China Hiking: Exploring the “Wild” Great Wall

enhanceRF4UUKDDWe hear that the Great Wall is inundated with tourists. We didn’t miss them a bit, as we took two days away from Beijing to explore the “wild,” unrestored sections with China Hiking.

Transportation to and from the Lama Temple subway station, all meals, basic camping gear, and an English-speaking guide were all seamlessly provided. We backpacked in the tents, sleeping bags and pads, (all provided, including the backpack), in addition to a change of socks and underwear, headlamps, toothbrushes and toothpaste. Meals were plentiful, fresh and local – and quite tasty! Dinner was a delightful catered buffet, delivered by a local kitchen in the village below.

Most photos you see of the Great Wall are restored sections: broad paved roadways, where you can imagine horsemen and carriages moving along the wall, where the hordes of tourists now stroll. These “wild” sections are not reconstructed, and are often vegetated, including fruit trees, possibly seeded by wildlife visitors. Without the reconstruction efforts, you get a better look at the different construction methods used during different time periods.

The Jiankou section, our first day’s hike and camp-out, was originally built in the Tang Dynasty (618-907), and restored in the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644). The dolomite foundations make for a stronger, higher and steeper wall.

The second day, we hiked the Gubeikou section, also known as “Winding Dragon.” Originally built in the Qi Dynasty (550-557), this is the oldest section of the Great Wall.

Specific details about this particular hike can be found here.

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As other posts attest, we like camping beyond the developed campground. This trip was far better than we imagined: two thumbs up for China Hiking!

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