24 Feb 2011

Great Wall Adventure: Hiking, Camping and Trekking

Posted by ChinaAdvisor

He who has not climbed the Great Wall is not a true man. -Mao Zedong China’s mandatory, must-see sight, the Great Wall (Changcheng), wriggles fitfully from its scattered remains in Liaoning province to Jiayuguan in the Gobi Desert. The original wall was begun over 2000 years ago during the Qin Dynasty (221-207 BC), when China was unified under Emperor Qin Shi Huang. Built to keep out northern invaders, it never really did fulfill its promise, as the Mongolian-controlled Yuan dynasty took over in 1271.

The most touristy section of the wall is at Badaling, but our tours are designed to bring you to the more far-flung and obscure sections, where there is more “wild wall” than renovation. With us you can do it all on the wall-hiking, camping, trekking, giving you a superior Great Wall experience-the way it is meant to be. For our Great Wall adventure trips, we will supply you with serious camping equipment, and your English-speaking guide will be with you giving you helpful bits of info and history along the way. In fact, our guides are the most credentialed and experienced of any adventure travel service in China, and we proudly stand by that statement. You can take a quick 2-day jaunt, or you can roam the Great Wall for two weeks. You can also customize your own Great Wall adventure so that you get exactly what you want out of it. The following is a brief description of just some of the sections we venture to.


For stupefyingly gorgeous hikes along perhaps Beijing’s most incomparable section of wall, head to the rear section of the Jiankou Great Wall. It’s a 40 minute walk uphill after the drop off at Jiankou village. When you reach the top, tantalizing panoramic views spread out in all directions as the brickwork meanders dramatically along a mountain ridge; the setting is truly magnificent. Walk carefully-some sections are in a state of collapse-but its unadulterated state conveys a sublime and raw beauty.


The increasingly popular sections of Great Wall at Huanghua (60 km from Beijing), have breathtaking panoramas of unrestored brickwork and watchtowers snaking off in two directions. There is a refreshing absence of amusement park rides and other tourist trappings such as those at Badaling and other tourist bottlenecks. Clinging to the hillside on either side of a reservoir, Huanghua is a classic example of Ming defenses with high ramparts, intact parapets and sturdy beacon towers.


Near the town of Gubeikou, the Great Wall at Jinshanling marks the starting point of an exhilarating 10km hike to the section at Simatai-a hike we offer. Jinshanling has five main passes and 67 watchtowers. Every 100 meters (328 feet), there is an enemy tower each of which is about ten meters (33 feet) high. Featuring various structures and having various functions, those watchtowers are either one tiered or two-tiered. On the first floor there are some windows for shooting arrows. The roofs of the towers are many and varied, flat, arched, quadrangular or octagonal. Some are used to store weapons and hay. Others are used as soldiers’ bedrooms. Among them, the most celebrated watchtowers are the Big and Small Jinshan Watchtowers.

Old Dragon’s Head at Shanhaiguan:

The mythic origin/conclusion of the Great Wall at sea’s edge, it is the eastern-most point of the Great Wall, and is located in Shanhaiguan, Hebei province. The name derives from the legendary carved dragon head that once faced the waves. Standing at the Laolongtou Great Wall, to the north, you can see it zigzagging over the rolling mountains, while looking to the south, it is the vast expanse of the sea stretching far away. The Old Dragon’s Head is mainly formed by 7 parts, which are the Estuary Stone City, Chenghai Tower, Nereus Temple, Jinglu Beacon Tower, Nanhaikou (Southern Estuary) Pass, Ninghai City and Binhai (Seafront) Walls. Among them, Chenghai Tower is the most celebrated structure, a two-storey building built with wood and bricks, which functioned as a defensive arrow tower. Emperors of the Qing Dynasty once visited it while on their way to Northeast China, worshipping their ancestors and leaving many poems and inscriptions there.the national treasure of China.

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