- 11 days
About the challenge
One of the Seven Wonders of the World, the Great Wall of China has to be the ultimate in building projects the world has known; constructed by human hands over 2,000 years ago. It stretches across this hilly region with long tentacles often disappearing into the haze. We walk on old sections of the Great Wall, as well as restored sections with smooth flagstones and lots of steps! This challenge is physically demanding but offers fabulous, never ending scenery and a fascinating insight into a rich culture and history.
Dates & prices
|Departs||Days||Charity||Availability||Registration fee||Fundraising target||Payment option|
|09 Oct 2014||11||Open challenge||Full||£299||+||£2600||Or||£1100||Fully booked|
|26 Sep 2015||11||Parkinson's UK||Spaces||£350||+||£3300||—||Book now|
Day 1: Depart London for Beijing
Day 2: Beijing
Arrive Beijing. We transfer to our city hotel, where we can freshen up and relax! There will be a full trip briefing in the evening. Night hotel.
Day 3: Beijing – Huangyaguan
Drive approx 4 hrs; trek approx 2 – 3 hrs
We transfer this morning from the busy streets of Beijing, driving northwest into the hills above Huangyaguan, a small town situated in a beautiful valley in the heart of the Yanshan Mountains. After a scenic drive through a landscape of hills and lakes, we arrive at our village and see the Great Wall for the first time, as it snakes along the ridgeline of the mountains. After a good traditional lunch we start our trek! The Wall is well renovated here and it disappears into the horizon in both directions. After some steep step sections, which give us a good inkling of what lies ahead, we walk predominantly downhill until we reach Huangyaguan. Here the wall crosses the road that leads to our nearby accommodation. Night mountain hotel.
Day 4: Huangyaguan – Mountain Village
Trek approx 7 hrs
Our day’s walk begins where we left the Wall yesterday, and we head up the steep renovated steps towards what appears to be a sheer cliff face. This is where we encounter ‘Heaven’s Ladder’, a steep climb of over 200 steps leading us up the cliff face. There are fabulous views from the top, and once we have caught our breath the path continues gradually on steep tracks through forest, up to the top of the ridge. Once again we join the old Wall, and follow it along the contours of the mountain until we clamber down into the valley below. We bed down in the houses of a local village, a real cultural experience. Night farmers’ houses.
Day 5: Mountain Village – Jinshanlin
Trek approx 4 – 5 hours; drive approx 3-4 hrs
Waving goodbye to our hospitable hosts, we head up through the farming terraces immediately behind the village. The path is steep, and the terraces soon give way to rocky hillsides scattered with scrub. Eventually we re-join the Wall, which is unrestored and crumbling so we follow a path which takes us alongside it, with fabulous views along the ridgeline to the day’s highest point. We then drop down the hillside and make our way on winding tracks through trees back into the valley, where farmers grow maize, and walnut and fruit trees. Back at the village, we walk along the village road, enjoying the scenes of rural life, until we reach the main road and our waiting transport. Our drive through the mountains to Jinshanlin is very scenic. Night mountain hotel.
Day 6: Gubeiko – Jinshanlin
Trek approx 7 – 8 hrs
A short ride in the bus takes us to our start point just outside the village of Gubeiko. We walk through the village and farmland until our path takes us alongside an un-restored yet well-preserved section of the Wall. This part appears to be of almost brick-like construction and dates back to the Qing Dynasty – the last dynasty to rule over this vast land. We follow a track down into the valley in order to skirt a Chinese military post and follow dirt paths through trees and undergrowth before rejoining the Wall. There are some steep sections and we help each other out if need be. Stunning views of the Great Wall snaking along the hilltops keep us going whenever we find it tough! The final stretch to Jinshanlin is on restored Wall with lots of steps. A short walk through the village and small shops takes us to our simple accommodation. Night mountain hotel.
Day 7: Jinshanlin – Watchtower Panorama – Mutianyu
Trek approx 6 – 7 hrs; drive approx 2 hrs
Today’s stunning walk on this largely restored section of the Wall takes us from Jinshanlin towards Simatei. Starting where we left off yesterday, we head up the carefully restored steps which take us into the mountains one final time. There are a few sections on older bricks and some dirt tracks, but for most of today we walk on good flagstones. The scenery is superb with rolling purple hills fading into the distance. We climb uphill a good deal, but from our high point we enjoy the views of the Great Wall as it clings precariously to the rock face opposite, dotted with many watchtowers; classic ‘scales on a dragon’s back’ scenery. After time to soak up this breathtaking panorama, we leave the Wall behind and head down on small paths through forest and farmland. We then meet our waiting transport which takes us to Mutianyu. Night mountain hotel.
Day 8: Mutianyu
Trek approx 4 – 5 hrs
Our trek starts with a brief walk through a friendly village before we climb for 1-2 hours up the hillside, where we may see villagers gathering firewood. We can see the Wall high on the ridge ahead of us, and slowly wind our way up to it. Once more our efforts are rewarded by stunning views as the Wall disappears from view in both directions. We continue along the well-restored Wall flagstones, with some good sections of steps, before descending down to the village at Mutianyu. There is an opportunity to do some haggling in the markets before you transfer to the hotel, so carry some money with you for this! Night mountain hotel.
Day 9: Mutianyu – Juyongguan – Beijing
Drive approx 2-3 hrs; trek approx 4 hrs
After a transfer, our final day’s walk takes us on a circuit of the restored Wall at Juyongguan. The Wall undulates across the rolling spine of hills offering spectacular views of this area, where many warriors once fought. After some of the steepest steps we have encountered yet, our trek is over all too soon and we must leave the Wall and return to the twenty-first century. We load up the bus and transfer to Beijing, the nation’s capital and home to over 13 million people. Our senses will be unprepared as we enter Beijing and experience its frenetic energy, quite a contrast after the natural scenery and remote tranquillity of the past few days. After checking into our hotel, we have time to freshen up before the evening celebration meal.
Day 10: Free day Beijing
We take the opportunity to visit the fabulous Forbidden City and Tianenman Square. You are then free to do more sight-seeing, explore the local shops and markets or simply relax. (Lunch and dinner not included)
Day 11: Depart Beijing
Transfer to the airport for our flight to London – arrive same day.
Discover Adventure reserves the right to change the route or itinerary for safety reasons should local conditions dictate.
The cost includes all accommodation as well as all flights and transfers; all meals except three as specified in the itinerary; entrance to the Forbidden City and all other sites visited as part of the itinerary. Experienced Discover Adventure leaders and doctor (depending on final group size) are also included, along with a local support crew of local guides, drivers and cooks.
It does not include personal travel insurance, airline fuel supplement if charged by the airline, (capped at £200 by Discover Adventure), entry visa, tips for local crew or international departure tax. It also does not include any entrance fees to any optional sites or attractions you may wish to visit, or optional activities you may wish to undertake. Remember to allow extra for drinks, souvenirs and other personal expenses. There is plenty of opportunity to buy souvenirs during your stay in China. Please note that costs may fluctuate and we have no control over any changes. We strongly recommend you carry a credit card in case of personal emergency.
Group flights leave from London Heathrow or Gatwick, (we regret that we are unable to book connecting flights), and are booked through Discover Adventure Ltd under ATOL licence 5636. By travelling with Discover Adventure you are protected by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA). We are most likely to fly with Emirates or Cathay Pacific airlines. However, we don’t always fly with the same airline so this is a guideline only. You will usually receive confirmed flight details several months before departure. Our itineraries are always based on current flight schedules and are therefore subject to change by the airline. If you prefer to book your own flights please ask us for a land-only cost.
Accommodation on this trek ranges from good quality western-style hotels in Beijing to more basic mountain hotels or lodges. There is one night in farmers’ houses, which provides a real insight into rural Chinese life, you'll be in dormitory style accommodation on this night. Please do not expect the same standards as you would in the UK!
All food is included when trekking. The food is good, freshly-cooked and will give you plenty of energy for the long days of trekking. Meals are generally Chinese-style not western. In some areas fresh meat can be hard to come by.
Being vegetarian or having other dietary requirements is not usually a problem provided you let us know well in advance. Please do not expect as much variety as you would have access to at home – we will be in very rural areas and among people of a different culture who may not understand your requirements, however willing they are to help. If you know there are plenty of foods you cannot eat you may wish to bring extra snacks from home so you can top up your energy supply. Please feel free to ask us for advice. Any meals not included are listed in the itinerary and are generally when we are in Beijing - where you are free to explore and try other culinary experiences! There is always something to suit every budget.
Discover Adventure Crew
Your trip will be led by experienced Discover Adventure leaders. Our leaders are selected for their experience in harsh wilderness environments, knowledge of travel in remote areas, friendliness and approachability, sense of humour and ability to safely and effectively deal with any situation that arises. You are in very safe hands with a Discover Adventure leader.
All our leaders are from the UK or other English-speaking countries. Most work for us on an ad-hoc basis and have ‘real’ jobs in-between trips! We never send our leaders to the same destination for months on end – we want them to be as enthusiastic about your trip as you are. Although our leaders are trained in expedition first-aid, they are accompanied by an expedition doctor or medic (dependent on group size), who is there to look after the well-being of the whole group and deal with any incidents. They help the leaders to ensure the trip runs smoothly and encourage you when things get tough. The number of crew looking after you will depend on the final size of your group, but an average-sized group in China would be led by two leaders and a doctor. At Discover Adventure we pride ourselves on our high leader: trekker ratio and believe it leads to greater trip enjoyment as well as excellent trip safety.
Local Support Crew
Our local support crew is made up of local guides and drivers. Your local guide knows the local area well, and is a great source of knowledge about local customs and lifestyles. Our drivers do not always speak much English but are very friendly and approachable. The Discover Adventure crew work closely with the local crew to ensure your trip runs smoothly and safely.
Your leader will arrange a collection of tips for the local support crew at the end of your trek. Tipping is not obligatory, but once you see how hard they work on your behalf you will be happy to donate something! All our local crew are paid wages, but bear in mind that the average wage in this country is far below what you would spend on a normal night out.
Your luggage is carried by vehicles from hotel to hotel. Vehicles will drop us off at the start of the trek and pick us up for any transfers. They also carry all food, water etc. Space is limited and hard-sided luggage is not suitable, so it is essential that your kit is packed in a soft sailing bag, rucksack or expedition kitbag. Ask us about our specially-designed low-cost kitbags if you don’t have one already. You should also bring a small daypack to carry for items needed during the day as you will not have access to your main luggage until the evening.
Your safety, and that of the rest of the group, is our highest priority. Our trips are designed and planned with safety in mind. Your crew will be equipped with radios and emergency satellite phones, extensive medical kit and other safety apparatus where necessary. They always have access to our 24-hour emergency back-up in the UK. Our leaders are responsible for safety on the trip, and will make any changes to the itinerary they deem necessary should local conditions dictate. Pre-trip administration – such as compulsory medical questionnaires and travel insurance – is all done with your safety in mind.
Preparing for the challenge
Walking is partly on flagstones of various conditions on the Wall, and partly on paths through woodland or farmland. At times it is rough and rocky underfoot, at other times it can be muddy. There are also many steps. If you are unsteady on your feet you may find trekking poles useful. You will trek approximately 80km on this trip overall. Because of the varied terrain and lack of accurate maps, it’s impossible to give accurate daily distances. It’s also much more useful when training to think about the hours you need to walk for!
Clothing & Equipment
We are travelling through remote mountains where we could be exposed to bad weather at any time so be prepared for quickly changing conditions and temperatures. We provide you with a detailed packing kit-list on registration, as well as details on useful discounts you are entitled to as a Discover Adventure customer. We are always available if you need advice.
Our challenges attract people of all levels of experience and fitness, all ages and backgrounds. We expect all participants to train hard in advance to achieve this challenge, but we respect everyone’s limits. We design our challenges so that everyone can go at their own pace: this is not a race.
For logistical and safety reasons we sometimes need to re-group, so the front-runners will find themselves waiting for the slower ones. Please relax, and remember that this is a team effort that enables people to achieve their personal goals and earn sponsorship.
Passport & Visa
A valid ten-year passport is essential; it should be valid for at least 6 months after entry into China. A visa is essential for all nationalities, costing approx £35 at time of writing. We will provide you with more information about entry visas in the lead-up to your trip.
We insist that you have had a Tetanus injection in the last ten years, and highly recommend protection against Polio, Hepatitis A and Typhoid. A Yellow Fever certificate is essential only if coming from an infected area. You should always check with a GP or travel clinic for up-to-date travel health advice as it does change.
For most people, the main attraction of travelling to a different country is to see new sights and enjoy new experiences. Sometimes those new experiences can make life harder or more inconvenient than you may like, such as toilet hygiene or different food, or simply a different attitude to solving problems. This is all part of the challenge you are signing up for! We are very privileged to live in a country with a high standard of living, and travelling exposes us to different challenges – all of which help broaden our horizons. We can guarantee that coming face-to-face with experiences outside your normal ‘comfort zone’ will help you bond with your fellow trekkers and provide you with plenty of things to laugh about! A sense of humour and sense of adventure are two of the most important things to bring with you!
Worldwide Sustainable Tourism
Long before ‘Responsible Tourism’ became a recognised phrase, we designed and ran our trips to ensure they made minimum impact on the environment and a positive impact on the local communities we pass through.
Discover Adventure Projects
We are supporting a tree-planting project in Peru and a children’s home in Tanzania on a long-term basis. If you would like to ‘give something back’ please consider donating £5 to our projects when you sign up.
We encourage all our customers to offset emissions connected with their trip. You can offset at any time in the lead-up to departure by visiting Climate Care via our website and making a donation to a worthwhile project supported by them. Alternatively, if you wish to take more practical action in the UK you can volunteer for a day with TCV and work on an environmental project local to you. Work may include construction footpaths, dry stone walling, creating wildlife habitats or planting trees in your community. Volunteer today at www.tcv.org or call 01302 388883.
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