5200 stairs, within Buddha and Marco Polo ‘s steps (Adam’s Peak pilgrimage)

2.40 am.  “Hey, good morning. It’s time to go.” It’s one of these mornings when you know snoozing is not option and when you just get up even if you just got a few hours of sleep. Like when you have to take an early plane or are going on vacation and the excitement awakes 2 min before the alarm rang.

Water, check. biscuits and fruits, check. Flash light, check. Sarong to be used as a scarf – apparently it can get pretty cold in Sri Lanka, check. Let’s go.

Outside it’s pitch dark.

Climbing stairs in the night

It’s pilgrimage season so the trail is illuminated which lights that make our progression easier. Even if a few tea houses and snacks falls are open, it feels pretty lonely. We know that pilgrims started earlier, when we went to buy biscuits around 10.00pm yesterday you met a few groups of locals who started their ascension. You don’t talk. you are too sleepy and for now, you just want to progress.

At the japanese temple, located at the bottom of Adam’s Peak , it begins to feel more like a pilgrimage than a usual climb. You are welcomed by a monk, give a donation to the temple and get his benediction on your walk, with a white string bracelet that he ties around your wrist. It begins to feel special, and you have just walked a bit more than 2kms.

As the trail starts to get steeper, you begin to catch up with more people. Lots of pilgrims, small groups and families, some of them going barefoot. You just stop shortly for a couple of breaks, for a fruit or cereal bar, as the climb begins to be demanding for your body.

As the night gets less dark and you can feel dawn coming, you begin to worry and try to increase our pace but  lots of pilgrims slow down the way. You have to be respectful, but what a shame it will be to miss the sunrise from the top!

The last part of the climb seems interminable, the path intensified even more, forming just an endless ribbon of steps. You hold the rail to keep going. The songs of pilgrims give you the strength to continue and to keep the pace, even if your legs start to burn.

Suddenly, when you almost got used to the idea that you will not make it on time, you are there. A crowd of shoes – and people – welcome you at the entrance of the temple. People on the stairs, watching east side, to check when the sun will make its apparition.  Young, and old, kids, parents and grands parents, locals and a few tourists, all made it to the top. As you find your way between them, you just can’t stop smiling, the sense of accomplishment is immense.

The reward at the top of Adam’s Peak

“Wooooh” gaps the crowd as a single man when the sun appears behind the clouds provoking an urge to immortalize this magic moment.  The 360 degrees view on the hill country, the contrast of the sunrise with orange ray of lights and dark blue sky, the holy atmosphere, the communion with the pilgrims, combined with your efforts will probably overwhelmed you. Rewarding your 3h climb with an elevation of +1000m in 5km, this moment remains for lots of visitors the highlight of their trip in Sri Lanka.

A few minutes later, the rising sun projects the sacred mountain ‘s shadow over the hill country. Ice on the cake.

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What makes some trips unforgettable?

You will come to climb the demanding Sri Pada (also called Adam’s Peak) trail, at the end, it’s the emotion of the accomplishment, the spirituality of the journey and the beauty of the view that you will bring back home.

Want to do it on your own? Read the next post for tips about Adam’s Peak pilgrimage.

Check other posts related to Sri Lanka.