Dalhousie, Sri Lanka
The best town to stay in to hike Adam’s Peak is in Dalhousie.
When I first starting looking into going to Adam’s Peak though I actually thought I wasn’t going to be able to afford it as the initial prices I saw for hotels there were way out of my budget with lots booked up months in advance.
I, eventually, managed to find reasonably affordable accommodation through Hostel World in the end and booked in advance since it didn’t seem like a good idea to arrive with nothing booked given how many places were already fully booked.
A group of four others I met on the journey there, and who I did the hike with, hadn’t booked anywhere in advance and found accommodation easily enough (a big room for them all to share) which worked out to be much cheaper but by the sounds of things was VERY basic.
There weren’t even any plug sockets which might not be so helpful if you’re relying on your phone alarm to wake you up for the trek and haven’t paid attention to my travel packing advice ?.
Climbing Adam’s Peak
What Time to Start Hiking Adam’s Peak from Dalhousie
We started the trek at about 3am and made it in good time for the sunrise. In fact we were probably a little bit too early as before the sun rises it gets really cold at the top of the mountain and we had a 45 minute wait.
But I’d read so many accounts from people saying that if you left later you’d get stuck queueing to reach the top of the peak and therefore may not make it for sunset.
I wasn’t about to risk that.
If it had been left up to me I would have got our group to set up from the town of Dalhousie at 12am, based on the accounts I’d read.
If I’m going to climb 5,500 stairs in the middle of the night to see the sunrise I most definitely want to make it in time to see the fucking sunrise!
But leaving at 12am would have been far too early.
Starting at 3am was ample time and I was there in March, right in peak season.
I’d recommend you do the same.
What Hiking Adam’s Peak is like
I do feel it’s only fair to warn you here that the trek is really hard. After having climbed Little Adam’s Peak and even having run half of that to get up in time for the sunset, I was not expecting the full Adam’s Peak to be so difficult. I figured it would be about double the size of Little Adam’s Peak.
There are 5,500 steps to get to the top of Adam’s Peak.
I almost gave up so many times.
In fact I probably would have given up if it wasn’t for the elderly local women bounding back down the other direction like it was a total breeze. If an 80-year-old could do it and make it look that easy I sure as hell wasn’t giving up but it was HARD.
Every corner you turn there are just more stairs.
Essential Tips for Climbing Adam’s Peak
Since you do want to leave Dalhousie a bit earlier than needed to get to the top of Adam’s Peak in case there are queues to get to the peak it is advisable to :
- Take a flash light – even just walking from my accommodation into the center of Dalhousie required a flashlight let alone then going up all the uneven stairs in the dark. As you can see from the photos above, some of the pathways/stairs are lit, but not all of them and not always very well. Best to take a flash light just to make sure you don’t trip over anything.
- Wear warm clothes – it will be really cold when you leave for the trek as it’s the middle of the night. Now obviously as you climb the never ending stairs you’ll shed lawyers as you start sweating balls but you’ll want the warm clothes for the start and also for once you reach the top. Since you may reach the peak as much as an hour before the sun comes, it will be really cold once you stop moving and sit and wait. Make sure you wrap up warm. Bring a hat if you have one.
- Bring a small backpack – It’s advisable to bring a small backpack for the hike so that as you shed your layers of clothing on the way up you have somewhere to put them and be able to keep your hands free still to grab the railings when needed. It also gives you space to then carry some water with you which will be much more expensive to buy from the stalls on the way up.
What To Expect at The Top of Adam’s Peak
The view from the top of Adam’s Peak is spectacular ? and I’m glad I pushed through the pain of the climb.
I did actually finf the top of Little Adam’s Peak more beautiful though as that was just a mountain top and there were less people whereas at the top of Adam’s Peak it’s mostly concrete and has barbed wire blocking parts of the view as well as hundreds of people.
A Word of Warning Climbing Down Adam’s Peak
As I was walking up about the only reassuring thought I had was, at least it will be easy on the way down. But on the way down your legs are so sore from the climb up that it’s almost just as hard.
Where to Stay in Dalhousie
Blue Sky Guest House is where I stayed. It’s not the nicest place I’ve ever been but it was for one night and I slept a sum total of about 2 hours in the room given the early start so it’s good enough for what you need there.
How Long to Stay in Dalhousie for Adam’s Peak
To climb Adam’s Peak you only need to arrive the evening before you would like to do the climb. You’ll then start the climb really early morning for sunrise and be back down as the day is still just getting started. The surrounding area is beautiful but most people just stay the one night in Dalhousie moving straight onto their next destinations after the trek.
Moving On: How to Get From Adam’s Peak Dalhousie to Colombo
To get back to Colombo just get a bus back to Hatton and then trains go straight to Colombo from there. The train journey takes about five and a half hours. Whilst the view isn’t as good as on the train to Hatton from Ella it’s still not too shabby.
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