Adam’s Peak is a 7360 foot, conical mountain situated in the southern parts of the central highlands in Sri Lanka. Being the 4th highest mountain in the country, it is famously known as the pilgrimage site Sri Pada (which translates to Sacred Foot) for devotees of Buddhism, Hindu, Islamic and Christian faiths. Typically, pilgrimage takes place from December to May, during the dry season. Adam’s Peak lies in the ‘Peak Wilderness Protected Area’ which spread across two provinces (Sabaragamuwa and Central) and is a part of the Samanala mountain range. This vast area is home to an extraordinary range of flora and fauna and is abundant with breathtaking sceneries. It is said that among the many attractions of the trail, the most desired is at the peak itself, the spectacle known as ‘The Dance of the Rising Sun’.
Adam’s Peak has been summit by pilgrims as well as hikers for centuries, during which six access trails to the peak has been discovered thus far. The following will give a snapshot into each trail, and will be followed by a first hand detailed report in the distant future.
1. The Hatton – Nallathanni Trail to Adam’s Peak
This is the most famous and commercialized trail among the six, hence the most crowded and polluted during the pilgrimage season. The trail starts from Delhouse Bridge, Nallathanni, 140km away from Colombo, and can be reached by both public and private transportation modes. It is well paved with cement steps for most of the parts, while steep locations are aided with handrails. During the season the trail is well lit in the nighttime. This route is abundant with vendors offering cooked/dry foods and drinks with the occasional washroom and resting area.
2. The Ratnapura – Palabaddala Trail to Adam’s Peak
This well paved trail is the longest route to the summit accommodated by cement steps and handrails from beginning to the end. The trail starts from Siripagama, a town 93km away from Colombo, which can be reached reached by both public and private transportation modes. Although the trail lies through the thick rainforest of the Peak Wilderness, resting areas and small boutiques can be found along the way.
3. The Kuruwita – Erathna Trail to Adam’s Peak
This is the third most popular trail to the summit. When compared with first two trails, the Kuruwita-Erathna trail is recognised as difficult. The trail begins at Adevikanda, an area in a town called Erathna, approximately 86km away from Colombo. The trail is accessible from both public and private transportation modes. The environment along the trail is most similar to Palabaddala trail with thick rainforest, where concrete steps and paved paths are found occasionally. This trail meets the Ratnapura-Palabaddala trail at Galwangediya, 2km from the summit.
4. The Rajamale – Moray Estate Trail to Adam’s Peak
This trail is shortest route to the Sri Paada summit. It starts from the Moray Estate overlooking the beautiful Maussakele reservoir, near the town of Nallathanni. This trail meets the Hatton-Nallathanniya trail at the entrance to Mahagiri Dambe, an area of the route which is identified to be the steepest. Apart from the Mahagiri Damba, the trail is a ‘walk in the park’ through the peak wildness, where the footpath is clearly visible. Well paved paths and boutique shops are non-existent along this trail, until it meets the Hatton-Nallathanniya trail.
5. The Daraniyagala – Udamaliboda Trail to Adam’s Peak
This beautiful trail is a bit tricky as there are few rivers to cross along the way. It starts from Udamaliboda, an area near the town Deraniyagala, which lies 66km from Colombo. The trail does not contain any paved paths or concrete steps and as for directions one has to depend on the arrow markings made by the villagers. This trail meets the Kuruwita – Erathna Trail halfway through, where a few boutique shops and resting areas are available afterwards.
6. The Dehenakanda – Mukku Watta Trail to Adam’s Peak
This trail is known to be the toughest and less travelled among the six routes to Adam’s Peak. It’s a hike through a complete wilderness where no shops or resting places are available till it reaches the Mahagiri Dambe on the Ratnapura – Palabaddala Trail. The accent will take more than twelve hours and sometimes night travel can be hazardous. Hikers on this trail usually prefer to camp opposite Bathalu Oya, which is reachable 8 – 10 hours into the journey.