The Great Sri Lankan Bike Tour
Bopath Ella to Adams Peak (Sri Pada)
16 Mile Cycle / 12 Mile Hike
Elephant count 0.
(monkeys, plenty of monkeys🐒, fruit-bats by the hundreds 🦇 and one small brown snake 🐍)
The morning view doesn’t disappoint; we have an amazing view of the Bopath Ella Falls from our hotel room window, we discover our hotel is just a stones throw away, so pop down before breakfast.
Our plans for today are to head up Sri Pada (Adams Peak), we’ll cycle to Sri Palabaddala walk up the hill and be back in time for dinner!
What you’ll quickly discover about this adventurous duo, is that all our best laid plans are either generally mis-calculated, or we get distracted by a little side adventure or two.
Sri Palabaddala is a 40km ride away from our hotel, this is the start of the Adams Peak climb, so we attempt a short cut along some footpaths we see on the map, the road quickly turns to jungle and the villagers we are passing, are horrified and hysterical by our attempts and advise we turn back…. We take their advice.
Instead, we opt to leave our bikes at Rathnapura (Gem City) and get a taxi the last 20km.
Sri Lanka is known for its trade in Sapphires and its where the Sapphire in Princess Diana’s engagement ring was panned.
We find an amazing hotel (Gem Fields Rest) owned by Bhanu, he offers us some space in his garage for the bikes and calls a taxi.
The drive to Sri Palabaddala is an interesting one, nothing wrong with the taxi driver, but we realise we’re probably safer on bikes than in any kind of vehicle.
The driver is our own personal tour guide, he tells us about the region, we stop at the side of the road for a quick lesson in the art of growing and picking tea and discover his sister lives in Llandudno, Wales (my old home town)
The climb to the top of Adams Peak is a very popular pilgrimage, with most people making the climb during the evening, sleeping at a way station near the top and climbing the final ascent in the morning, to witness the sunrise. https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Adam’s_Peak
Due to the number of pilgrims on the mountain during Jan and May and the popularity of climbing to see the sunrise, the route has been provided with street lighting.
We’re ‘informed’ the climb is 8km and has 7000 steps, both key pieces of information were slightly misleading. The day is hot, we’re proably still suffering from jet lag, and most likely still a bit tired from our big ride the day before…….So our delight at the 7000 step mark, quickly diminishes when we look up to see we are still nowhere near the top, although we do hear a bell ringing in the distance, encouragement for all the weary pilgrims.
It’s a brutal climb, nearly 10km, with over 10,000 steps climbing to 2,243m and it’s now dark, but significantly cooler.
4.5hrs later, we finally reach the summit, with our legs resembling poorly made jelly, we remove our shoes and climb the last few steps to the temple.
There’s a sense of calm and peace, barely a word spoken and we see the bell, we also ring it for those climbing the last 1000 vertical steps. We stay to reflect on our two day epic journey and what lies ahead.
Feeling less spiritual and more hungry (after all, we were going to be back in time for dinner!), we munch a packet of peanuts and head down on our wobbly legs.
The lights go out as the generator fails, the mobile phone torch becomes a lifeline for the next 30mins, (the headtorch is still packed on the bike….at the guest house #FAIL1).
With the lights back on and an appreciation our 15% battery probably won’t last another power shortage, we opt for a run down….we run down hills/mountains frequently, so is not something too challenging…that is, until the boy steps into a drainage gully and quickly faceplants the floor.
Everything seems OK, there’s a small cut to the shin which is bleeding, the first aid kit is also packed in the bike at the guest house #FAIL2, so we have no choice but to continue down the mountain.
The climb down is not a quick one, our legs are fatigued and it’s too dangerous to try and run, it’s dark, wet and we’re wearing Salomon trail shoes (not the best for wet slippery concrete steps….the ascent to Adams Peak is mostly man made steps)
We make it to the bottom in under 8hrs (our total climb up and back down). The shin injury catches the eye of a local coffee shop owner, a look of horror, followed by the offer of a rewarding and soul restoring hot cup of sweet coffee is a welcome one! (it’s now 22:30).
Our taxi arrives and we decide to go back to our hotel and collect the bikes in the morning.
Hot showers followed by first aid duties are the priorities, a quick clean of the wound and a plaster and all will be well……
On closer inspection and not being the best poker player, the first aid duties of quickly applying a plaster…quickly turned into an exclamation of “Oh jeez (other words were available) think you’ll be needing stitches for this” 🤕
We don’t have stiches, it’s past midnight, so I tape the gaping wound, the boy takes a couple of painkillers and lights out, the stiches will need to wait until the morning. 😊