One of the Seven Wonders of the World, The Great Wall of China has to be the ultimate building project the world has ever known; constructed by human hands over 2000 years ago, it stretches across this hilly region with long spurs and watch-towers often disappearing into the mists.
Our trek is very varied, as we pass through woodland and terraced farmland, and follow the contours of the beautiful hills and mountains in remote areas north of Beijing. We follow old sections of the Great Wall, as well as restored sections with smooth flagstones and lots of steps!
Depending on our flight arrival time, we will either avoid Beijing’s considerable traffic and transfer to the start of our trek at the small town of Huangyaguan, where we can freshen up and relax! Alternatively, when our arrival time makes it practical, we will transfer into Beijing. Here we enjoy a tour of Tianenman Square and the Forbidden City, the must-see sight of Beijing, before a night in the city. There will be a full trip briefing in the evening. Night city hotel / mountain hotel.
Drive approx 2 hours
NB: If transferring straight to Huangyaguan, there will be opportunity to visit the Forbidden City at the end of the trip.
Huangyaguan is a small town situated in a beautiful valley in the heart of the Yanshan Mountains. After a fairly leisurely start (or driving from Beijing), we have our first experience walking on the Great Wall. After some steep step sections, which give us a good inkling of what lies ahead, we walk predominantly downhill until we again reach Huangyaguan for the evening. Here the wall crosses the road that leads back to our accommodation. Night mountain hotel.
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 homestays.
Waving goodbye to our hospitable hosts, we head up steeply through the farming terraces immediately behind the village. The terraces soon give way to rocky scrub-covered hillsides. Eventually we re-join the Wall, which is unrestored and crumbling so we follow a path 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 back into the valley, through fields of maize, and walnut and fruit trees, to the village road and our waiting transport. Our drive through the mountains to Jinshanlin is very scenic. Night mountain hotel.
A quick 20-minute hop 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.
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, dotted with many watchtowers; classic ‘scales on a dragon’s back’ scenery. After time to soak up this breathtaking panorama, as we enjoy looking back over the mountains at our huge achievements, we leave the Wall behind and head down on small paths through forest and farmland. We then meet our waiting transport which takes us back to Beijing, the nation’s capital and home to over 20 million people! This evening we have a great celebration to mark our achievements. Night hotel.
We enjoy time visiting Tianenman Square and the amazing Forbidden City before free time to explore or shop. If you saw this on your arrival day, you are free to spend your time as you wish. Night hotel.
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 communication devices (eg phones, radios and/or emergency satellite phones), medical kit and other safety apparatus appropriate to the destination. Our leaders always have access to our 24-hour emergency UK back-up. They 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 medical questionnaires and travel insurance as appropriate - is all done with your safety in mind.
Group flights leave from London Heathrow or Gatwick on scheduled airlines 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).
Your journey may involve a transit en route, details of route and flight times will be confirmed several months before departure. We do not always use the same airline for each destination; if you wish to know the probable carrier and flight times, please call for details. 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 international-style hotels in Beijing to more basic mountain hotels or lodges. Expect plenty of variety. There is one night in guesthouses (dorm-style) in converted farmers’ homestays.
Accommodation is usually in well-located, comfortable 2-3* hotel(s); standards are generally very good though there may be some variation.
Entry requirements vary depending on your destination and nationality. It is your responsibility to ensure your passport is valid, and any visas are obtained in good time. Check the FCO’s advice on entry requirements for your destination to be sure. To find out if you need a visa you can check your requirements using our partner, Visa Machine, website here; please ensure you allow plenty of time.
Your routine UK schedule of vaccinations should be up-to-date (especially tetanus). We recommend you check Fit For Travel for further details. You should always check with a GP or travel clinic for up-to-date travel health advice as it does change.
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 45km in total – though do not base your training on distances! It will feel far longer. It’s much more useful when training to think about the hours you need to walk for!
We plan our trips around the optimal weather conditions, but could still be exposed to bad weather at any time. It is vital you are prepared for all conditions. 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.
If you are still to buy some kit don’t forget that Cotswold Outdoor, Snow and Rock, Cycle Surgery and Runners Need offer all Discover Adventure participants 15% off any purchases you make with them. Please ask us for the code if you do not have this already.
Travel Insurance is compulsory on our challenges; we strongly suggest that you arrange insurance cover as soon as your booking with us is confirmed. Should you need to cancel on medical grounds, you will need insurance to cover the costs involved (registration fee and any trip costs depending on cancellation date).
You should also ensure that you have adequate cover for the type of challenge you are taking part in as well as medical emergencies, evacuation and repatriation.
You can obtain a quote with Insure to Travel from our website here, or you may choose to take out your own travel insurance, just remember to let us know the policy number and emergency phone number!
For more information about travel insurance, please click here.
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 participants 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!