Hidden Treasures of the Great Wall of China: Tips for taking the path less traveled
China is a treasure trove of sights to see, delicacies to eat and festivals
to celebrate. Most people who come to China for a visit aim to see the Great Wall, whether it is in Mutianyu, Jiankou, Badaling, Jingshanling or all the way in Dandong.
One of China's most popular historical monuments, it spans thousands of miles and winds through so many beautiful sceneries and landscapes of the country and makes for a wonderful sightseeing experience.
Hiking the Great Wall
However, it is best experienced while hiking, which makes for a great physical exercise.
For fitness nuts who like a challenge but also love adventure and perhaps some culture and history thrown into the mix, a hike on the Great Wall is the perfect activity.
It is also a great experience for the moderately fit
who are interested in a challenge. It can be an arduous task but the reward is a feeling of adrenalin and a glimpse into history. There are also cable cars for those who might need a break from walking. A little cheating
is alright sometimes! Here are two sections of the Great Wall that you must see, and it is not the usual Badaling section of the Great Wall.
Mutianyu Great Wall
One of the well preserved parts of the wall is at Mutianyu, which is northeast of central Beijing. It used to be the barrier
at the north to defend the Capital and the imperial tombs. Mutianyu is a favored site for hiking in comparison the other sites of the Great Wall.
It is surrounded by beautiful streams and woodland and snaking across
mountains and valleys. Mutianyu has over 20 watchtowers and it is over 2,000 meters (1.25 miles) long, which takes about five or six hours of walking. Not an easy feat but the feeling of accomplishment
at the end is worth it!
Generally, the well-preserved parts of the wall are better for safe hiking. However, those who prefer the wilder, steeper and remote sites will find it in Jiankou.
Jiankou Great Wall
Highest elevation: 1,010m (about 3300 feet above sea level)
Mutianyu is in close proximity to the Jiankou section of the Great Wall, so if you are feeling particularly ambitious, you can plan a day of hiking at Jiankou. In English, Jiankou means Arrow Nock,
because the collapsed ridge opening has a shape of an arrow nock.
This section of the Great Wall has not been restored since its creation and is located along a mountain and surrounded by steep cliffs. For those that love photography as they
hike, this part of the wall is the perfect spot. It makes for breath-taking sights that you will remember for life.
Jiankou takes two to four hours of hiking, so it is not as long as Mutianyu. However, it is not as
preserved as Mutianyu so it makes for a very adventurous expedition.
Some areas are too steep and may have to be by-passed for safety, depending on the stamina of the hikers.
This trail is for experienced hikers, as beginners may find it a little dangerous and might be better hiking in a group than alone. Thrill-seekers will love this trail!
Due to the proximity of Jiankou to Mutianyu, both sites are a very popular combined
Here are some general tips when hiking the trails on the Great Wall.
- Wear the most comfortable shoes, you don't want hurting bunions
- It helps to have sunglasses, hats and tons of sunscreen (in the summer) or gloves, caps and scarves in the winter to keep warm.
- Take water, fruits and any other munchies you can to stave off dehydration and dizziness, as there are no food stalls as you hike.
- Toilets are not available during a great part of the hike, so it is important to prepare by using the toilet before or after the hike.
- For hiking in Mutianyu and Jiankou, you need long trousers and not shorts to hike, because the jungle environment is not suitable for shorts.
- Finally and most importantly, it is important to stay safe as you hike, don't over-exert yourself. Take many breaks and stop if you have to.
Have fun and takes lots of photos while you're at it.
This post was provided by James Tan, COO of Jetbay; Photos provided by Jetbay
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October 1, 2015