When planning our hike up the highest peak in Sri Lanka, a few people suggested us going to Hatton first and making preparations to climb Adam’s Peak from there… however, after Yas spoke to her friend who had recently completed the hike himself, he suggested that we stay closer to the mountain to enjoy the experience, stress-free!
We stayed at Guesthouse White House, based in Nallathanniya, where you can see Adam’s Peak from the restaurant which is adjoining to the hotel.
The three of us shared a room with our new American friend Will which collectively cost 9325R/£43/$60 for 2 nights. This is possibly the most expensive accommodation we’ve stayed in so far in Sri Lanka, but we could do the trek directly from our hotel which is priceless! Also if you book through this link, you’ll get back £15 once you’ve finished your stay which definitely makes it more affordable! 👍
If you stay in Hatton, you’ll have to travel over to Nallathanniya which takes a couple of hours via public transport (costing 110R/50p/70c) and venture up Adam’s Peak around midnight. Obviously it would be quicker if you take a cab or Tuk Tuk to the entrance, but you are then looking at splitting the cost of 2000R/£9.30/$12.90, which to me feels like a rip off compared to the bus✖️.
Also, the hike takes around two and a half hours to get to the temple at the top, if you take regular short breaks. I know people that have completed it in two, and also, people who have really taken their time stopping off at the many tea houses that scatter the trail. Regardless, if you venture up at midnight, you’re likely to be shattered, waiting for the sun to rise for about four hours in the blistering cold.
If you stay in the picturesque village that is Nallathanniya (where you’re surrounded by mountains and lakes as opposed to the dirt and grime of hectic Hatton) you can head to bed early and try and catch some winks before you venture out. Then you needn’t leave until 2am to get up there for 4.30ish and you only need to wait for an hour before you begin to see the first signs of sunrise. I’d recommend warm clothes for the top; a hat, scarf and gloves if they’re not too much to carry and if you really feel the cold, take a blanket! I managed with a hoody, jacket, leggings, socks and gloves though👀. I was a little jealous of the blanket-owners but not enough to have carried one up the 5550 steps that make Adam’s Peak!
Whatever option you choose, make sure you wait until sunrise as it’s nothing short of spectacular – one of the best I’ve seen actually.
When you walk the hike, you’re surrounded by darkness other than the few lights that guide you to the top… but as soon as the world begins to wake up, you’re enveloped between overlapping mountains and a giant lake, all lit up under a firey sky! It really is gorgeous and such a treat as it feels like a different hike on the way down.
On the way up, you’ll come across many locals, of all ages and fitness levels, some even carrying children as they head up for prayer -so do be respectful and don’t attempt to speed past those who are struggling (as it isn’t the easiest hike, trust me). Instead appreciate what an admirable job they are doing for their beliefs! Adam’s Peak is fundamentally a religious site where worshippers can see the footprint of Buddha (or Adam if you are a Christian) and it is a pilgrimage site, hence why you have to really work hard to get to the top! And work we did – we really slowed down towards the end and our legs felt like jelly when we found our spot to watch the sun rise…
…but coming down was a little easier, being able to run down the little steps (as this is a genuinely easier method than going slow), although do be careful of the impact on your knees. Also, a little tip, STRETCH BEFORE YOU HIKE!! It took our poor legs like 3 whole days to recover 🙈.
When we got back, the staff were really sweet, discounting our laundry and breakfast because we booked their hotel for two nights instead of one – as people often choose to stay here to complete the trek and leave. However, I highly recommend that you stay for two nights if you can because there’s nothing nicer than being able to come back to your room, hop in the shower and retreat to bed…
There’s also so much beauty on the doorstep to discover and explore, with rocks leading you across the stream that hosts a small adventure. Check out the waterfalls too; high,mighty & beautiful and just a walk away from the hotel (if your legs aren’t too tired)!
Also, the hotel puts on a Sri-Lankan buffet every single night for just 500R/£2.30/$3.20 which is an all-you-can-eat hearty curry (with enough selection for vegetarians and meat-eaters) and we were so impressed, that we chose to eat here two nights in a row – available from 6-9pm🙌.
Make sure you really fill your boots the night before the trek so you eat yourself into a food coma to fall asleep early and for some extra energy come morning. If you want some snacks, you can venture down to the local village, which is one of the most authentic experiences you’ll have in Sri Lanka. You can befriend young children who are fascinated by you, and if you can, take them some pens and notebooks etc for their schooling – it really goes a long way!
In the local store you can find these items, along with biscuits, chocolate, nuts and even cheese triangles for the hike 👀🤣. But don’t worry too much about preparing snacks, as the trail is scattered with stands selling bottles of water, hot food, fruit and snacks – but note that you will have to haggle more to get them at a standard price!
What I really liked is that I’ve left the experience with a souvenir 😊. I was blessed by a monk upon entry who tied a white bracelet to my wrist whilst he chanted me a prayer. You can give a donation in return, which I’d encourage you to do as it is highly appreciated by the community.
For backpackers on a budget, this really is a must-do in Sri Lanka as it’s technically free and you’ll finish feeling accomplished and excited to eat HOWEVER MUCH CURRY YOU WANT as you’ve burnt a fu*% ton of calories! 🤙
Good luck & enjoy!