Great Wall of China walking vacation

“Walk some of the Great Wall of China's remotest and best preserved sections and you'll be treated to an undulating history lesson culminating in a sightseeing tour of Beijing.”

Highlights

Beijing | Forbidden City | Tiananmen Square | hutong districts | Mutian Yu | Jiankou | Gubeikou | Jinshanling | East Qing Tombs | the 'Phoenix Tower' | Simatai | Taipingzhai | Huangyaguan | ruined and restored beacons and watch towers | Optional chance to walk to the section near Gubeikou at sunset |

Travel Team

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19 Oct 2019
US $1649
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Our top tip:
Some of the comfort levels, particularly in the guesthouses, aren't the same as western standards so make sure to pack sleeping bag liners and pillow cases, to ensure a good night's rest.
Trip type:
Small group. Average size 12. Minimum age 16.
Activity level:
Moderate/Challenging. 6 days point to point walking an average of 6kms per day.
Accomm:
2 nights city hotel, 1 night basic hotel and 5 nights basic guesthouse.
Included:
Accommodation, transport, listed activities and tour leader.
Meals:
8 brkfsts, 6 lunches, 6 dinners.
Solos:
Single travelers welcome. Sole room supplements apply.
Vouchers
Accepted
Vacation type

Small group vacation

Small group travel is not large group travel scaled down. It is modelled on independent travel – but with the advantage of a group leader to take care of the itinerary, accommodation and tickets, and dealing with the language. It’s easy to tick off the big sights independently – but finding those one-off experiences, local festivals, traveling markets and secret viewpoints is almost impossible for someone without the insider knowledge gained from years in the field. If you’re heading off on a gap year your, perhaps – but for those with a two-week vacation, a small group tour will save valuable planning time.

The leaders are not guides – they’re not there to shepherd you around. Instead, they’ll let you know which local restaurant serves great value food – without running the risk of travelers’ tummy. They’ll allow you to avoid hour-long queues at train stations and attractions.

We like to think of small group travel as the Goldilocks option. It is independent travel without the fuss, worry and bunk beds – and organised travel without the coaches. And it’s cheaper than a tailor made tour. It’s sits somewhere in the middle – and we think it’s just about right.

What are the main benefits?
Big experiences
Have big, life-enriching experiences that would be impossible to organise without lots of time and insider knowledge.

Simplicity
Make the most of your vacation time by letting someone else do the hard work and boring logistics!

Peace of mind
Small group tours take care of the security aspects – and provide a safety net should anything unexpected happen.
Who is it ideal for?
Travelers who are short of time
If you don’t have three months to spend exploring, small groups trips let you cover more ground in less time. Your days are not spent queuing for tickets or finding hotels – so you can squeeze more into your vacation.

Solo travelers who’d like company
Likeminded travel companions plus peace of mind for those traveling alone. Single supplements are usually available – providing privacy if you want it.

Less confident travelers
Stray from the tourist trail without worrying about getting lost, and meet local people without dealing with the language barrier.
Mythbuster
“I won’t get any privacy!”
Couples and friends have private rooms, and you can choose to eat alone or not. Single supplements give solo travelers their own room.

“There won’t be any free time”
Free mornings or afternoons let you explore on your own, or just relax.

“The accommodation will be basic”
Trips are as high or low end as you like. Though off the beaten track destinations won’t have luxury hotels, this is all part of the adventure.

“I won’t like the other travelers!”
Tour operators try to create groups with a similar demographic – age, families, activity levels... Chances are, you’ll even make new friends.

“Will we be following an umbrella?”
No.
Valerie Parkinson
Meet a group Leader
Name: Valerie Parkinson

Story: The first British woman to climb Manaslu, Valerie climbed Everest for her 50th birthday. She’s spent fourteen Christmas Days trekking to Everest Base Camp, and is involved insetting up Responsible Tourism initiatives in the Himalayas.
Roshan Fernando
Meet a local guide
Name: Roshan Fernando

Story: Roshan has led over 130 trips – he adores showing travelers around Sri Lanka. He won the company Leader Award in 2010, but his career highlight was working on their Tsunami Project – which earned him a responsible tourism award.

Responsible tourism

Great Wall of China walking vacation

Carbon reduction

Your vacation will help support local people and conservation. We must also reduce CO2. Learn about the CO2 emissions of this vacation and how to reduce them.

Environment

Activity:
This being a trekking trip, we make a generally low impact on the environment by going by foot instead of using fuel burning transport. We also have additional measures put in place to ensure that we do not have detrimental effects on the environment and the wall itself. As the Great Wall was built in around 221 B.C., you can expect some areas of the brickwork to be fairly fragile or loose. Parts of the wall on this tour like Gubeikou and Jinshanling are either only partially restored or entirely original. Tour leaders are extremely keen not to leave behind anything but footprints but it is also absolutely imperative not to destruct the Wall by removing anything either. This is included in briefings to clients.

Water:
Water is a really important issue with trekking trips and whilst we must stay hydrated, it is also vital that we have a system for providing clean water without causing lots of waste on the Wall with plastic bottles. We suggest that instead of repeatedly buying bottled water, guests should re-fill a singular bottle. Although tap water is not drinkable in China, all of the hotels we use have a kettle which can be used to boil and purify water for the trek. Leaders demonstrate this by bringing their own refillable bottles and encourage clients to do the same.

UK Office:
It all starts at home so we have first worked at reducing our carbon footprint in our UK Offices. Through energy conservation measures and recycling policies, we are proud to be actively reducing the waste produced and our impact on the environment. We support various projects all over the world to try and give something back to the places we visit.

Community

Accommodation and Meals:
We will be staying in a variety of locally owned and staffed accommodations. This includes 3 nights in hotels and 5 nights in basic guesthouses. We also try to select accommodation for environmental awareness, which is still in its infancy in China. For example, the hotel in Beijing encourages clients switch off lights with signs, has optional daily linen changing and air-con is only turned on when temperatures hit 26 degrees outside. In terms of meals, where food is provided in hotels, it will be made using locally sourced ingredients and be a mixture of dishes like stir fried, noodles, roast meat and duck with vegetables, dumplings, rice porridge etc. Dinners are taken in local restaurants and these can sometimes be in rural villages along the trail so we can ensure our commerce is benefitting local people.

Group Size:
This small group tour has a maximum of 16 participants, meaning that we have a low impact on the environments and communities we visit and are able to ensure that we do not disrupt or lead to the displacement of local people. The small number also allows us to stay in unique, family-run hotels that cannot benefit from coach tours and other mass tourism due to their limited sizes.

11 Reviews of Great Wall of China walking vacation

4.5 out of 5 stars
SHOW
6
5
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Reviewed on 08 Oct 2019 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your vacation?


Just being there! The tour was so well organised - the we - 12 in all - could just relax and let our Tour Guide Alan weave us through Chinese history as daily we trekked to, then walked & traversed China's Greta Wall north of Beijing. Alan also worked hard to build the 'Group Dynamic' which added to the experience.

2. What tips would you give other travelers booking this vacation?


No matter how fit you may be - find a couple of high hills before you arrive and climb up and down daily as part of your training!

3. Did you feel that your vacation benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?


As once out of Beijing we stayed in local Chinese Inns - all of which were satisfactory as was the food - as well as using a local guide or so the money for our passing seemed to be going to local people. The group was totally aware and in a agreement with the environmental impacts associated with our passing and were in agreement with the signs in a conservation part of the Great Wall that said 'Take just photo's & memories - leave not even a footprint!'

4. Finally, how would you rate your vacation overall?


Defiantly 5 STARS. The only negative from my part was that I unfortunately left an iPad when checking out of our first night at the 'Golden Sun Commercial Hotel' in Beijing - even though Alan phoned within 2 hours or so to report the matter - on our return to the Hotel the Hotel denied finding anything in my room! My fault entirely but not handled well by the Hotel's Head of Housekeeping - not up to standard expected of a city hotel.

Reviewed on 01 Oct 2019 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your vacation?


Walking the wild Wall and Great guide

2. What tips would you give other travelers booking this vacation?


Train and bring proper hiking gear

3. Did you feel that your vacation benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?


Yes as far as possible

4. Finally, how would you rate your vacation overall?


Great

Reviewed on 07 Jun 2017 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your vacation?


The views from the wall watchtowers and then to see the wall stretching out across the beautiful landscape it is something special.

2. What tips would you give other travelers booking this vacation?


Always read trip notes and make sure you are fully prepared to make the most the time you are there

3. Did you feel that your vacation benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?


It definitely benefited local people and we had limited impact on the environment and monies spent may well go to future preservation of certain Great wall areas.

4. Finally, how would you rate your vacation overall?


It was great for me I made some of the nicest friends which along with the views and feeling of achievement makes me want to do another and it is this thought that's keeping me motivated going about my normal days work/life etc.

Reviewed on 03 Oct 2017 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your vacation?


Climbing parts if the Great Wall that were over 1000 years old with no other tourists around and no renovation work.

2. What tips would you give other travelers booking this vacation?


Take more money than the website itinerary indicates as the Tour Guide offers lots of additonal activities.

3. Did you feel that your vacation benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?


50% of accommodation was in local homestays which does help the local community. However the rest was in big hotels. I feel that some smaller less westernised restaurants could have also been used. In my opinion no walking on the un-renovated wall helps with conservation as continuous "foot prints" will always cause further wear and tear.

4. Finally, how would you rate your vacation overall?


A fantastic insight to an amazing country which has one foot in the 5th Century and the other in the 22nd !!!!

Reviewed on 26 Sep 2017 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your vacation?


Walking the wall was amazing and the views with very little people around superb.

2. What tips would you give other travelers booking this vacation?


Be prepared for a lot of walking. Pack as if your going to the gym. Sports clothes needed daily. Boots not necessary if you are confidence in your trainers.

3. Did you feel that your vacation benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?


A lot of local businesses were used wherever we went so yes local people were benefitied

4. Finally, how would you rate your vacation overall?


Excellent very enjoyable itching for the next one.

Reviewed on 09 May 2017 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your vacation?


Walking wall on long empty stretches.

2. What tips would you give other travelers booking this vacation?


Make sure you don't mind short scrambles.

3. Did you feel that your vacation benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?


Supported local business. Disappointed that guide told us it was good to use bottled water as they were recycled other places we went in China hotels had large water bottles where you could fill your own bottles.

4. Finally, how would you rate your vacation overall?


Very good but would not say it was more sustainable than any other vacation company.

Read the operator's response here:

Dear Roger,

Firstly, thank you for your comments, we are delighted that overall you had a great trip.

We would like to thank you for raising the issue of bottled water. We are actually in the process of starting a new initiative whereby all trips in China will provide clients with drinking water from a large receptacle. 20ltr bottles will be employed and clients will be able to fill up throughout the trip. We are currently trialling this approach in India and South East Asia and it has been a great sense. We regret that this wasn't quite ready for your trip but please rest assured that it is to happen soon as we take the reduction of our environmental impacts very seriously.

We do hope that this explanation provides an adequate response to your review and offers you reassurance that we are continuously working on ensuring our trips are as responsible as possible. We hope to welcome you back to China one day.

Reviewed on 11 Jul 2016 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your vacation?


Seeing the extent of the Great Wall, the amazing achievement of its history and
construction.

2. What tips would you give other travelers booking this vacation?


Have a good degree of fitness, particularly if going in the summer.

3. Did you feel that your vacation benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?


Yes

4. Finally, how would you rate your vacation overall?


Excellent

Reviewed on 18 Oct 2013 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your vacation?


Walking on the Great Wall. Interacting with ordinary Chinese people in the
Temple of Heaven Park. Seeing Red & Giant Pandas (and baby giant pandas in
the nursery). Cycling and kayaking in Yangshuo. Very varied and interesting
regional Chinese food (most meals had eight or more different dishes).
Chinese cookery in countryside outside Yangshuo. River cruise through Yangtze
gorges.

2. What tips would you give other travelers booking this vacation?


Read the Trip Notes carefully. Take your own roll of toilet paper and keep a
few sheets on you. Take your own antiseptic hand cleaner and keep it handy.
If it rains, the rain can be very heavy: either accept getting quite wet (not
actually that bad) or take truly waterproof clothes. If you buy an umbrella
locally, open it and try it before handing over cash.

3. Did you feel that your vacation benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?


Local people were used as guides, local restaurants for meals. For several
journeys trains were used rather than aeroplanes. Our entrance fees to the
Chengdu Panda Base presumably helped Panda conservation.

4. Finally, how would you rate your vacation overall?


Five stars: Not unequalled, but equal first with a wonderful vacation we spent in
New Zealand.

Reviewed on 03 Nov 2012 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your vacation?


Every bit of my vacation was great, but the most outstanding part of it HAS to be
walking on the Great Wall. The wall is so varied, in condition and terrain. It
was TRULY a vacation of a lifetime!

2. What tips would you give other travelers booking this vacation?


Be prepared for some scrambling, and a little rock climbing in parts, but for the
most be ready for lots of steps of varying heights. You will need plenty of
energy, but it well worth the experience!

3. Did you feel that your vacation benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?


The are a lot of local people who benefit from this vacation, as they run the
homestays, and I must say the food is REALLY good.

4. Finally, how would you rate your vacation overall?


I LOVED every minute of my stay in China, and the tour was very efficiently run.
Our tour guide, Jerry was really great.

Reviewed on 29 Oct 2012 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your vacation?


Walking sections of the Great Wall far away from the crowds with the perfect
guide.

2. What tips would you give other travelers booking this vacation?


Read all the trip notes carefully - all you need is included.

3. Did you feel that your vacation benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?


One of the great things was the amount of contact we had with local farmers and
their families. Despite the obvious language restrictions, using our guide we
were able to communicate with them and felt using the homestays for overnight
stays and for additional meals did benefit the local people.

4. Finally, how would you rate your vacation overall?


Great organisation, exactly what I was looking for and far exceeded my
expectations.

Reviewed on 28 Aug 2012 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your vacation?


The guide was excellent and the wall treks were amazing.

2. What tips would you give other travelers booking this vacation?


Be prepared to be outside for a long time with very little respite from the sun.

3. Did you feel that your vacation benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?


Yes.

4. Finally, how would you rate your vacation overall?


10/10 - really excellent.

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