Towering above the treetops of the Central Highlands, Sri Lanka’s holiest mountain beckons. Adam’s Peak presents a challenging but enticing climb, starting out in the dead of night in order to reach the summit at sunrise.
Pause to pay homage to the mysterious rock formation of Sri Pada, believed to be Buddha’s footprint, before taking the final few footsteps to the very top. Once there, breathe deep and relax as you enjoy panoramic views over the dawn landscape, and the strange optical illusion of sun shadows appearing over the horizon ahead of the real thing.
Climbing Adam’s Peak is certainly not for everyone, being both tiring and tough, but for many it’s more than worth it. As everyone’s health and fitness circumstances are different, we’d suggest talking to your doctor if you’re concerned about the climb, just to make sure you don’t regret your decision halfway up the mountain at 3am!
As James, our colleague in Colombo, says, ‘There is a saying that vaguely translates to ‘None a fool, more than once a fool’ about climbing Adam’s peak. It’s definitely one of the most memorable hikes I’ve done and the most spectacular sunrise I've seen in my life. And it is certainly not for the faint hearted. I climbed when I was in my early 20s and it wasn’t easy!’
Your ascent starts in the middle of the night, with the aim of completing the 3-4 hour climb to the summit just as the sun rises. In the pilgrimage season (December to May), you’ll be guided through the darkness by a picturesque line of distant, glittering lanterns marking out the trail ahead. This time of year is typically very busy, but it’s great motivation to share the ascent with so many other determined and faithful climbers. After a gruelling 5,500 steps, you’ll reach the temple where the Buddha’s footprint resides, and ring a grand bell to announce your arrival.
If the weather is in your favour (as it often is during climbing season) you might catch a glimpse of the renowned mirage of multiple suns that casts itself ethereally across the landscape, lending the mountain a supernatural air. However, even on cloudier days, the feeling of being at the summit is exhilarating.
Before beginning your descent there’ll be plenty of time to relax, recover and chat with your fellow pilgrims about the night’s adventures as you witness the peaceful beauty of the dawning of a new day. About 8 hours after you left the trailhead you’ll arrive back, more than ready, perhaps, for a restful day (or three) at a luxury boutique hotel.
Combine the island’s top wildlife crowd pleasers with some magnificent hidden gems and cultural highlights before spending some time on the beach.