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Know All – Climbing Adam’s Peak (Sri Padaya), Sri Lanka

So what is Adam’s Peak and why is it called called Adam’s Peak ? And why should you be climbing Adam’s peak aka Sri Padaya in Sri Lanka ? Read on to know it all.

Located in the central valley of Sri Lanka, this  7,359 ft mountain is a sacred pilgrimage destination where the countries all religions meet together.

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Climbing Adam’s Peak or Sri Padaya

I had one of the most surreal experiences climbing Adam’s peak at 2:30AM in the morning on a cool December morning as we progressed through the stairs that take you to the top where 100s of fellow hikers, and devotees wait in queue to watch the sunrise among the mountain ranges. If you can carve out a couple of days in your Sri Lanka itinerary, I highly recommend climbing Adam’s peak.

Why is Adam’s Peak Called Adam’s Peak ?

There is believed to be foot prints imprinted at the peak of this mountain. Buddhists believe it’s the footprint of Buddha. Thus it is called Sri Padaya or Sri Pada or Siripada by locals. Pada means “foot” in Tamil. You can believe me on this translation. I am a native Tamil speaker.

On the other hand, Christians and Muslims in the country believe the foot print is that of Adam who set foot at the top of the mountain, coming out of the heaven into the earth. Thus the peak is called Adam’s peak and has been a pilgrimage site for this reason.

Where is Adams Peak Located ?

Adam’s peak is located at the central valley of Sri Lanka. Approximately ~150km to the east of Colombo and ~72km south of Nuwara Eliya.

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How to Get to Adam’s Peak ?

Basically you need to get to the town of Nallathanniya. This is the base of the climb. The entire town of Nallathanniya is basically a couple of streets with lot of small restaurants, shops and hotels to cater to the tourists.

To check the train schedule, check Sri Lanka Railway’s website. 

Nuwara Eliya to Adam’s Peak

From Nuwara Eliya, we took a public bus to Hatton. To reach Hatton it took around 2-hours. From Hotton, we took another bus to a place called Nallathanniya.

We had to wait for an hour at Hatton to get the bus to Nallathanniya. I had an amazing one hour here. Since it’s a Tamil speaking part of the country, and I speak Tamil, I just casually started a conversation with a local while waiting for the bus. In no time, we ended up talking to so many people and even got an invite to come home for lunch.

Hatton to Adam’s Peak

There are frequent buses from Hatton to Nallathanniya. If you have hard time pronouncing Nallathanniya, just ask the locals for a bus to Adam’s peak or Sri Pada. They will point you the correct bus.

Another option is to take a tuk-tuk from Hatton to Nallathanniya.

Colombo to Adam’s Peak

There are a few options to get to Adam’s Peak from Colombo.

Train from Colombo to Adam’s Peak: 

Train from Colombo to Adam’s Peak is my recommended way to get to Adam’s Peak.

Either from the Airport or from your hotel in Colombo, take a tuk-tuk or taxi to Colombo Fort train station.

As of right now, there is no online reservation. It is recommended that you get the ticket ahead of time for a first class or second class A/C coach. But if you don’t have time to get there ahead of time, just stop by and take whatever seat is available. It’s basically a 4 to 5 hour train ride to Hatton.

Second class coach is really nice and clean and good enough even for families with children to travel. All windows are open in 2nd class coaches. So, you don’t have to worry about feeling hot in the train.

The train ride during the day time is really worth taking as you get to see the country side, it’s pretty scenic.

If you are ambitious and running short on time, take the 8PM train from Colombo that reaches Hatton at 2AM. And take a tuk-tuk directly to Moutain foot steps and start climbing for sunrise. I don’t recommend this. But, I met someone who did this.

Private Taxi or Tuk-tuk:

Private Taxis are fairly expensive. Certainly convenient if you want to stop as you wish.

Tuk-tuk is another option, but I wouldn’t want to take tuk-tuk for such a long distance through hilly areas.

Public Bus from Colombo to Adam’s Peak:

You can take direct buses from Colombo to Hatton.

Negombo to Adam’s Peak

Only extra step here is to take a bus or a train from Negombo to Colombo. Rest of the itinerary follows as mentioned above in the Colombo to Adam’s Peak section.

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Ella to Adam’s Peak

Another great train ride to take in Sri Lanka. There are direct trains from Ella to Hatton that runs 3 times a day. And rated scenic as they wind through the mountains.

Bus is also an option. But, train ride is really pleasant.

If you are taking bus from Ella to Adam’s peak, you would have to go via Nuwara Eliya. It’s absolutely worth spending a day or two in Nuwara Eliya if you can afford it.

Kandy to Adam’s Peak

Another great train ride from Kandy to Hatton and then a bus or tuk-tuk to Nallathanniya. As you have noticed by now, train ride is the my favorite in Sri Lanka and I highly recommend it for all possible routes. You will not be disappointed at all.

Mirissa to Adam’s Peak

It might be worth renting a car for this ride. USually costs around $100 to $150 range for the entire 6.5 hour ride. Since it’s a long ride, car is better if you are carrying luggage around.

But, for the backpackers, bus rides, a few of them are not a bad option either. You might have to break it down though. Give yourself the whole day anywhere from 6.5 to 9 hours from Mirissa to Adam’s Peak.

Here is an example of a bus route:

Mirrisa to Panadura to Avissawella to Hatton to Nallathanniya

The buses from Hatton to Nallathanniya go around two gorgeous reservoirs to reach Sri pada mountain aka Adam’s peak. Keep your camera ready.

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Where to Stay Near Adam’s Peak ?

It is entirely possible to reach Nallathanniya and then find a place to stay. But, be ready to haggle. Or book ahead of time, to avoid hassle. I just booked a hotel room the day before. Here are some of the best place to stay near Adams Peak.

Budget Friendly accommodations near Adam’s Peak: Under $20 a night as of 2019

  • Rashmika Home Stay – The guesthouse is bit further down from the Adam’s peak trailhead. But owner offers a free transport to Dalhousie bus stop to pick you up and drop you off.
  • Daffodils Inn – Another great homestay just 10-minutes walk from Trailhead.
  • Vegetable Garden – Known for their serene setup among the garden fields from where they harvest vegetables to feed the guests.
  • DAM HOUSE (Near Adams Peak) – Known for their glass door balcony view of the mountain ranges this places runs prices someones in single digits. Check it out for your dates to see if you can get a deal. However, it’s a bit farther away from Adam’s peak though.

Mid-range hotels near Adam’s Peak: $21 to $40

  • Hugging Clouds Located just 300 meteres away from the entrance to Adam’s peak
  • Queensark – Another budget hotel located at the foot steps Adam’s Peak
  • Tea Breeze Motel – 0.3 miles from the trailhead.

These are some hand-picked recommendations for stays based on research and word of mouth.

We reached Nallathanniya around 5PM in the evening and checked in at the room, eat and slept. Basically there isn’t much to do here.

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Do You Need a Guide for Adams Peak ?

No, you don’t need a guide to do Adam’s Peak hike. While we were hiking Adam’s Peak, there was a family with two children hiking along with us. This family did have a guide that was arranged by their hotel staff. Basically the guide carried one of the kids on his shoulder all the way to the top. Unless, you need such special help there is no need to hire guide.

How much is Adam’s Peak Entrance Fee ?

$0.00. There was a talk about potentially introducing entrance fee to foreigners to do Adam’s Peak hiking. But, as of 2019 there is no fee and it’s absolutely free.

Is It Worth Climbing Adam’s Peak ?

You might be wondering if it’s worth climbing Adam’s peak for how long it takes to get to this small town just for the sake of climbing the sacred mountain. My answer is a big YES. It’s absolutely worth climbing Adam’s peak for several reasons:

  • A great workout and a sense of accomplishment
  • One of the best sunrise views in Sri Lanka
  • Gorgeous scenery around the valley
  • A chance to meet other travelers and backpackers

Is Adam’s Peak Hard to Climb ?

It’s stairs all the way to the top. A moderate fitness level is recommended to attempt. I don’t think you need to be super fit to do Adam’s Peak climb. Don’t get me wrong. It’s not an easy hike. But doable if you give yourself enough time to take plenty of breaks and walk slowly.

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Is Adam’s Peak Dangerous ?

As long as you stick to the suggested trail and stairs, it’s one of the safest places to be in Sri Lanka. There will always be lot of fellow hikers along the way and you will not run into mugging issues. We started the hike at 2:30AM and we were not the first ones to start the hike by any means.

Best Time to Climb Adams Peak

Early morning for sunrise. It takes a good 3 hours for a slow hiker myself. So, we started the hike at 2:30AM. If you are very fit and can hike up much faster, you can start a bit later in the morning and get there before others do.

What is the Adam’s Peak Climbing Season ?

Adam’s Peak pilgrimage season starts on the full moon day of December known as Unduvap Full Moon Poya Day and goes on till the full moon day of May known as Vesak Full Moon Poya Day. This is also the time when the weather is at it’s pleasant to climb. Image a peak summer month is Sri Lanka that too hiking through a mountain with no shades. It’s not impossible. You just need to be really prepared for the heat.

Can You Climb Adams Peak in June, July August, September, October or November ?

During these months, only day time hikes are allowed. Generally speaking during the climbing season that runs from December to May, almost everyone hikes Adams Peak for the sunrise and they start the hike at 2AM-ish. During the season, the entire path is lit up for pilgrims and tourists to hike. However, during these off season months, there won’t be any lights.

And legally also not allowed to hike at night for safety reasons.

Plus these are the rainy months. Weather is unpredictable and views can be cloudy. You can still hike after sunrise, however. You might need to get a permit at a local police office for day climb.

Adams Peak Weather

Adam’s Peak Map


This photo of Adam’s Peak (Sri pada) is courtesy of TripAdvisor

How Many Hours to Climb Adams Peak ?

I am slow walker / hiker. It took me exactly 3 hours to reach the top of Adam’s peak. Right in time for the famous Adam’s Peak sunrise. And I am even slower on the downhills. It took me 2.5 hours of grueling downhill.

How Many km is Adams Peak ?

It’s approximately 5km one way from the bottom of the mountain to the peak. It certainly felt longer than 5KM while hiking though.

How Many Steps is Adams Peak or Sri Padaya?

There are approximately 5,500 steps covering nearly 5KM to reach the top.

Where to Eat at Adams Peak ?

While hiking early in the morning, there are lot of coffee / tea / snacks / breakfast shops along the way on the trail that open as the light breaks in. You will not have any shortage for food and drinks on the trail. I did enjoy a cup of coffee or two along the way.

Restrooms at Adams Peak ?

They do have paid rest rooms along the way that you can use. Really nothing to worry about.

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What to Wear to Climb Adams Peak ?

This mountain is revered as sacred by locals. So, I highly recommend moderate clothing just like anywhere else in Sri Lanka. As we are talking about hiking, here are some of the clothes I usually wear in any moderate dressing setup and on hikes that work really well.

I am writing this list from a women’s perspective. Men, please use the same moderation in dressing as well. However, nobody is going to pick on a guy walking up shirtless because he is sweating a lot and feels too hot to wear shirt.

It does get really windy and cold at the top while waiting for the sun to raise. So, you need layers.

Columbia Women’s Saturday Trail Pant, Water and Stain Resistant

Animal Den Ladies Long Sleeve Moisture Wicking Athletic Shirts Sizes XS-4XL

Merrell Women’s Siren Edge Hiker

Charles River Apparel Women’s New Englander Waterproof Rain Jacket

Sri Padaya or Adam’s Peak Hiking Routes

Nallathanniya is the most popular starting point for Adam’s Peak hike. However, you can also attempt Adam’s Peak trekking from Ratnapura side. Ratnapura side takes twice as much time or even more. It’s not for the faint heart.

Ratnapura Palabathgala to Adams Peak

From Ratnapura, you have to reach the trail head at Siripagama. From here, the total trail length is 8.5KM with a good 2000 ft elevation gain. The entire round trip will take a good 8 to 10 hours.

Similar to Nallathanni side, on Ratnapura side also offers amenities such as small shops that sell food and water during the climbing season.

Most people also break down the journey by starting at Siripagama in the evening and staying overnight at Heramitipana. Start early morning sunrise summit from Heramitipana to the peak.

And hike back to Siripagama on the same day.

What to do Near Adams Peak ?

Kitulgala water rafting

If you are looking for some more adventure around Adam’s Peak area, a couple of hours away from Adam’s peak is the Kitulgala water rafting and jungle tracking.

Laxapana Falls

An hour away from Adam’s Peak and on the way to Kitulgala water rafting is the Laxapana Falls. I personally wouldn’t make an effort to go there just to see this waterfall. But, if this is on your route or just a small detour from wherever you are headed next, certainly worth stopping by.

Aberdeen Water Falls

Further north from Laxapana Falls and again on the way to Kitulgala is Aberdeen water falls. Do stop by if it’s on the way.

 Where to go After Adam’s peak ?

On the choices are unlimited. How about one of these options ?

What to Pack for Adams peak ?

Besides the clothes mentioned in the what to wear for Adam’s peak climb, I highly recommend the following in your packing:

A water bottle with built in filtering. This is useful for traveling in general to avoid any water related sickness.

LifeStraw Go Water Filter Bottle with 2-Stage Integrated Filter Straw for Hiking, Backpacking, and Travel, Blue

Another great product is the foldable / collapsable day pack that packs into the size of your palm and expands to a full size as needed. These are very useful for backpacking trips and multi-day hikes.

Outlander Ultra Lightweight Packable Water Resistant Travel Hiking Backpack Daypack Handy Foldable Camping Outdoor Backpack

Don’t forget to pack your camera or cellphone to capture sunrise pictures.

To learn about other hikes in the country, check out Trekking in Sri Lanka.

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climbing Adam's peak