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St Luke’s Plymouth Great Wall of China Trek

5th Nov 2022 - 13th Nov 2022

9 days/China /Moderate to Challenging

Overview

This is no holiday! You will travel to a remote and challenging area of the Great Wall of China where you will trek for 5 consecutive days 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 trek through wild and secluded countryside landscapes with unique views of one of the great wonders of the world perched atop the rolling hills. Staying in guesthouses throughout the trek allows you to experience authentic rural Chinese culture as you discover more about the simple lifestyle of the local people. The trek days are tough; with long days on your feet, hundreds of steps to climb and steep ascents and descents but with adequate preparation, dedication and perseverance you have the best chance of completing the challenge.

A moderate to challenging trip for someone of a good general level of fitness. The Great Wall is built on rolling hills and some sections have hundreds of thousands of stairs, some of which have begun to crumble and are more like steep gravel slopes. Each day you can expect to walk for 5-8 hours on various types of terrain. The activity level is high so don’t expect it to be easy. You will need to train in preparation for this.

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.

The terrain is hilly and undulating with steep sections. 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 ground underfoot from the 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 and leaving some exposed areas with drops. 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 hills.

Temperatures will be dependent upon the weather which is usually clear and sunny. Rain is unlikely but possible in November. On average the temperature will range from approx. 18°C to 23°C during the day and down to approx. -2°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 the 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. Some days you may have hot lunches. You should bring your own snacks to eat throughout the day. A freshly cooked traditional Chinese evening meal will be served at the guesthouse comprising rice, noodles, meat, tofu, and vegetable dishes.

You will stay in a hotel in Beijing and guesthouses during the trek. Accommodation is on a twin or triple share basis throughout. A single occupancy room (at a supplement) may be possible, subject to availability. During the trek you may occupy two or more neighbouring guesthouses depending on the final group size, but you will share your meals together and be able to relax in the evenings as a group.

The hotels have en-suite facilities with flushing toilets and hot showers. Toilet paper should always be placed in the bin, not flushed.

During the trek there are basic toilet and shower facilities available (shared). 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).

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 join this trek. It may be possible for you to participate if you are 16 or 17 years old if 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 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.

You must engage in training (including plenty of walking up and down hills) before departure to ensure your best chance of enjoyment on the trip. This could include hill walking, running, cycling, gym workouts, boot camps, etc. You can download a number of free apps to help you train and track your progress e.g. MapMyWalk, C25K, MyFitnessPal etc. Attempting to complete the trek without training will make it more challenging than necessary and will be detrimental to your experience, and the experience of your teammates.

The trek is rated moderate to challenging. There are many steep uphill and downhill sections to contend with and you must be prepared to carry a daypack weighing 6-7kg. Although the distances trekked may appear short, due to the hilly terrain it can take 6-7 hours to trek just 5km, as ascent and descent profile each day ranges from 515m-866m.

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
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 (buffwear.co.uk)
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 (SPF 30+)*
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
Luggage organisers/packing cubes
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 5 November 2022):

London to Beijing
Fly to Beijing on an overnight flight.

Day 2 (Sunday 6 November 2022):

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 7 November 2022):

Beijing to 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 an ancient and original section of the Great Wall, 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. 9km. Total ascent: 515 meters. 3-4 hours
Meals: Breakfast, lunch, dinner

Day 4 (Tuesday 8 November 2022):

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 and uneven. We return to the guesthouse tonight.
Trekking: Approx. 11km. Total ascent: 709 meters. 6-7 hours
Meals: Breakfast, lunch, dinner

Day 5 (Wednesday 9 November 2022):

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. 15.4km. Total ascent: 866 meters. 6-7 hours
Meals: Breakfast, lunch, dinner

Day 6 (Thursday 10 November 2022):

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 the incredible effort in building the wall and the meticulous attention to detail, tactical wisdom and subtle beauty in its construction. We descend through the forest and return to our guesthouse.
Trekking: Approx. 8km. Total ascent: 697 meters. 7 hours
Meals: Breakfast, lunch, dinner

Day 7 (Friday 11 November 2022):

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. 6km. Total ascent: 539 meters. 4-5 hours
Meals: Breakfast, lunch, dinner

Day 8 (Saturday 12 November 2022):

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 13 November 2022):

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

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: £375
Sponsorship: £2990

SPONSORSHIP

There is a minimum sponsorship amount for the tour 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.

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 – approx £25-30pp, drinks, souvenirs)
  • Transport to/from UK airports
  • Travel insurance
  • Personal trek kit and equipment
  • China visa (current cost approx. £175)

Got a Question?

If you’ve a question about this challenge that you can’t find the answer to within the given information then complete this quick form and we’ll get back to you as soon as possible.

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