Sri Pada - The Sacred Adam’s Peak - All You Need to Know About the Pilgrimage
Sri Pada - The Sacred Adam’s Peak - All You Need to Know About the Pilgrimage

Sri Pada - The Sacred Adam’s Peak - All You Need to Know About the Pilgrimage

Sri Lanka
Sri Lanka

When Is the Best Time

You can climb to the top of this sacred mountain throughout the year. However, the pilgrimage takes place from the full moon in December to the full moon in April. Climbing the mountain and leaving a donation at the top is a very important worship for Sri Lankan Buddhists.

View from the bottom up to the steep ascent with thousands of steps
The never-ending staircases lead through a lush rain forest.

Regarding the weather, it's the driest time, not the monsoon season. The pilgrims walk the paved and steep trail at night to be at the top for the sunrise. You may see pilgrims of all ages, young and elderly 80 years plus, do the strenuous walk. The descent with all these steps is way worse.

The view down to the lush vegetation
You definitely can't miss the path.

Of course, it is a unique experience, and the view from Adams Peak is spectacular but keep in mind it is a strenuous pilgrimage path with more than 5000 steps. There are loudspeakers along the trail switched on in the late afternoon, and it can be heavily crowded at night.

Plenty of pilgrims on our way back.
Busier during our descent in the evening.

The sunrise and sunset are spectacular if it's not overcast or misty. However, this is a significant pilgrimage, and you may get stuck in or queue, and you can't get to the top of Srí Pada and have to return. Why? The visitor numbers are not restricted, depending on the number of pilgrims and tourists, it can happen that you do not get access to the temple of the mountain.

The entrance to the Adams Peak Trail
The entrance gate to the sacred mountain.

We got the recommendation to hike during the day and back in the evening. Therefore, we got an idea of the pilgrimage in the evening, and we were able to visit the temple of Adams Peak.

The trail is separated at higher elevations
Because of the long queues, the staircase is separated for the ascent and descent.

We did not feel that we had missed anything, on the contrary, we enjoyed the hike during the daylight hours very much. The vocals from the speakers were peculiar. This is just my personal opinion.

My Tips for Adams Peak

A hiker almost at the top wearing several layers of clothes
It is colder, 2000 m above sea level.
  • Check the weather forecast before travelling to Adam's Peak. Rain and haze can spoil your experience! 
  • Adams Peak is 2.243 m high therefore bring a jacket for the evening/night, especially if it is windy.
  • Carry a pair of socks in your backpack. You must take off your shoes to access the sacred temple on top.

3 Different Trails to Adams Peak

A female hiker in summer clothes
Me at the beginning of the path.

There are three routes to the summit of Adam's Peak of different trail lengths and difficulties.

  1. Nallathanniya in the east at the huge lake - a 9 km return hike - 3 h ascent and 2 h descent for 980 m elevation gain. Hiking Map by Locus Map App
  2. Palapaddala in the west - 15 km return hike - 7 h ascent and 5 h descent for 1,817m elevation gain Hiking Map App by Locus Map App
  3. Erathna in the west - 22 km return hike - 7 h for the ascent and 5 h descent for 1.955 m elevation gain Hiking Map App by Locus Map App

You can imagine which trail we chose, the shortest from Nallathanniya.

A monkey in the tree
Monkeys grab your food and bag if you are not careful.

It's a 4-6 hours return hike depending on your fitness level. If you start in the afternoon, you are much faster and get access to the sacred area, and you are able to see Buddah's left foot.

Food and trash stall along the pilgrimage
One of the many stalls along the ascent.

This mountain is a sacred place, utterly crowded, weekends and full moon are even worse. There are toilets along the way, however, it is a dirt path with trash. It is a knee-sacrificing hike of more than 5000 steps.

The path up to Adams Peak is lightened at night.

What you do not need is a torch, there are bright lights along the path which you see in the night from a distance. 

Men carry sacks full of coins
A policeman escorts the men with coin pouches.

On the way up, we saw several guys carrying coins in huge bags down, the pilgrims' donations.

Is it Worth Climbing Adams Peak?

A temple and plenty of Buddhist flags along the track.
It definitely looks impressive.

The utterly loud prayer and advertising vocals coming from the loudspeakers were particularly annoying. It's a commercialized walk with stalls selling overpriced food. The village itself wasn't noteworthy like our accommodation. There isn't anything else around. We should have given it a miss. Of course, it is a must for pilgrims, but we were relieved of being back. We think it was wasting time, and we can't recommend climbing up. Other sacred places in Sri Lanka were way more fascinating for us. This is just our honest opinion!

Weather and Crowds

Thousands of steps leading to the top of Adams Peak
The brutal steep ascent.

January - April

These are the driest months, however, showers can occur. It's also the busiest time to climb Sri Pada. You may not even reach the top due to the many pilgrims. Nights on the mountain are cold throughout the year. Expect one-digit temperatures from January to March. Day temps are almost around 20°C. The path up to the top is less busy during the day. However, you definitely break a sweat because of the high humidity and the intense sun in the daytime. 

Weekends and the full moon night, the night of Poya, are the most crowded days during the pilgrimage.

May - December

These are the wettest months. Monsoons are likely to occur from May to August. From May to November, you don't experience any crowds. The chance of rain is much higher, but it can also be nice. The temple is not open on the top of Adam's Peak in the monsoon season. The trail is pretty slippery during rain, and take precautions against leeches. They are the plague as soon as the soil is wet elsewhere. Bring torches and a headlight because the steps are not lit in the off-season. It gets busy at the full moon in December when the pilgrimage season starts.

 

Best Months to Visit

Jan
Feb
Mar
Apr
May
Jun
Jul
Aug
Sep
Oct
Nov
Dec

Related Topics

Location and Tips

Nuwara Eliya
Sri Lanka
Sri Lanka

Adam's Peak, the place where Adam first set foot on earth, is also known as Sri Pada Mountain. It's a sacred mountain for Buddhists, Muslims, Hindus, and Christians. The Buddhists believe it was left by Buddha, Hindus to Shiva and Muslims to Adam, sounds a bit confusing There is a temple on top of the 2.243 meters-high Adams Peak. Those who want to access has to take off their shoes which is common for all sacred places.

Comments

Markus

Looks like you missed the best. To be at the top at sunrise you should start around 1:30 am. The beautiful scenery and landscape in the morning is rewarding for the thousands of steps you need to climb in the middle of the night. If you choose full moon (night of Poya) the hike itself becomes even better.

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Micha Herber-Bleich
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