15 Top tips if you’re planning on tackling Adam’s Peak

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The spiritually significant Adam’s Peak, (aka Sri Pada – a pilgrim site for Muslims, Buddhists, Christians and Hindus) may be a bit of a slog to get to, but our minibus journey from Negombo through the astoundingly beautiful Highlands and tea plantations more than made up for it.

As we moved from coast to countryside, merging from palms to plantations, a landscape begins to emerge that surprises and astounds with each hairpin bend on a luscious mountainside with a beauty it’s hard to describe.

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When we arrived in the pitch black at the family run Grand Adam’s Peak Hotel after what seemed like a death defying drive, we had just 3 hours to grab some shut eye before scaling Sri Lanka’s fifth tallest but most visited mountain.

It was luck rather than by design which meant we had a fairly hassle free slog up the 2,200m peak, which we thought it’d be only right to share if you ever attempt the spectacular ascent yourself. But be warned; it will hurt! Imagine four hours on a step machine at the gym and you’re getting there.

  1. Start early –  we left at 1:00am which allowed for plenty of much needed breaks and time to find a vantage point before sunrise.

  2. During Poya (pilgrimage holidays) choose a low day – weekends are busiest with thousands of pilgrims, but we encountered mainly tourists and it was rarely busy on the ascent.

  3. Make friends with your fellow climbers – you will see them frequently on the climb – we all very much enjoyed a very attractive German PE teacher named Julian!

  4. Don’t be concerned too much about your footwear – trainers were fine, it’s mostly concrete steps.

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    The two of us delirious on our descent!
  5. Make use of the handrails – your calves will thank you!

  6. Buy water on the way up as and when you need it so it doesn’t weigh you down.

  7. There are no food and drink facilities at the top on the holy site – so the ‘last tea shop’ 100m from the summit really is it if you need one last warming cuppa.

  8. Take toilet roll – enough said.

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  9. The guidebooks aren’t wrong when they say it’s cold at the top – but you easily work up a sweat in what can be best described as the step class from hell, so take plenty of layers! We were a group of 10 so huddled together for warmth in what became known as ‘the wedge’, but if you don’t have those numbers on your side take a blanket.

  10. Make sure you ring the bell at the top – but only as many times as you have climbed the peak.

  11. The summit isn’t spacious – it’s basically a few rows of concrete steps, so stake out a spot at the front early on – as soon as any sliver of daylight appears there’s a rush and if you’re not paying attention your hard climb won’t be worth it!

  12. Make time to take photos on the way down – the views get better and better, but don’t stop for tea unless you have to- the longer you take the hotter it gets.

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  13. Watch your step – we saved an Australian man from near certain death when he took a tumble but we caught him before he went completely arse over tit.

  14. You will ache for a few days afterward, even if you do stretch well. The ten of us all have had several massages and we’re still not quite back to normal.

  15. Reward yourself with at least an Ice lolly when you’re back on level ground – it will be the best you’ve ever tasted.

    adams-lolly

Above all, Adam’s Peak is jaw droppingly beautiful, uncompromising if you don’t give it some proper planning, but unmissable on a trip to Sri Lanka.

Thousands of tourists and Sri Lankan pilgrims walked together, through the night, hearts pumping as the gradient increased towards the summit, in time to get a spot for the legendary sunrise.

The mood was always friendly, and the locals never seemed unhappy to share their spiritual moment with us. The sunrise itself was as breathtaking as expected.

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The 10 of us exhausted around half the way down our 2200m climb

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