Thousands and thousands of acres of tea plantations lined the narrow roads between Hatton and Dalhousie, the starting point for climbing Adams Peak, also known as Sri Pada. Standing 2,243 meters (7,359ft) the sacred mountain is the fourth highest peak on the island of Sri Lanka and the difficult climb is taken on by thousands of visitors every year, both tourists and locals alike. At the summit is the Sri Pada, “sacred footprint”, the reason why so many Sri Lankan people, whether Buddhist, Christian, Hindu or Muslim, summit the peak every year.

Adam's Peak, Sri Lanka

Adam’s Peak, Sri Lanka

For members of each faith, the footprint holds a different meaning. Buddhists believe that the Sri Pada is the left footprint of The Buddha, left behind when he visited Sri Lanka. Both Muslims and Christians are of the same belief, that it is where Adam first stepped foot on Earth when told to leave the Garden of Eden, hence the name, Adam’s Peak. Finally Tamil Hindus believe it to be the footprint of Lord Shiva. While the peak is sacred to all four religions, it is of most importance to Buddhists, many of which will climb the thousands of steps through the night, barefoot to see the incredible sunrise from the summit and pay homage to the Sri Pada.

Hikers descending the steep stairs from the summit of Adam's Peak, Sri Lanka

Hikers descending the steep stairs from the summit of Adam’s Peak, Sri Lanka

This was going to be our tact too and arriving in the late afternoon we planned on getting a few hours sleep before climbing Adams Peak. However, things don’t always go according to plan and as the time ticked by, it seemed to make more sense to stay up than go to sleep, “we’ll only be more tired if we go to sleep now”, we said and so we stayed in our room drinking coffee waiting for the right time to come. As we waited, we heard the start of the rain around 8pm and hoped to any and all of the Gods this mountain was sacred to, that it would stop before we began our climb.

Ganesha, 'the destroyer of obstacles', at the beginning of the trail

Ganesha, ‘the destroyer of obstacles’, at the beginning of the trail

Ten o’clock, it’s raining heavier. Midnight comes and we can hear some other hikers setting off in the rain which seems to be getting lighter. Finally 2a.m rolls around and it’s time for us to get going, it’s damp out and still raining lightly but as it’s our last night in Sri Lanka, it’s very much a now or never situation and so on go the rain jackets and we head for the start of the trail.

Taking a breather on the steps up to the summit of Adam's Peak, Sri Lanka

Taking a breather on the steps up to the summit of Adam’s Peak, Sri Lanka

It’s miserable weather for a hike but the first hour went by pretty quick, we kept our spirits up talking about the last ten weeks we had spent in Sri Lanka, from Christmas in Hikkaduwa to the hill walking in Ella and the amazing experiences we had had in Jaffna and Mannar, all helped us push on, despite the weather. Small lights line the steps all the way to the summit and we thought of how beautiful it must be on a clear night.

One of the many snack shacks along the trail. Adam's Peak, Sri Lanka

One of the many snack shacks along the trail. Adam’s Peak, Sri Lanka

Large pagodas, monasteries and other relics were lit up by big spotlights along the way with candles left lighting outside by pilgrims, re-establishing that this was indeed a spiritual undertaking. With the path becoming much steeper we stopped to catch our breath for a few minutes and grabbed a quick cup of tea at one of the many little snack-shacks which lined the trail and watched as the rain drops dripped slowly from the corner of the tin roof.

Steep stairs on the trail, lined with prayer flags, Adam's Peak, Sri Lanka

Steep stairs on the trail, lined with prayer flags, Adam’s Peak, Sri Lanka

Beginning to feel a little sleep deprived, we were almost glad of how much colder the night air was becoming as we pushed further on up the trail, keeping us wide-awake! Climbing the steps one by one was getting slower, the path was becoming narrower and people were stopping where they pleased to catch their breath causing serious congestion. Strange place for a traffic jam, in the middle of the night, on the side of a mountain in the Sri Lankan countryside, but there you go! Towards the top the steps were close to vertical in parts and yet elderly, barefooted pilgrims persevered despite the wet, the damp and the cold. By this point we were driven by the promises of a breathtaking sunrise at the summit. Every backpacker we had met during our time in Sri Lanka, who had made the journey here, had told us this was one of their highlights but with the bad weather we had had all evening we were really just hoping the clouds would clear in time for sunrise.

Crowd waiting for sunrise at the top of Sri Pada, Sri Lanka

Crowd waiting for sunrise at the top of Sri Pada, Sri Lanka

Close to 3hours of walking and we were on top, along with a whole load of other people who had started that bit earlier than us. Everyone was bundled up in whatever clothes they had, sitting down, waiting for the first break of sunshine over the horizon. At the simple temple on top, people were meditating and praying but with dawn about to break we went looking for somewhere to wait for the sunrise. Luckily for us we found a little concrete ledge looking directly east, how nobody else had spotted it before now was beyond us but we climbed up and sat down, with hats on, extra clothes on and even extra socks on our hands, the camera was out, primed and ready to capture the sunrise of all sunrises.

Pilgrims gather to pray at sunrise at the top of Adam's Peak, Sri Lanka

Pilgrims gather to pray at sunrise at the top of Adam’s Peak, Sri Lanka

A gentle glow began and started seeping across the countryside, throwing shadows this way and that as the dawn started breaking. There was enough light now to get a feeling of where we really were and how far we had climbed during the night and there was a real sense of anticipation amongst all the hikers and pilgrims who had come to watch natures show. It grew brighter and brighter, everyone waited, it grew brighter still and then brighter and all of a sudden…. it was day time! I really hate to disappoint with such a poor ending to this story of ours but you can imagine how disappointed we were sitting on top of a mountain having not slept in over thirty hours, having hiked through the night in the rain, now sitting on a cold concrete ledge and staring across the lush Sri Lankan countryside. Although the views were spectacular, they just didn’t live up to the hype which had been built up around this endeavour but those are the breaks. No sunrise of epic proportions, no life altering moment at the top of this sacred peak but we had made it. We had climbed thousands of steps along with our fellow walkers, we had reached the top and we had seen views that not everyone gets to see, it wasn’t all bad just not as mind-blowing as we had hoped! It was our last night in Sri Lanka, we would descend the steep path and catch a six hour bus to Colombo, another hour long bus to the airport and then it was onto Singapore after almost a year spent between Nepal, India and now Sri Lanka, it was time for change and we were ready for it.

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Brian Barry
Brian is a travel writer, photographer, blogger, travel addict and adventure junkie. Being outdoors, getting off the beaten track and outside his comfort zone is what makes him tick. Brian's the dreamer in the relationship; when he's not travelling, he's dreaming about it! Keeping fit, cooking, music and red wine take up the rest of his time.
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wanderingon37.6K followers☘ Irish Travel Couple - Brian & Noelle 🌍 Nomadic for 10+ years 🏞️ Hiking, Adventure & Inspiration ✈ Independent Travel 📍Edinburgh 👇🏻Travel Tips & Blog
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\"No one is born hating another person because of the colour of his skin, or his background, or his religion. People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite.\"⁠ — Nelson Mandela⁠ ⁠ \"Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.\"⁠ — Martin Luther King Jr.⁠ ⁠ “Never look down on anybody unless you\'re helping him up.”⁠ — Jesse Jackson⁠ ⁠➳⁠ 📷 Views from the first floor of the Hagia Sophia Museum looking towards The Blue Mosque in Istanbul, Turkey 🇹🇷⁠ ➳⁠ We understand that being white and therefore, inherently privileged, we can never truly understand this struggle, however, we completely stand with the movement and the idea that all human beings everywhere in the world should be treated equally and have the same chances and opportunities in life.⁠ ⁠➳ Unfortunately, this isn\'t the case and the thought that someone can be treated differently simply because of the colour of their skin absolutely breaks our hearts.💔⁠ ⁠➳ In our privileged position, we need to learn about and educate ourselves about these issues in every way we can and do our best to change the views of those around us.⁠ ⁠➳ To quote another great changemaker, Mahatma Gandhi, you need to “be the change that you wish to see in the world.” ⁠ It starts with you, to move in the world with love and respect for all.⁠ ❤️✨✌ #BlackLivesMatter⁠
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“Because when you stop and look around, this life is pretty amazing.” —Dr. Seuss » Brian standing in absolute awe at the El Castillo pyramid at Chichen Itza!🗿🇲🇽 » Built by the Mayans sometime between the 8th and 12th centuries, Chichen Itza is a huge complex of Mayan ruins located on the northern half of Mexico’s beautiful Yucatan Peninsula.🗿🇲🇽 The complex is an inscribed UNESCO World Heritage Site as well as one of the New Seven Wonders of the World. » Built from limestone, El Castillo stands at a height of 30m including a 6m temple on top. Each of the pyramid\'s four sides has 91 steps up it, making 364 steps total, with the temple topping the pyramid considered an additional step totalling 365, each step representing a day in the calendar.📆 El Castillo is also known as the Temple of Kukulkan as it served as a temple to the Mayan feathered serpent god Kukulkan, or Quetzalcoatl.🐍 » We visited this time last year, however, the spring and autumn equinoxes are the best days to visit to see the “descent of Kukulkan\".🐍 » According to legend, twice a year when the day and night are in balance 🌗, the pyramid is visited by its namesake Kukulkan.🐍 Thanks to the crafty and mathematically brilliant architecture of the Mayans combined with the natural rotation of the Earth on the equinox, an amazing eerie image of a giant snake crawling down the temple is created. Kukulkan returns to earth to provide blessings for a full harvest and good health before bathing in the sacred waters below and continuing on his way to the underworld. » If you can\'t visit on either equinox, don\'t worry! The phenomenon is recreated nightly during the Light and Sounds Show at 7pm in winter and 8pm in summer. » We love doing things independently as much as we can when we travel. As Chichen Itza is located just a couple of hours drive away from Playa del Carmen (and Cancun) we rented a car and drove there ourselves so we didn\'t get to stay for the light show as we had to drive back.🚗 » What\'s your travel style? Are you a DIY person or do you prefer to go on an organised tour? Let us know in the comments below!💬👇 » #WanderingOn #LiveToTravel #Mexico #ChichenItza #SevenWondersOfTheWorld
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“Sunsets are proof that no matter what happens, every day can end beautifully.” — Kristen Butler » The sun sets over Edinburgh from Calton Hill, one of the seven hills of Edinburgh.🌆 » Set right in the city centre, Calton Hill is unmistakable with its unfinished Athenian acropolis poking above the skyline, giving Edinburgh it\'s nickname, the \"Athens of the North\". » It\'s a popular sunset spot as it\'s easily accessed - it only takes about five minutes to get to the top of the hill from two staircases on either side, or you can drive up and park - and it offers panoramic views down the length of Princes Street and of Edinburgh Castle.🏰 There are also great views of the coloured cliffs of the Salisbury Crags, Arthur\'s Seat, and the slopes of Holyrood Park.⛰️ » On the last night of April, up to 12,000 people take to Calton Hill for the Beltane Fire Festival, an ancient Celtic fertility festival. 🔥 Traditionally, Beltane was the start of the pastoral summer where animals were taken from their winter shelter to the fields and \"Beltane\" is the Gaelic word for May. » In Edinburgh\'s revivalist celebration of Beltane, three hundred or so voluntary performers from the Beltane Fire Festival Society celebrate the ending of the \'dreich\' (Scottish slang for dreary and bleak) Scottish winter and the hoped-for season of warmth and new growth with drumming, fire performance, revelry, and a ritualised procession around Calton Hill. 🔥 As well as the fiery displays, acrobatics, pulsating drums, and body-painted theatrics, the Beltane Fire Festival Society retell an immersive story for the crowd. » The revival of this festival started in 1988 as a free event but is now ticketed. There is also a Samhuinn (Samhain) Fire Festival on Halloween night which traditionally marked the beginning of winter in the Celtic calendar. 🎃 We hope to catch the Samhuinn Fire Festival festival later in the year! » Have been to any interesting cultural festivals? Let us know!💬👇 » #WanderingOn #LiveToTravel #EdinburghScotland #CaltonHill
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