Brock and I create our travel plans by our bucket list. Our bucket list is jam-packed with adventurous activities that we’ve been dreaming of the past 5 years. They fire up my adrenaline as well as make me want to poop my pants.
Visiting the Great Wall of China is an item that has been patiently waiting on my list. I couldn’t wait to experience it’s enormity, to take in it’s gorgeous views, and to feel it’s crumbly surfaces underneath my feet.
Why not experience the Great Wall of China for yourself? Learn what to expect, hike specifics, how to find a tour company, and what to pack for your hike!!
I had a terrible cold during the beginning of our stay in Beijing. It was the type of cold that fogs your mental capability and condemns you to bed all day. Your throat feels like it’s lubed with knives and it musters a cough that only a long-time smoker could perform. While I was stupor in bed, Brock came rushing into our bedroom. Enthusiastic, yet wary of my condition, he told me that he had found a hiking tour of the Great Wall of China. Even in my state, I was thrilled, we love to hike! We booked the day trip for a few days later… In the meantime, I chugged several cups of athletic greens, in an attempt to manipulate by body into a speedy recovery.
Our guide, dodgy driver, and five other passengers assembled at 9 in the morning for the hike. Our driver weaved through traffic and missed cars and roadside barriers by matter of inches. He would gain speed to slam on his breaks minutes later. After 2.5 hours of this insane driving, we made it to our destination. The gigantic and beautiful The Great Wall of China.
Throughout our strenuous hike, at most we saw a 100 other people in the span of 3 hours! Their were families hiking together. Somehow the children managed to run up and down the stairs, ahead of their parents. They had such energy, that I could never imagine having. Occasionally we’d see a local farmer selling items pre-packaged snacks and drinks. As if it couldn’t have gotten any better, there were even times when Brock and I were hiking by ourselves!
This privacy gave us perfect photo-ops. At every tower, between desperate gasps of air, I was in awe of our surroundings. Looking over the wall, you’d see it cascading off into the distance. The shadows of the far off mountains swallowed the wall. Looking forward it would snake it’s way through the dry hills. The wall may as well have went on for forever.
We do need to make one thing clear, when I say hiking, I mean climbing up and down uneven stairs. You’d climb up 15 stairs to go down 15. This repeated itself over & over. We’d climb into tower ruins and exit out through small passage ways. Their were sections that were magnificently intact as well as crumbling sections. I felt like a real-life Indiana Jones exploring such rustic un-touched beauty.
At the end of the hike, Brock and I did a happy-dance to celebrate our accomplishment. My calves and glute muscles were relieved to be stagnant after that excruciating hike. My IPhone health app reported that we had climbed 160 flights of stairs & walked 15,000 steps. As our crazy driver headed for Beijing, my heart was full and my body was exhausted. I felt pride and joy for our unforgettable experience.
The Weather in February:
Despite climbing in February, the weather was spectacular. There was no snow or ice on the wall. The sun was shining down on us & their wasn’t a gust of wind to be found. If I could have worn nothing but a tank top & my yoga pants, I would have happily done so!
TIP: If there is no wind, pollution will be present. Wind means the sky will be clear and beautiful for your photos.
If your planning your trip around the Great Wall of China, I suggest checking out the weather Here is the average temperature and weather conditions for Beijing throughout the year.
To view the 7 day forecast for Jingshanling go to this website.
The Great Wall of China Hike 1-day Hike Specifics:
- We climbed from the Jinshanling tower to Simatai West tower. It’s a total of a 3.7 mile hike.
- What type of physical shape should you be in to climb the Great Wall? Intermediate. You essentially have to be able to climb up and down stairs for three hours. Although you can go slowly, it has to be accomplished in a certain amount of time.
- Although the day hike was described as having a tour guide, it was essentially a self-guided tour. Our tour guide gave us information during both car rides, but she opted out from participating in the hike (reasonably so).
Plan Your Hike:
- How to find a hike:
- Chat with your hostel or hotel about recommendations.
- Research on TripAdvisor for either a private or group tour.
- When you’re searching for a hike, take into consideration if they intentionally bring you to textile stores afterwards. After a long day of hiking, this can be obnoxious because the stores clearly want to make a sale off of you.
- There are a few different options for hikes… You can do a 1 day hike, multi-day hike with camping, or hire your own guide.
- 1 day hike we met our tour at 9 a.m. and returned to Beijing at 5:30 p.m. The hike lasted approximately 3 hours. I would have preferred at least four hours. I felt rushed to finish on time and would have liked to take in the sights a little bit more.
- For a multi-day hike with camping, expect to hike around 4 hours the first day and then 6 hours the second day. This is completely self-guided, allowing you to go as slow or as fast as you’d like.
- If you have 3-4 people that want to do the hike, hire a private guide. This way you can have flexibility with how long you spend at the wall. You can find private guides on TripAdvisor.
- If you’d like to D.I.Y. Hike, consider taking a local bus.
- This article tells you how to do it.
Packing for The Great Wall of China:
- Pack adequate amounts of water & a light lunch. For example: protein bars, hard boiled eggs, and nuts.
- Layer your clothing. Wear a tank top, zip-up, and jacket. Wear a pair of yoga pants and some thin hiking socks that protect your ankles. You wont need a winter hat or mittens.
- Wear shoes with grip. There are two specific HILLS during the hike that are extremely slippery & steep. Tennis shoes will be just fine. I personally wore my sturdy winter boots and they worked nicely.
- Pack Sunscreen, the sun can get intense up that high.
What I Wish I Had Known:
I wish I had known that you could camp on the Great Wall! Unfortunately, I didn’t know camping was a thing until after our trip was planned and set in stone… It’s okay though, I don’t think February is camping weather anyway.
Hiking the Great Wall of China was equally physically strenuous and stunningly magnificent.
It’s enormity and beauty is a travel memory that I will cherish for the rest of my life!
I was floored by it’s enormity and by our life. Our fortune and hunger for adventure led us to visiting The Great Wall of China! The Great Wall was not your typical Sunday Funday activity.
Do I recommend hiking the Great Wall of China? Hell yes!
To hear our live chat about the Great Wall of China, visit my Youtube Page!
I hope that our experience hiking the Great Wall of China inspires you to create and live by your bucket list! Your list can be as crazy or tame as you’d like. It’s all about trying new things & being proud of your accomplishments at the end of your life.
If you haven’t already, check out my page dedicated to creating a kick ass bucket list! You can find free templates to create your own as well as browse mine! Find it here.
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Don’t forget to read my related post: Chinese New Year in Fushun, China