Visiting the Great Wall of China is on many bucket lists. Maybe you’ve already been! We wanted to do something different – to trek the Great Wall of China instead. Most visitors head to the official access points that are restored and regulated sections filled with tourists and souvenir stands. However, there is an alternative, and I suggest it’s the best way to see the Great Wall of China.
For a serene and adventurous experience, you can get off the beaten path and visit “the wild wall” as many call it – old original sections of the Great Wall that have not been restored. These sections are overgrown by nature, in rugged countryside and seldom see any foot traffic.
You will need to be moderately fit for this Great Wall of China adventure; there are some tough hills.
As a weekend excursion during a business trip in Beijing, we booked a private guide through Great Wall Adventure. While it is possible to do on your own, we selected the “2AD” itinerary and signed up for a trek of 2 days and 1 night in the areas of Gubeikou, Jinshanling and Huanghuacheng.
The trip included sleeping on the wall in a centuries-old guard house.
Our drive from Beijing was three hours through rural communities until our driver stopped at a construction site on the side of a highway. From there our guide led us through thick forest up a hill for 20 minutes until we found ourselves at the bottom of the wall. And then we made our way to the top of the wall.
The terrain is beautiful, interesting, difficult and serene; all at the same time.
As you trek the Great Wall of China you’ll climb up and down uneven stairs (using your hands at times) and squeeze through bushes that have grown through the cracks. Make sure you wear pants to minimise the scratches – it’s all part of the magic. The wall is steep, but is a small price to pay to enjoy the spectacular mountain scenery.
The great thing with this tour company is that you only need to carry your supplies for the day (snacks, lunch, water, layers, bug spray, sunscreen, etc) because at the end of the day you leave the wall to a local farmer’s house. There, the driver appears with your bags to change clothes and the farmer cooks you a simple dinner.
Then it’s time to grab tents and sleeping bags from the farmer’s shed and head to the wall to sleep in a watch tower. It’s not a comfortable sleep, but the Mongol ghosts will be there to comfort you!
The next day is another full day of trekking on the wall until you meet your driver and head back to Beijing.
Trip taken August 2018