Great Wall of China

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10 days, from £1585
Mountain Kingdoms
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Description

Gentle / Moderate
Walk back in time along little visited sections of the Great Wall, explore Beijing's cultural highlights and stay in comfortable hotel accommodation.

Highlights
*- Mountain, sea and city - the Great Wall in all its splendour
*- Good quality, comfortable hotel accommodation throughout
*- The cultural highlights of Beijing
*- Optional extension to see the magnificent Terracotta Warriors in Xi'an

A short action-packed trip which combines the sights and sounds of Beijing with a six day trek on the Great Wall of China that focuses on sections of the Great Wall which few visitors ever set foot on.

Travelling east, from the point where the sea meets the Great Wall of China, we trek in comfort - staying in good quality hotels en route with good facilities. We walk along sections of the Great Wall of China that few visitors see, chosen for their scenic splendour and historic interest. In some places the ancient wall has crumbled into little more than earthen banks whilst in others it zigzags into the distance across high peaked mountain ridges blanketed with spring blossom or autumnal hues.

We break our walking days with a visit to the Qing tombs - the fascinating burial site of the emperors of the Qing Dynasty - and we spend our nights in hotels, rather than camping or village homes, so that we can relax in comfort and enjoy a good night's sleep.

In addition to walking the Great Wall, we have included time in Beijing with tours of the Forbidden City, Temple of Heaven and the traditional Hutong district and, if you want to see China's other great cultural attraction, there is an optional extension to Xi'an to view the magnificent Terracotta Warriors.

This is an exciting time to visit China as it undergoes rapid economic and social transformation. In fact, it's the perfect time to see firsthand how its greatest ancient monument has become a symbol of its modern day dynamism. If you want to see the best sights that the country has to offer in less than a fortnight, the Great Wall of China Trek is perfect for you - call us today on 01453 844 400 to book a fantastic trek to this mysterious country.

Itinerary


 Day 1 - Fly London To Beijing

Depart the UK for your flight to Beijing.
Overnight: Overnight Flight Meals To Beijing


 Day 2 - ARRIVE IN BEIJING. VISIT THE TEMPLE OF HEAVEN.

Upon arrival in the morning you are transferred to your hotel in the city centre. En route, you will have the opportunity to see the National Olympic Stadium known as the "bird's nest", because of its unique design, as well as the National Swimming Centre, known as the "water cube".
After lunch, you will visit the Temple of Heaven complex where emperors once prayed for good harvests, making offerings of grain, silk and animals. Constructed during the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644), it is acknowledged as a masterpiece of Chinese architecture; the Hall of Prayer for Good Harvests was built without a single nail. Surrounding the Temple is a park where local people, mainly the older generation, come to participate in a range of games and activities. It is quite impressive and great fun to watch them doing their T'ai Chi, playing ball games, dancing with ribbons and singing traditional Chinese songs. Dinner will be in a local restaurant where you will begin to explore the delights of Chinese cuisine.
Overnight: Beijing Tiantan Hotel


 Day 3 - TOUR OF TIAN'ANMEN SQUARE, THE FORBIDDEN CITY AND THE TRADITIONAL HUTONGS.

In the morning, you will visit Tian'anmen Square followed by a tour of the Forbidden City. For 500 years the Forbidden City was the Imperial Palace for Ming and Qing dynasty emperors. The biggest and best preserved cluster of ancient buildings in China, this monumental complex, once strictly out of bounds to the general Chinese public, houses up to 800 buildings and, reputedly, 9,000 chambers. Highlights of the Forbidden City include the Clock Museum and Treasure Hall.
In the afternoon, you will explore the traditional neighbourhoods called Hutongs (literally alleyways), where you will get an idea of what the entire city once looked like.
Overnight: Beijing Tiantan Hotel


 Day 4 - DRIVE FROM BEIJING TO LAOLONGTOU, (4 hours' drive) WALK TO SHANHAIGUAN - 1? hours

After breakfast you will drive four hours northeast of Beijing (315km) to Laolongtou. Known as the Old Dragon's Head, this is the eastern starting point of the Ming Dynasty Great Wall and it extends about 20 metres into the Bohai Sea like a dragon drinking water; hence its name. You will check into your hotel first and have lunch before visiting the Dragon's Head, the adjacent temple and the various museum exhibits.
You will then take your first steps along the Wall, walking for approximately 6kms into the modern city of Shanhaiguan. This gentle introductory walk provides an excellent illustration of what happens to the wall when it is left to the elements and the passing of time; becoming little more than an earthen bank topped with vegetation. The contrast is considerable with other restored sections of the wall you will see during your trip.
On reaching Shanhaiguan you will visit the strategically important First Pass Under Heaven and walk along the restored garrison walls. The impressive walls of the pass are 14 metres high, 7 metres wide and 4 kms around. There are 6 gates into the pass topped with 5 watchtowers from which you can look down onto the entire fortress and the Great Wall stretching away into the nearby mountains and down to the sea.
You will then return to your hotel at Laolongtou before taking dinner at a local restaurant.
Overnight: Haisheng Garden Hotel


 Day 5 - DRIVE TO DONGJIAKOU (2 hour drive), DONGJIAKOU GREAT WALL WALK 3-4 hours. DRIVE TO ZUNHUA (4 hours drive)

After breakfast, a 2 hour drive (80km) will take you to Dongjiakou where there are three sections of the Great Wall open to walkers. En route, you will have a short stop at Panjiakou to take photos of the picturesque point at which the Wall crosses the Jiujiang River. On reaching Dongjiakou you will follow a good path uphill for 20-30 minutes before you step onto the Great Wall itself. This section, although short, is the perfect contrast to your walk from yesterday as here you can see the Wall in its full glory, rising and falling along the ridges of Damao Mountain. The Dongjiakou Wall was initially built in 1381 and, despite its age, it remains one of the best-preserved sections of the Ming Dynasty Wall. Largely in its original condition, any restoration work has been carried out by the local villagers rather than the government, many of whom are descendants of the original Wall builders and guards. As you walk along the Wall you will also see elegant carvings above some watchtower entrances and an original carved stone tablet bearing the names of the original wall builders - all unique features.
The first section ends where the mountain acts as a natural barrier and a path takes you back down to your starting point. From here you move on to the next section where a path again takes you uphill to join the Wall. This section is approximately twice the length of the first and, although undergoing greater reconstruction, still enables you to appreciate the engineering genius of the Wall's creators. There may also be an opportunity to walk the third section of the Dongjiankou Wall - making a total of 9 kilometres. After you have completed your walk, there will be time to have lunch and explore the village at the foot of the Wall before driving to Zunhua (approx 4 hours, 210km) where your hotel awaits.
Overnight: Zunhua Soluxe Yishui Grand Hotel Or Similar


 Day 6 - DRIVE TO THE EASTERN QING TOMBS (1 hour drive) AND HUANGYAGUAN WALK - 4 hours

This morning you will have a drive of one hour (40km) to reach the Eastern Qing Tombs where you will explore the splendid imperial mausoleums of the Qing Dynasty including the burial chamber of Emperor Xiaoling.
The Eastern Qing Tombs are considered the grandest, best-preserved and most complete of all the emperor burial sites in China. Building started in the 18th year of the reign of Shunzhi (1661) in the Qing Dynasty. Altogether 161 members of the imperial family including five emperors and 15 empresses were buried here together with their concubines. The last burial was of an imperial concubine in 1935. Entrance to the site is along the impressive Sacred Way where statues of guardian animals and other figures protect the route to the tombs.
Having completed a tour of the Qing Tombs you will drive for a further hour to the Huangyaguan section of the Wall, famous as the starting point of the annual Great Wall Marathon. Following lunch, the initial part of the walk takes you up the many steps of the Huangyaguan Wall which was renovated in 1987. Eventually, you climb a steep stairway known as the Skyladder after which the wall is replaced by mountain trails with delightful views. Your path contours around the mountainside and along ridge lines and you will encounter sections of the Great Wall built during the North Qi Dynasty - approximately 1500 years ago. This is the oldest wall you walk on throughout the entire trip. After around three hours you will descend to the village of Qianganjian and be driven to your hotel.
Overnight: Huangyaguan Mountain Villa Hotel


 Day 7 - DRIVE TO GUBEIKOU (1 hour drive), WALK TO JINSHANLING (5 - 6 hours).

Gubeiko village lies approximately one hour's drive from Miyun and is the starting point for a very interesting day's walk. Initially, you will see the Wall in an extremely dilapidated condition, little more than a large earthen embankment with no recognisable features. This is indicative of its pre-Ming Dynasty age as well as the stone looting that has taken place over the years. Gradually, as your walk progresses, more regular features appear and you will see the remains of watchtowers and ramparts. In places though, it is so overgrown with vegetation that you will need to take an alternative path through the countryside. As you get nearer to Jinshanling, the views get more expansive and the Wall takes on its more classic nature, snaking over the surrounding mountains. By the time you reach Jinshanling you will be walking on one of the better preserved sections of the original Great Wall which has undergone little reconstruction work and has protected status. You will leave the Wall and take the short walk down to the village of Jinshanling where your simple hotel and a good meal in one of the village restaurants awaits. If the weather is good, you can walk back up to the Wall to enjoy the sunset.
Overnight: Jinshan Hotel


 Day 8 - DAY HIKE FROM JINSHANLING TOWARDS SIMATAI (6 hours).

You will have an early start today to see the sunrise from one of the watchtowers at Jinshanling. In the near silence of the morning, this is truly an unforgettable experience.
Extensive restoration work on the Jinshanling to Simatai section of the Great Wall means that your walk today will go from Jinshanling towards Simatai and then return to your starting point. Unfortunately, access through to Simatai isn't presently possible. However, the sheer beauty of the both the Wall itself and the surrounding countryside still make this a very worthwhile exercise. In fact, it is desirable to see as much of this section as possible before it is restored and its original qualities, perhaps, lost forever. The slightly ruined nature of the Wall here is much of its appeal and, though you may find yourself stepping carefully over plants and loose bricks, you can still appreciate its astonishing beauty and impressive construction. The watchtowers were built to a range of designs giving each in turn a different look whilst the mountainous nature of the countryside required steeply rising and plunging parapets and other special features such as perpendicular obstacle walls to aid defence.
Having walked as far as you can, enjoyed a picnic lunch and no doubt taken many photos, you will return to Jinshanling where your driver will be waiting to whisk you away to your hotel.
Overnight: Cfgc Grand Hotel, Beijing Or Similar


 Day 9 - DRIVE TO JIANKOU (1 hour drive), WALK FROM JIANKOU TO MUTIANYU (4-5 hours). DRIVE TO BEIJING (2 hours drive)

In the morning there is a one hour's drive (40km) to the foot of the Jiankou Great Wall. This section of the Wall was built in 1368 during the Ming Dynasty and is named after its shape (like a bended bow). It is famous for its unique beauty and many photographers arrive in the early hours to capture sunrise here. You will initially walk up through trees for around 30 minutes to get to the Zhenbei watchtower. Standing on top, 1,000m high, there are beautiful views of the entire expanse of the Jiankou Great Wall and surrounding mountains.
Today's walk takes you along one of the most magnificent and virtually deserted sections of Wall. The Jiankou section is largely in its original condition therefore you will need to tread carefully in places where the bricks are loose and crumbling and the vegetation is taking over. After about four hours you will get to a section of restored Great Wall known as Mutianyu which, by way of total contrast to the peace and quiet of the previous few hours, may be inundated with Chinese tourists. When you finish your walk you can either stroll down or take the option of a cable car ride, or even a toboggan run (both options payable locally). At the bottom of the Wall you will be assaulted by a teeming melee of stallholders selling all manner of tourist wares. It's a good place to barter for a bargain and buy your 'I climbed the Great Wall' T-shirt.
Leaving the Wall behind, you will enjoy lunch in a nearby restaurant where you can celebrate your Great Wall adventure. A two hour drive (90km) will take you back to Beijing and a farewell evening meal.
Overnight: Beijing Tiantan Hotel


 Day 10 - FLY TO LONDON.

Today you will take a pre arranged free shuttle bus to the airport for your return flight to London.
Overnight: Departure Day


 Day 11 - Fly Beijing To London