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Great Wall of China Trek

18th Sep 2021 - 26th Sep 2021

9 days/China /Moderate to Challenging

Overview

This trek takes you to a remote section of the Great Wall of China, from Gubeikou to Jinshanling and Simatai. Not only will you trek on the wall itself, meticulously built and restored over thousands of years, but you will also have the opportunity to trek through wild and remote landscapes with distant views of green rolling hills, mountain peaks and with one of the great wonders of the world as the backdrop. Staying in guesthouses throughout the trek allows you to gain an understanding of authentic Chinese culture as you discover more about the lifestyle of the local people and also taste some incredible local cuisine.

A moderate to challenging trip. You are advised to train to a good fitness level before departure to ensure fast recovery from each days’ exertions. There are many steep uphill and downhill sections and lots of steps to contend with and you must be prepared to carry a daypack weighing 6-7kg.

The trek is accompanied by local English-speaking guides who have an excellent knowledge of trekking in the region. The guides are first aid trained and will support you throughout your journey. You will also be supported by an excellent team of assistant staff, cooks and drivers and a Different Travel Company UK tour manager.

You can expect the terrain to be hilly and undulating with steep sections to contend with both on and off the Wall. The distance trekked each day is 5-12km over 4-8 hours. You will not trek on the wall the entire time, often you will walk next to it through the countryside so be prepared for a variety of terrain underfoot from grassy, dry terrain of the countryside to the stone steps of the Great Wall. The Great Wall has been restored in some sections so you will find smooth paved ground with steps built up the hillside. In the original sections the Wall may be crumbling, with earth and stone rubble that shifts underfoot like scree, making it challenging to climb up it. In general you should expect to climb a lot of steps during the challenge so you must train with this in mind and ensure you do plenty of hill walking to prepare for the undulating terrain.

Autumn is considered the very best time to visit China as there is plenty of sunshine and mild temperatures (which drop sharply at the end of October). Temperatures will be dependent upon the weather which is usually clear and sunny. Some rain is to be expected in September and October but nothing like the heavy rain of the summer months. On average the temperature will range between 19°C to 26°C during the day and 5°C to 15°C at night. It’s important to be prepared for all weather conditions and temperatures by packing non-cotton trek layers and waterproofs. It’s better to have waterproofs and not need them, than to not have any when you need them!
Although the temperatures and conditions above are historically accurate, climate change can impact the seasons so you may experience uncharacteristic conditions during the trip which are out of our control. Should this happen the guide will assess the situation and make decisions to ensure the best enjoyment and ultimately safety of the group as a whole.

The trek day will start with a breakfast of hot drinks, noodles, rice, eggs, Chinese dumplings and fruit. You will prepare your own packed lunch each day which will consist of sandwiches with jam or peanut butter, fresh fruit, Oreos (or similar), dried fruit and nuts etc. You should bring your own snacks to eat throughout the day (e.g. flapjacks, cake bars, peperami etc). A freshly cooked traditional Chinese evening meal will be served at the guesthouse comprising of rice, noodles, meat, tofu and vegetable dishes. Plates and mugs are provided as are chopsticks. If you’re concerned about using chopsticks you may wish to bring cutlery. Please inform us in advance if you have any dietary requirements or preferences.

Each night you will stay in local guesthouses on a twin-share basis. Depending on the group size, you may sleep in two or more neighbouring guesthouses but you will eat all your meals and relax in the evening together.

There are basic toilet and shower facilities available throughout the trek (and en-suite facilities at the hotel in Beijing). Towels are provided. Toiletries are not provided at the guesthouses so please bring your own. Toilet paper is provided in limited quantities at the guesthouses so you will need to bring your own for use here and also for use on the trek and at any public toilets (where toilet paper is never provided). Toilet paper must be disposed of in the bins provided, not flushed. During the trek you will need to pack up any toilet paper you use to dispose of properly at your guesthouse bin. NEVER leave toilet paper, fruit peel, nut shells or other litter on the trail. You are recommended to bring a small pack of baby wipes and hand sanitizer for your general hygiene throughout the day (e.g. to clean your hands after toilet visits and/or before lunch).

You must be aged at least 18 to participate unaccompanied. It may be possible for you to participate if you are aged 16 or 17 years old if you are accompanied by a parent or guardian–please contact us for advice. There is no upper age limit. An ideal candidate for the trek would be someone who enjoys being out of their comfort zone and trying something new.

You are strongly advised to train to a good fitness level before departure to ensure fast recovery from each day’s walk. The distances covered may not be great but you must be prepared for, and be capable of, trekking for many hours a day on steep, rough terrain while carrying a daypack of around 6-8kg in weight. If you attempt to complete the trek without training, it will be unnecessarily challenging and will hinder your experience, and the experience of your team mates.

The trek is rated moderate to challenging and you are advised to train to a good fitness level before departure to ensure fast recovery from each day’s exertions. There are many steep uphill and downhill sections and lots of steps to contend with and you must be prepared to carry a daypack weighing 6-7kg.

We require a medical form to be completed by everyone upon registering, and any pre-existing conditions, medications used and other medical issues must be specified. All your medical details are treated in the strictest confidence.

The information will be securely screened by a qualified medical professional, and details provided to your tour manager and local guides so our staff are adequately informed and prepared to support you during the trip. By completing this booking form you are giving consent for us to contact you confidentially with any follow up questions regarding your health.

If you declare any medical conditions you may be asked to provide more information, or we may request to contact your GP. We must be informed if any conditions or medication change, or if new conditions develop. If necessary confirmation of fitness to travel from your GP or specialist may be required.

In the event that your medical issues represent a concern for your safety and wellbeing, or the safety and wellbeing of others in the group, you may be recommended not to take part. If this happens your deposit will be refunded. Please note that we will never unreasonably deny participation on a trip nor contravene the Equality Act 2010.

Essentials

E-tickets + pre-departure info
Passport & copy
Chinese visa
Money / ATM + credit card(s)
LED head torch + batteries
Pen for immigration forms
Sunglasses (100% UV)
Plug adaptor (multi-prong)
Travel insurance information

Clothing & Footwear

Hiking boots*
Shoes for evenings
Shoes for sightseeing
Trek socks
Underwear
Non-cotton base layer top
Non-cotton t-shirt
Thermal top and bottoms
Lightweight trek trousers
Warm fleece
Waterproof jacket +  trousers
Lightweight warm jacket
Sun hat + buff
Warm hat
Clothes for evenings
Casual attire for sightseeing

Hygiene

Shampoo + conditioner*
Toothbrush + toothpaste*
Antiperspirant deodorant*
Shower gel + loofah*
Wet wipes*
Toilet paper* (x2 rolls)
Sun cream (high SPF)*
After sun/ moisturiser*
Hand sanitizer
Feminine hygiene products*
Nail brush (optional)

First Aid Kit

Prescription medicine
Paracetamol / Ibuprofen
Imodium (Loperamide)
Rehydration (Dioralyte)
Muscle rub (e.g. Deep Heat)
Plasters and blister plasters
Anti-histamine tablets/cream
Antiseptic cream (e.g. Savlon)
Indigestion remedy
Lip balm with SPF protection
Decongestant (optional)
Throat lozenges (optional)
Scissors/tweezers (optional)
Spare glasses/contact lenses

Optional

Camera + spare batteries
Video Camera + charger
Mobile phone + charger
iPod/MP3 player
Walking pole(s)
Diary/notebook/playing cards
Plastic bags – various sizes
Portable battery pack

Luggage

Suitcase
Trek kit bag/holdall
Daypack (25-30 litres)
Combination padlock(s)

Eating and Drinking

Energy snacks
2-litre bottle (e.g. CamelBak)
1-litre bottle(s)
Electrolyte tablets (e.g. Nuun)

Sleeping

Ear plugs (essential)
Sleeping bag liner (optional)
Pyjamas

Please note: This list is just a guideline and is not exhaustive. The items on this list do not take into account your personal preferences based on your previous trekking experience, or individual requirements. For information about items on this list please refer to the trip dossier or contact The Different Travel Company on info@different-travel.com

*Please ensure you pack your hiking boots into your hand baggage in the unlikely event your checked luggage goes missing or is delayed.

*Please consider eco-friendly or biodegradable options. Consider shopping at Little Footprint Gifts.

Itinerary

Day 1 (Saturday 18th September 2021)

London – Beijing
Depart London on an overnight flight to Beijing.

Day 2 (Sunday 19th September 2021)

Beijing
Arrive in Beijing and check into a central 3* hotel in time for a group dinner and a briefing on the week ahead.
Overnight: Hotel

Day 3 (Monday 20th September 2021)

Beijing – Gubeikou
Today we transfer by bus to the Great Wall (approx. 3 hours). After lunch we start our trek winding our way uphill to reach the Great Wall at the top, from where you will enjoy views of the wall stretching across the countryside. We descend next to the wall then through a forest to a small town and to our first guesthouse at Gubeikou. Trekking: Approx. 3-4 hours
Overnight: Guesthouse

Day 4 (Tuesday 21st September 2021)

Gubeikou
This morning we transfer from our guesthouse to explore the Gubeikou section. This area dates from the Ming Dynasty and is completely original, quite challenging and one of the lesser visited sections. It is believed to have seen more battles than any other part of the Great Wall and has long been a place of military significance. The start of the walk today is up a part of the wall which is almost completely worn away. We return to the guesthouse tonight.
Trekking: Approx. 7 hours
Overnight: Guesthouse

Day 5 (Wednesday 22nd September 2021)

Gubeikou – Jinshanling
We set off early today to transfer to the start of our trek. Today we will trek up to a section of the wall known locally as the ‘dragon standing on the beautiful golden mountain’. It’s easy to see how the wall resembles a dragon as it weaves across the land. The views are stunning and you will have hundreds of great photographic opportunities. Unlike other sections of the wall, this area has seen little restoration and many of the stairs and turrets have crumbled away to leave steep stone slopes between each watch tower. We descend through forests and past farmland before transferring to our guesthouse in Simatai.
Trekking: Approx. 6-7 hours
Overnight: Guesthouse

Day 6 (Thursday 23rd September 2021)

Jinshanling – Simatai
Today’s trek takes us along a restored section of the wall originally built in the 15th century. In contrast to the unrestored sections of the previous days, here you can see how the wall looked when it was built centuries ago. Here you will gain an appreciation of not only the incredible effort in building the wall, but the meticulous attention to detail, tactical wisdom and also subtle beauty in its construction. We descend through the forest and transfer to our guesthouse in Simatai.
Trekking: Approx. 7-8 hours
Overnight: Guesthouse

Day 7 (Friday 24th September 2021)

Simatai – Beijing
After breakfast we transfer to the start of our half-day trek up to a remote and rarely visited watch tower at the top of a small mountain. After enjoying the views from the top we descend back down the trail through the forest before transferring back to the guesthouse for lunch and a final farewell to our team. After lunch we transfer back to Beijing.
Trekking: Approx. 4-5 hours
Overnight: Hotel

Day 8 (Saturday 25th September 2021)

Beijing
Today you will have guided visits to the Forbidden City and Tiananmen Square before some free time and a special farewell dinner tonight.
Overnight: Hotel

Day 9 (Sunday 26th September 2021)

Beijing – London
Transfer to the airport for the return flight to London. Depending on flight schedules you may arrive into London on Monday 27th September.

Notes: The day-to-day program is subject to weather, general conditions and the progress of the group. While we do not anticipate any changes to the itinerary, we cannot be held responsible for changes made due to unexpected circumstances. Ultimately the health and safety of the group takes priority in all circumstances.

Costs & How to pay

Registration fee: £295
and then either…

Self-funded: £1745

or

Sponsorship: £3490

or

Flexi: £1745 trip costs and £1745 sponsorship for a charity of your choice

SELF-FUNDED

This option is for those who choose to pay the trip costs (flights, accommodation, food, guides etc.) themselves. There is no sponsorship required although if you wish to raise sponsorship for a charity you are welcome to do so.

  • A registration fee is payable at the time of booking.
  • Trip cost balance is payable to Different Travel 10 weeks prior to departure.
  • You are welcome to fundraise separately for any charity of your choice but this is not mandatory. Any fundraising undertaken cannot be used for your trip costs.

SPONSORSHIP

This option is for those who wish to raise sponsorship to cover both the costs of the trip (flights, accommodation, food, guides etc.) and a donation to their chosen charity. There is a minimum sponsorship amount for each trip that you are required to raise in order to participate.

  • A registration fee is payable at the time of booking.
  • The minimum sponsorship must be paid to the charity 12 weeks prior to departure.
  • The amount the charity receives is at least 50% of the minimum sponsorship total.

FLEXI

This option is for those who choose to pay the trip costs (flights, accommodation, food, guides etc.) themselves while still raising some funds for the charity.

  • A registration fee is payable at the time of booking.
  • Trip cost balance is payable to the charity 12 weeks prior to departure.
  • Any fundraising undertaken cannot be used for your trip costs.

What's included

  • Return flights from London
  • Airport taxes and charges
  • Local transfers and transport in China
  • All accommodation as per itinerary
  • All meals as per itinerary
  • Trek permits
  • English-speaking local guides and support crew
  • Different Travel UK tour manager

What's not included

  • Any necessary vaccinations
  • Spending money (tips, drinks, souvenirs)
  • Transport to/from UK airports
  • Travel insurance
  • Personal trek kit
  • China visa (approx. £175)

Got a Question?

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