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St Leonard’s Hospice Great Wall of China Trek

9th Oct 2021 - 17th Oct 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 lifestyle of the local people and also taste some incredible local cuisine.

There may also be the opportunity to extend your stay to visit the Terracotta Warriors in Xi’an (additional costs will apply).

A moderate to challenging trip. 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 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 support staff, cooks and drivers and a Different Travel Company UK tour manager.

The trek is rated moderate to challenging as the terrain is 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.

Temperatures will be dependent upon the weather which is usually clear and sunny. Rain is unlikely but possible in October, seeing just 5 days of rain throughout the month historically. On average the temperature will range between 15°C to 18°C during the day and down to 0°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 warm layers and 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 18+to participate on this trek unaccompanied. It may be possible for you to participate if you are 16 or 17 years old but you must be accompanied by a parent or guardian. 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. Adventure travel involves an element of the unexpected so do not to expect standards to be the same as you are used to at home. Remote areas are sometimes unpredictable (be it because of group pace, weather conditions, local bureaucracy or other factors) and itineraries may be altered to allow for this. For you to get the most out of your challenge it is important that you are flexible, positive and eager to take on all the challenges that arise. Suitable fitness preparation before departure forms part of this.

You should have a good level of fitness to ensure fast recovery from each day of trekking. If you do not already regularly exercise it is crucial that you start training (including plenty of hills) before departure to ensure your best chance of enjoyment on the trip.

The trek is rated moderate to challenging but 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 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
Camera + spare batteries

Clothing & Footwear

Hiking boots*
Shoes for evenings (optional)
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 (Deep Heat)
Plasters and blister plasters
Anti-histamine tablets/cream
Antiseptic cream (e.g. Savlon)
Indigestion remedy (e.g. Gaviscon)
Lip balm with SPF protection
Decongestant (optional)
Throat lozenges (optional)
Scissors/tweezers (optional)
Spare glasses/contact lenses

Optional

Video camera + charger
Mobile phone + charger
iPod/MP3 player
Walking pole(s)
Notebook/diary/playing cards
Plastic bags – various sizes
Portable battery pack

Luggage

Suitcase for check in luggage
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)
Pyjamas
Eye mask (optional)

Please note: This list is not exhaustive and does not account for your personal taste or preference. It should be used as a guideline only. If you have any questions or queries regarding this list which are not answered in the sections above please contact info@different-travel.com.

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

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

Itinerary

Day 1 (Saturday 9 October 2021):

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

Day 2 (Sunday 10 October 2021):

Beijing
Arrive in Beijing and check into a central hotel in time for a group dinner and a briefing on the week ahead. If time permits, why not explore the maze of alleys (hutongs) where you will find traditional houses, small local shops and other wonders.
Meals: Dinner

Day 3 (Monday 11 October 2021):

Beijing to Gubeikou
Today we transfer by bus to the Great Wall (approx. 3 hours). After lunch we enjoy an introductory trek to familiarise ourselves with the terrain of the days ahead. We wind our way uphill and 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 hours
Meals: Breakfast, lunch, dinner

Day 4 (Tuesday 12 October 2021):

Gubeikou
This morning we transfer from our guesthouse to explore the Gubeikou section. This area 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 majority of the trek today is along a part of the wall which is almost completely worn away and the terrain underfoot is rugged an uneven.We return to the guesthouse tonight.
Trekking: Approx. 6-7 hours
Meals: Breakfast, lunch, dinner

Day 5 (Wedneday 13 October 2021):

Gubeikou to 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 Jinshanling.
Trekking: Approx. 6-7 hours
Meals: Breakfast, lunch, dinner

Day 6 (Thursday 14 October 2021):

Jinshanling to 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.
Trekking: Approx. 7 hours
Meals: Breakfast, lunch, dinner

Day 7 (Friday 15 October 2021):

Simatai to Beijing
After breakfast we transfer to the start of our half-day trek through the forest to a remote and rarely visited watch tower at the top of a hill. After enjoying the views from the top we descend on the same trail through the forest where we meet our vehicles which transfer us to our lunch spot and a final farewell to our trek support team. After lunch we drive back to Beijing (approx. 3-4 hours).
Trekking: Approx. 4-5 hours
Meals: Breakfast, lunch, dinner

Day 8 (Saturday 16 October 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.
Meals: Breakfast, lunch, dinner

Day 9 (Sunday 17 October 2021):

Beijing to London
Transfer to the airport for the return flight to London which may arrive the following day, depending on flight schedules.
Meals: Breakfast

OPTIONAL EXTENSION

Day 9 (Sunday 17 October 2021):

Beijing to Xi’an
Free time to further explore Beijing before departing for the station this evening for the overnight sleeper train to Xi’an (Approx. times dep. 20.40, arr. 08.30)
Meals: Breakfast

Day 10 (Monday 18 October 2021):

Xi’an
On arrival meet your local guide and enjoy a day of visits around the Old City, including the City Walls, History Museum Wild Goose Pagoda and Great Mosque. Overnight at the central Skytel, or similar.
Meals: Breakfast, lunch, dinner

Day 11 (Tuesday 19 October 2021):

Xi’an to Beijing
Spend a full day visiting the magnificent Terracotta Warriors. This evening transfer to the station for the return overnight train to Beijing (Approx. times dep. 19.30, arr. 08.25).
Meals: Breakfast, lunch, dinner

Day 12 (Wednesday 20 October 2021):

Beijing – London
Transfer to a hotel for breakfast and free time until departure to the airport later on.. Dependent on flight schedules you may return to the UK the next day.
Meals: Breakfast

N.B. This itinerary may change due to unusual weather patterns, the ability of the group and so on. We will do our best to keep to the set itinerary however we cannot be held responsible for changes that might occur outside of our control. In all such circumstances your guide and tour leader will have the final say in the interest of the health and safety of the group

Costs & How to pay

Registration fee: £325
and then…

Sponsorship: £1600 trip costs and £1500 for St Leonard’s Hospice

  • A registration fee is payable at the time of booking.
  • The balance of £1600 is due 8 weeks before departure.
  • The minimum sponsorship must be paid to the charity prior to departure.

Option Extension

  • £545 per person in twin room, based on 15 people
  • £595 per person in twin room, based on 10 people
  • £650 per person in twin room, based on 5 people
  • Single Supplement: £50

Trip Cost Includes:
Flight amendment fee, all transfers & transport in China on a private basis, accommodation as mentioned, return train fare in 2nd class soft-sleeper carriage, escorted transfers in Beijing, local guide in Xi’an (you will not be accompanied on the train), meals as mentioned, 24-hour emergency support in China and the UK.

What's included

  • Return flights from London
  • Airport taxes and charges
  • Local transfers and transport in China
  • Accommodation in 3* hotel (3 nights) and guesthouses on trek (4 nights)
  • 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 (current cost approx. £175)

Got a Question?

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