked up the car (Bernard bought it 3 days before going to the AP) from the service, suddenly a huge downpour came. It turned out that our windscreen wipers do not work (before leaving the car in the service only one was not working…), so our gentlemen came up with the brilliant idea to rub the windscreen with chewed tobacco leaves…

First, we drove slowly from store to store to buy the leaves and then Bernard and Jo chewed and rubbed the glass. Perfect, the glass was waxed so well that the water flowed smoothly and we could see everything.

The problem was that… as soon as Bernard and Jo finished rubbing the glass, the rain stopped, so again we had to drive around looking for a gas station to clean it… (Jo for a moment had an idea to wipe it with his t-shirt, but it didn’t work.) I don’t know how much time we lost but finally, after washing the windscreen we left Colombo.

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Stairway to Heaven

We drove the unlit roads through sleeping Sri Lankan villages, when it turned out that… our music failed. We didn’t want to listen to a Sri Lankan radio (mercy!), so we decided to download music and record a CD. 😛

We left the Torrent on during the day and went to the beach. After coming back we recorded the disc without checking the music. And unfortunately, it turned out that the internet went off when we were by the ocean and each song lasted 30 seconds…

And so we drove through the Sri Lankan jungle and our ears suffered unimaginable agony when suddenly in the middle of nowhere we saw one shop still open. A STORE WITH CD’s. We took advantage of the occasion and stopped to buy something with Britney and Enrique, and the seller even offered that he will download music from the Internet and record our own compilation. (Sri Lanka, lol :D)

When we were waiting for the CD, the seller asked us where we were going. We responded proudly that we were going to the Adam’s Peak and… the seller was surprised and said that it was not this way. …

So we had to get back on a good road and after a while we have finally seen it – the Stairway to Heaven, which is an lit path that leads to the Adam’s Peak. However, we had another problem already – in front of us was a crossroads, and we didn’t know which way to go.

We asked some local people about the way, but they only told us that both roads will lead to the summit. They could not, however, say which one would be better for our old car, and both led through the jungle.

After an hour of driving on terribly bumpy road we stopped by a waterfall. We were afraid to go further, not to damage the chassis. The place was pretty scary – surrounded by jungle, which at night bombarded us with all possible sounds.

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Mar and Jo saw a light through the trees and came up with an idea that they will go there to ask about the way forward. The idea was pretty scary, especially if you have seen so many horror movies in your life – you know the moment when the main character in a dark forest sees the light, and there is a psychopath killing people? That’s what I thought then.

But Mar and Jo went in that direction and returned after 10 minutes almost running. The house’s doors and windows were open, the light was on, and in the middle there was no one… Next to the house there was a ground mark with a skull and crossbones and title Safety first

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In addition, all the time by the waterfall Bernard was a fraught. There was another sign in Sinhala language and at the beginning he didn’t want to translate it for us… Later he said the board informed that this waterfall is dedicated to some goddess-a-la-vampire who sucked people into the waterfall so they drowned there. And it was kind a cursed place…

We got into the car and just drove away. Somehow we managed to get to the village at the foot of the Adam’s Peak, but because of our crazy adventure our entry began at 5 am. We could only dream about admiring the sunrise from the summit. Although from the trail it also looked quite well.

adam's peak

Stairway to Heaven

The trail is lit, because a lot of people climb at night to see the sunrise. There are probably no less crowded hours. Mainly tourists climb during the night, pilgrims – during the day. It is busy all the time. And for all those people are prepared lanterns and small shops.

And stairs.

The stairs extend from the beginning of the trail to the summit. Nearly 5 km (3,11 miles) one way, around 4.7 km to be precise. There are about 4500 of them. Don’t know exactly, because I counted when I was walking down, but I was already so tired that I could make few mistakes… Maybe there are few houndred steps… more or less? 😀 Anyway, the stairs have nearly 5 km.

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This is not the best facilitation. As you know legs are less tired when we put them on uneven ground and as a result every muscle move is different. Here it’s always the same thing – the path is flat, which is tiring for feet, knee bends almost all the time at the same angle, thigh’s muscles get tired faster because you have to put a quite large steps… But there is no other choice.

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The climbing itself is not very pleasant. It is hard to call it a climb, it’s just walking up the steps. Fortunately, views make up the toil, because although we didn’t see the sunrise from the summit, it makes also good impression from the trail. And the higher you are, the more beautiful are the mountains in the morning mist. 🙂

The most crowded part of the trail is just after the middle, where pilgrims light up incense sticks at a statue of the Buddha, tie prayer cards, and then anyone who goes to the top the first time in his life, unroll behind him white thread. Such a baptism of fire.

Theoretically, we also should, but then we would reach the top in three days.

The Temple on the Top

At the top the is the temple of Sri Pada. Fine, I admit it. I was so tired that the last thing I wanted was taking pictures. Besides, somehow I felt uncomfortable to take pictures during the the ceremony and I would fly around with the camera? The temple is not large. I had the feeling that everyone’s looking at us (maybe because we clearly looked like tourists, hm?), so even there is no thinking about hiding in the crowd. So as a result I took not so many pictures.

In this temple very important for Buddhists relic is stored – the footprint of the Buddha. This is why pilgrims come here in such large numbers. There is also a bell, which you can ring after the ceremony, as many times as already visited Sri Pada. One Sri Lankan rang 23 times! 🙂

The footprint of… ?

The footprint (incredibly large as a foot, because it’s 1.5 meter long …) is attributed not only to the Buddha. According to Christians, it belongs to Saint Thomas, who after Jesus’s death went east to convert the people of India and Sri Lanka to Christianity. Hindus believe that it belongs to the god Shiva. Muslims claim that it is the footprint of the first man created by God, that is Adam.

Because the name of this place refers to him. Adam and Eve are in all Abrahamic religions, and because the surroundings are so beautiful, you can easily say that this place is just the Garden of Eden.

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And then from that Eden you need to go down to the world of ordinary mortals. Let me be clear – the worst walk of my life. My legs were so exhausted, like wool, trembling with every movement, just a moment of inattention can cause a contusion. What is more, we descended during the worst moment, because of the heat… As a result, I took breaks more frequently than I did while climbing up and a walk down took me roughly the same time as walk up (about 4-5 hours).

I can’t tell if you really need to visit Adam’s Peak. It’s a nice place, but it’s so exhausting experience (I was in pain of the soreness in my legs for next 3 days …) If you cannot imagine yourself walking 5 km up and then down again just to take a look of beautiful area, I suggest to drop it. But if someone chooses to go to Sri Lanka just for this type of experience, I strongly encourage! 🙂

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Adam’s Peak – practical information

The best season to climb the Adam’s Peak runs from December to early April. From May to September there is a rainy season in the mountains and the rain prevents observation of the sunrise. I mean it is really impossible to see the sunrise.

Depending on your fitness it is good to start climbing the Adam’s Peak between midnight and 2am. Remember that this is not the easiest walk, but the 5 km path with stairs (over 4500 steps). For sure you’ll have the soreness in your muscles for next 3 days.

The entrance staircase starts from the village called Nallathaniya. Najławiej get there by train from Kandy to Dickoya or Hatton and then by bus.

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  1. Good evening dear Lady,
    Thank you so much for been travelled in my motherland.A bunch of flowers offer to you for that dear Lady.When reading your long, newsy very interesting statements about my motherland with beautiful photos of important places i feel like to embrace you with love.You have written about the good and hospitality about our people.At times you may have come across some blacksheeps too. If so i am sorry for that.I think that may normal in any country.I understood that you are satisfied about your tour in Sri Lanka Thank you good Lady.welcome back to Sri Lanka again.Bless you dear good Lady with the blessings of my Lord BUDDHA. If you be kind enough to reply back to me i would be much oblige to you dear good Lady. Bye from Sri Lanka.
    Thank you.
    Lochana Nilangi.

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