Sri Lanka: Adam's Peak
Sri Lanka by train
The train ride to Hatton is just breath-taking. After leaving Colombo, we already got a glimpse of what one can expect for the rest of the journey: the train rushed past palm trees and rice fields glowing in the warm morning light. We even saw flying foxes and monkeys along the tracks. The train’s doors never get closed and most windows are open, leaving one with a welcoming breeze even on the hottest days. The morning train turned out to be a good idea, considering we got a seat and we were the only tourists in the wagon, at least until we arrived in Kandy.
From Kandy on, the ride got even more exciting. The tracks passed through lush green jungle, rice paddies, tea plantations and once in a while, through charming little villages.
After five hours, we reached Hatton, where we changed the train for a bus to Nallathanniya. The one-hour bus ride wasn’t any less spectacular than the railway, leading us over serpentine roads along a huge lake and more tea plantations.
Nallathanniya, also called Dalhousie, is a small mountain village on the foot of Adam’s Peak and consists mostly of homestays and souvenir shops. The place wasn’t unknown to Jim, as he had stayed a night there three years before. So, he took me to a homestay’s balcony to enjoy the view and try my first vegetable curry & rice. Needless to say, I was thrilled and little did I know that many more vegan curries were awaiting us in the following weeks.
Climbing up to the summit of Adam’s Peak was the reason why we visited Nallathanniya. The famous walk upstairs is mostly done during the night, around 2 am. The path is lit and little shops are scattered along the way, for those who want or need a cup of tea and a snack. Once at the peak, one can witness a spectacular sunrise – at least those who didn’t give up.
Ascending Adam’s Peak
Our alarm went off at 1:30 am. We got dressed and left the homestay, still sleepy. The first stairs were easy to handle, just before the way got steeper and the steps got higher. With endless steps in front of you, the top of the mountain seems unreachable.
Besides some other panting hikers, it was quite silent. Only some traders began to prepare their stalls for all the exhausted visitors. The more steps we took, the higher our respect for all those hard-working people grew. We decided to take a break and enjoy some hot tea and bananas, well sheltered under one of the tin roofs. We immediately got back some energy.
As it got colder and windier, it also got harder with every step. The summit seemed to be so far away, even after the thousands of steps we already climbed. Our legs were burning, but giving up was not an option. Our strategy changed: we tried not to imagine how many steps would follow. And there it was, the feeling which was described by so many people before: here and now, you are alone with your thoughts, even with so many people around you having the same objective.
Two and a half hours after we started, we left the last stage behind us. It was freezing cold and crowded up there and we were looking for a nice place to wait for the sunrise. The sound of prayers crossed the silence, while exhausted people were sleeping next to the temple. As the sun appeared, the breath-taking landscape was dipped into golden light. At least in this moment, all the strains of the stiff climb were forgotten!
With shivering legs, we made our way back to the village. Walking down all the stairs, we understood that all the effort was just a mental thing. All the old and weak people we saw, climbing up the stairs with hopeful glances, made us realise this. When young men with all sorts of goods came our way (there was someone balancing a fridge on his head!), we really felt weak compared to them!
Traditional breakfast in Nallathanniya
When we finally arrived at our accommodation, a tasty plant-based breakfast awaited us. The day before we pre-ordered a Sri Lankan breakfast, which means different curries. This time it was served with roti and additionnaly, we got some sweet pancakes with coconut sugar, fruits, and black tea.
We then left Nallathanniya exhausted, but happy. This adventure will stay in our minds forever!
The next adventure was already waiting: another three-hour train ride over the most beautiful railway in the world! Where we’ve travelled to and what we experienced there, you will read in our next blogpost.
Sri Lanka Travel Log