|Day-by-day detailed itinerary:
Day 1 Arrive in Beijing
A Really Wild Beijing Office representative will meet you at the Beijing International Airport at 9:30 a.m. and drive you to Beijing New Dragon Hostel for your first night stay. You’ll be greeted at the hotel lobby by the Really Wild Beijing Office directors. In the evening, please try to go to bed as soon as you can, because we are departing to the Great Wall in the early morning on the next day.
Day 2 Beijing - Old Dragon’s Head - Shanhaiguan (L+D)
You’ll enjoy a combination of Western and Chinese breakfast on the first floor restaurant of your hotel. We will meet you in the morning at 7:30 a.m. and from there we will make the 4.5-hour drive to the Shanhaiguan Pass, which is in a town situated in the northeast of Qinhuangdao City, Hebei Province. It adjoins the Bohai Sea to the southeast and the Yanshan Mountain to the northwest.
After lunch at a local Chinese restaurant, we’ll have a tour to the Great Wall Museum to learn about the history of the Great Wall. You’ll also learn about the history and military strategy of this section of wall, as well as see military relics. We will start our hike at Old Dragon’s Head, also known as Laolongtou. Laolongtou is the most eastern section of the Great Wall, which extends into the Bohai Sea. Standing here is almost like being on a peninsula as you can feel the overwhelming power of the rolling sea. This hike takes about 40 minutes.
After marveling at the scenery here, we will make our way to the Shanhaiguan Pass Fortress, which is also known as “The First Pass Under Heaven”. Climbing up the Zhendong Tower, you will see that to one side of the tower is the rolling sea, while on the other lies the impressive Great Wall.
For the night we will stay at the Jinshan Hotel and have a tasty dinner of Northern Chinese cuisine to get you started for tomorrow’s hike. Be sure to wear long-sleeve shirts as we will walk through lots of bushes.
Day 3 Jiaoshan – Sandaoguan - Dongjiakou (B+L+D, 5-6 hours of hiking)
Today we will hike from Jiaoshan to Sandaoguan (Three-layer of Wall Pass), which will take us 5-6 hours. We’ll hike from the bottom of Jiaoshan Mountain up directly and enjoy the beautiful bird’s-eye view of Shanhaiguan city in the early morning sun-light. Hiking partly on the wall and partly by following a wild mountain trail in a northeasterly direction for about three to four hours, you will find yourself in the beautiful valley overlooked by Mt. Longevity: huge stones, quiet forest and crystal creeks. In the shadow of Mt. Longevity sits the little village of Sandaoguan with about 35 families living in it.
After a brief lunch, we’ll walk down to Sandaoguan village. After a short rest, we will drive about one and a half hours to Dongjiakou village, where we will stay in the local farmer's home. It’s very simple, but clean (two-bed, with no private washroom and hot water for shower.).
Day 4 Dongjiakou-Chengzhiyu-Xiaohekou Great Wall ( B+L+D, 8-9 hours of hiking)
In the early morning after breakfast, we will hike up the mountain in Dongjiakou village for the beautiful arch-stones with relief and Cihou, a special structure on the Wall that can only be seen in this part of the Wall (about one hour). Then we will go around the Donjiakou village for the ruin of the fortress and chat with the villagers, who are the descendants of the builders and guards of the Great Wall. The hike takes about 2.5 hours or 3 hours. Lunch is at Dongjiakou.
The rest of the trek to Xiaohekou takes us about 5 hours, passing Chengziyu village on the way (where we will have our lunch). At the end of the trek, we will drive from Xiaohekou to the Eastern Qing Tomb, and we’ll stay at the nearby Qingfeng hostel (two-bed one room, with private washroom).
Day 5 East Qing Tombs-Huangyaguan (B+L+D, 1.5 hours of hiking)
After waking up at 7:30, we will make the short trip to the East Qing Tombs. The Eastern Qing Tombs is among the finest, best-preserved and largest of the extant tomb complexes in China. Along the south side of Changrui Mountain, the tombs of five emperors, four empresses, five imperial concubines, and one princess are arrayed based on the traditional concept of placing the most senior and most distinguished in the center.
Of all the tombs, Xiaoling is the biggest and most elaborate, standing as the focal point of the entire structure. The grandeur of this tomb may be attributed to its having been the first sepulcher constructed for a member of the royal family of the Qing Dynasty, so the builders hoped to set the tone for a prosperous future. Crossing through the Great Red Gate, you can see buildings of different sizes, all with roofs of yellow glazed tile, connected by the brick paths or 'sacred ways' that converge in the area of Xiaoling.
An example of the most exquisite architecture of the Eastern Qing Tombs is Dingdongling, the tomb of Empress Dowager Cixi. Although she handled affairs of state for more than 45 years, she never ascended the throne. (The only female ruler in Chinese history was Empress Wu Zetian in the Tang Dynasty (618-907). Elaborate and highly refined decorations and carvings inside Dingdongling make it unique among the tombs of the Qing Dynasty. The main material used in the tomb, which took six years to build, was gold, the symbol of the imperial family.
Shortly after lunch we will drive to a small village, where we will start our afternoon hike on the Great Wall on Huangyaguan. It is designed as a miniature of the entire Great Wall of China, thereby allowing you get an understanding of the entire wall in a fraction of the time. The entire section is built on an abrupt mountain ridge. Being endowed with both natural beauty and cultural interest, it has become famous as a natural beauty spot and summer resort.
After about an hour’s walk we will reach a peak overlooking the valley below. From the peak we can also see the Huangyaguan Fortress, which was restored in 1984. From this vantage point, we will be able to see its Baguan pattern, a specially designed labyrinth designed to confuse and entrap the enemy. We will then walk down to the fortress for a fascinating and informative visit inside.
For that evening we will stay in a local hotel called the Huangyaguan Great Wall Hotel.
Please make sure that you wear long-sleeves tomorrow.
Day 6 Huangyaguan- Qianganjian #2 Village (B+L+D, about 4-5 hours hiking)
Huangyaguan is situated in a beautiful valley in the heart of the Yanshan Mountains. We start our walk heading up the steep renovated steps towards what appears to be a sheer cliff face. This is where we encounter "Heavens Ladder", a steep climb of over 200 steps leading us up to the cliff face. Once we have caught our breaths, the path continues gradually up to the top of the ridge and once again to the old Wall, which follows the contours of the mountain. We’ll drop down into the nearby valley and clamber along the Wall as it gradually descends to the valley below. Afterwards we’ll meet our waiting bus and drive to Qianganjian village. We’ll spend the evening in the village.
Day 7 Qianganjian – Sanjiebei – Jinshanling (B+L+D, 3-4 hours of hiking)
After breakfast, we will make our way west along the wall into Jinshanling. This is the classic Great Wall hike that most Great Wall enthusiasts have done. Unlike most hikers, we will take this popular route in the opposite direction. At first we will encounter deteriorated “Wild Wall” and the hiking will be a little steep. But as we make our way west the wall will gradually turn into a more restored state, and the hiking will get progressively easier. The hike today allows you to compare the differences between the two wall types, and this is both highly enjoyable and informative.
After reaching Jinshanling we will drive to the Jinshan hotel at the foot of the wall, where we will stay the night. We will have dinner around 7 either at the hotel or a local restaurant.
Day 8 Jinshanling-Gubeikou (B+L+D, 4-5 hours of hiking)
After breakfast, we will be continuing our hike westward from Jinshanling until we reach the General Tower at Gubeikou. Gubeikou is mostly “Wild Wall” so the hiking will be tougher than the beginning of our hike. We will have lunch on the wall, and the countryside in front of us will provide the perfect back-drop.
In the afternoon, we’ll stop by a famer’s house and yard in Panlongshan to do some traditional Chinese activiites – trying paper-cut, working on grain-mill and grain-picking. We’ll sleep in the yards.
Day 9 Panlongshan (B+L+D, 4 hours of hiking)
After breakfast, we’ll hike from Panlongshan for about 4 hours. We’ll have lunch in Meizhou restaurant. Then we’ll drive to Jiankou for the night.
Day 10 Jiankou-Mutianyu (B+L+D, 4-5 hours of hiking)
Our hiking will end on a high note as we will be visiting most hikers’ favorite section of the Great Wall. In order to hike on Jiankou, we’ll
first have to climb up a path for about 60 minutes to reach it. Our hike today will take about 4 hours and will cover 10km/ 6 miles. The Jiankou section is known for its ruggedness and wild beauty, and you will be in awe of the marvelous views it affords. As soon as we reach Jiankou we will see a deserted watchtower that gives you a panoramic view of the entire valley. In the early morning the view is priceless with its morning fog. This section of the wall is not well known by tourists, although if you see a picture of the Great Wall from exotic traveling magazines, chances are it is from Jiankou. This is the pinnacle of exotic Great Wall scenery.
This part of the wall is often empty, so you will have some peace and serenity on your hike today. Another highlight of Jiankou is the enemy observation tower known as, "Ying Fei Dao Yang", so named because this watchtower was erected on the highest peak in the area, and eagles and hawks often perch on it. Although the majestic wall is slowly being conquered by small trees and brambles, the view from the top is still stunning!
From Jiankou we will cross over onto Mutianyu, a section of the wall that has been largely restored. Although it has gotten a face-lift, it avoids the army of tourists that plague Badaling. Mutianyu offers some breathtaking views of the valley and wall below, and if you look to your right you’ll see a large sign engraved in the side of the mountain encouraging you to “Cherish the teachings of Chairman Mao.” Mutianyu has also become popular for visiting foreign leaders and celebrities (former U.S. President Clinton visited Mutianyu on one of his trips to China).
You can hike down to the parking lot, take a cable car, or take a toboggan ride (highly recommended, and lots of fun!) down to meet our driver. We will then have BBQ fish for lunch at a local restaurant.
When we drive back to Beijing, you will be rewarded for all the sweat and blood you put into this hike by having a Peking Duck dinner, the signature dish of Beijing.
For the night you will stay in the New Dragon Hostel, a quiet hostel located in the Dongdan district of central Beijing (near Tiananmen Square, the Forbidden City, and Wangfujing shopping street).