Stretching from the Yellow Sea to the edge of the Gobi Desert - some 4,300 kilometres - the magnificent ramparts and watch towers of the Great Wall were built to protect China's northern frontier from raiding Mongol horsemen. Our walks concentrate on some of the most interesting and spectacular sections including the Old Dragon's Head and Jinshanling. This trip gets off the beaten track and explores rural China.

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Why We Love It

Visit the point where the Great Wall meets the sea - Old Dragons Head

Marvel at the Tianamen square, the largest square in the world.

Walk on spectacular sections of the wall near its eastern end at Jiaoshan

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Day by day Itinerary

Walk the Great Wall

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Day 1

Beijing

Arrive Beijing and check-in at your hotel.

Day 2

Beijing

A full day in Beijing, China's capital and its political and cultural centre. The city has been the capital for most of the period since Kublai Khan made it the capital of his mighty Asian Empire in the late 1200s. All clocks in this vast country are set by Beijing time despite the western-most regions being some 5000kms away. During our stay we shall visit the Forbidden City, the one-time home of the Ming and the Manchu (Qing) emperors and a treasure trove of eastern wares. The afternoon is free for you to explore this fascinating city and you may choose to go on a tour of the hutongs (old residential districts of the city - optional). There is the possibility of seeing a Beijing opera in the evening, or perhaps an acrobatic performance (optional). The opera in Beijing is considered to be the best in China. (B)

Day 3

Shanhaiguan

Leaving Beijing we drive to Shanhaiguan. It is here that the Great Wall reaches the Bohai Sea at a point called Laolongtou or the 'Old Dragon's Head' - named after the legendary carved dragon's head that once faced the ocean. The city was a garrison town with a large square fort (which still exists) with huge gateways facing the four compass points. The east gate is an impressive structure known as 'First pass under Heaven'. It has these words inscribed at the top signifying the ancient Chinese perceived division of the world into 'civilised China' and the 'barbarians'. After visiting Old Dragon's Head we then drive to the First Pass where we have our first opportunity to walk on the Wall and visit the Great Wall Museum.

Day 4

Panjiakou

Today we walk out of town along an old section of the wall to the impressive Jiaoshan Pass where it heads into the mountains for the first time. The fitter amongst the group may wish to continue up to a high point for spectacular views (weather permitting). This afternoon we take the scenic drive to Panjiakou where the wall crosses water. (B)

Day 5

Luowenyou

This morning we take a boat excursion on the reservoir at Panjiakou. The surrounding scenery is stunning - the Wall following undulating ridges across the rugged hills before plummeting into the water at two points, Panjiakou and Xifengkou. Joining our vehicle again we head for Luowenyou where we are able to walk for approximately five kilometres on a rugged and quite steep section of the wall with glorious views across the surrounding area. From Luowenyou we continue to our hotel in the grounds of the Eastern Qing Tombs near Zunhua. (B)

Day 6

Huangyaguan

Making a reasonably early start this morning, we hope to have this lovely site to ourselves. The Eastern Qing Tombs are the largest and most complete of the Imperial Tombs in China with 5 emperors, 15 empresses and 136 concubines all buried here. In addition the surrounding mountains contain the tombs of hundreds of lesser nobles such as princes and dukes. We are able to enter a few of the beautifully carved tombs which mostly date back to the 17th and 18th Centuries. That of Emperor Qianlong covers almost half a square kilometre. Leaving the tombs we drive to a point on the Great Wall where there is access, and walk for 2-3 hours into Huangyaguan. This section of the wall is very quiet and offers some great views - the first part of the walk is an ascent up to a prominent tower before descending down to another tower near the river. From here we cross the river and walk into the town and our hotel for the night. (B)

Day 7

Jinshanling

Today we drive from Huangyaguan to Gubeikou. On arrival we walk through the small village of local farm houses, a great opportunity to see life in rural China up close. From here we will walk up on to the wall along a mountain path. This section of the wall takes us past 16 beacon towers and we get to see a part of the wall in the distance that is restricted and not usually seen. We leave the wall at Jinshanling and head to the hotel. Total walking about 6hrs. (B)

Day 8

Jinshanling

Today we aim to walk on one of the most stunning sections of the Wall between Jinshanling and Simatai - both locations where the wall has been refurbished. The walk between these two places is on partially ruined sections, with some quite steep ascents and many steps to be climbed. In 2010 Simitai was closed to the public, so we'll walk as far as we're allowed towards Simitai before returning to Jinshaling for a second night. We pass 18 watch-towers on this walk - these provide the only shade along the route andgive us an excuse to pause and admire the breath-taking views. (approx 4-5 hours walking). (B)

Day 9

Beijing

Today we return to Beijing. We should arrive back into the city by early afternoon with late afternoon free for further personal exploration. You may wish to take an excursion to the Summer Palace or the Temple of Heaven in Tiantan Park (both optional). (B)

Day 10

Beijing

Our tour ends this morning after breakfast. (B)

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