Walking the Great Wall

9 days
from
$1,649 USD
incl. taxes
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4.6 / 5 from 124 reviews
Walking & Trekking
Suitable for:
Age 16+
Activity level:
Moderate / Challenging
Activity Rating - Moderate/Challenging
Trip code: 
TCW
Ways to Travel:
Guided Group, Tailor Made Adventures
Activity:
Walking & Trekking
Group size:
5–16
Min age:
16

Walk one of the seven wonders of the world

Stepping out across the peaceful semi-ruin of a section of the Great Wall is like walking in the footsteps of the past. Far from the tourist crowds we are able to get a great sense of the scale and majesty of this remarkable piece of engineering without rushing through in a big group. We trek along various contrasting sections of the wall, both dilapidated and rebuilt stretches. The old portions have a romantic feel, but the new ones may look odd to people who are used to seeing their ancient monuments in a poor state, though since the wall was constructed over a 2000 year period, the new sections are just a continuation of that process. We will get closer to day-to-day life in rural China before returning to Beijing, a city steeped in history yet plunging headlong into modernity.

Highlights

  • Trek alongside mountains on lesser-visited parts of the wall
  • Experience rural life first hand in little villages
  • Guided tour or Beijing's 'hutongs', Tiananmen Square & the Forbidden City
  • Possibility to add Terracotta Warrior extension

Key information

  • 5 nights basic hotels and 3 nights standard hotel
  • 6 days point-to-point walking with full porterage
  • Group normally 4 to 16 plus tour leader and local staff. Min. age 16 yrs
  • Low altitude; maximum 1044m, average 600m
  • Travel by private minibus 
  • Free transfers for any flight
  • Countries visited: China

What's included

  • All breakfasts, 6 lunches and 6 dinners included
  • All accommodation 
  • All transport and listed activities
  • Tour leader throughout
  • Flights from London (if booking incl. flights)
  • Arrival & departure transfers

What's not included

  • Travel insurance
  • Single accommodation (available on request)
  • Chinese Visa - GBP201 with Travcour or GBP151 plus GBP18 special delivery direct with embassy
  • Vaccinations
Call for general departures:
1 844 227 9087
Call for tailor made trips:
1 800 267 3347
Trip Notes

Click on the button below for detailed Trip Notes containing all the particulars about this trip, including kit lists and practical information.

Note: these can vary by departure; you can check out the specific Trip Notes for your chosen adventure on the dates & prices page.

6

Days of Walking & Trekking
Pace:

Approximately 5-7 hours walking per day

Terrain:

Low altitude; undualting paths, some rocky sections

Day by day breakdown
Day 26.0km/3.7miles
Day 313.0km/8.0miles
Day 48.0km/5.0miles
Day 59.0km/5.6miles
Day 68.0km/5.0miles
Day 73.0km/1.9miles

Responsible Travel

Tourism can be a real help to local communities, providing income, positive cultural exchanges and a financial incentive to protect their natural environment. Ours is a 'total approach' to responsible tourism, covering everything from the way we plan and operate our trips to the practices of Exodus as a company. 

As much as possible, we try to use accommodations that are locally owned or at least employs local staff and uses local produce. This ensures that our visit directly benefits the local community by providing them job opportunities and a chance to generate income. Water is especially important and whilst we must stay hydrated, it is also vital to not cause too much waste from single use plastic bottles. Hence, we provide large water containers so that clients can refill their reusable water bottles.

The highlight of the trip is the Great Wall which was built in the Ming dynasty hence, more precaution is taken to ensure that we do not cause harm to the environment and the wall itself especially when some areas of brickwork are fairly fragile and loose. We visit the Gubeikou section of the Great Wall which has never been reconstructed, allowing it to retain its original beauty. Our tour leaders are very careful to make sure that the group does not leave anything behind or destruct the wall in any way.

In March 2019, Exodus Travels launched the Exodus Travels Foundation where we support initiatives all around the world. But it cannot exist without travellers who care. Get involved or learn more about what Responsible Travel means to Exodus here

Itinerary

Beijing
to
Beijing
  • Day 1

    Arrive Beijing; free afternoon and Beijing duck dinner

    After arriving into Beijing, the afternoon is free to relax after the overnight flight. There is a welcome dinner organised for the group allowing us to sample one of the cities most famous dishes: Beijing duck. Vegetarians, do not fear - there will be an array of different dishes on a lazy Susan to choose from.

    Dong Fang Hotel or similar

    Meals included: Breakfast Dinner
  • Day 2

    Drive to Huanghuacheng Great Wall section; afternoon begin trekking.

    This morning we leave the capital and head into the countryside to the Great Wall, a 2-2.5 hour journey to the north west of the city. We reach the lesser-visited section at Huanghuacheng, which has an incredibly picturesque location by a lake. The name Huanhuacheng translates as 'Yellow Flower City', as during the summer the surrounding mountains are swathed in yellow as the local wild flowers come into bloom. The walk today is relatively challenging and with uneven topography, but the views are worth every effort! We will spend the night in a guesthouse close to this section of the wall.

    Huanghuacheng Guesthouse or similar

    Meals included: Breakfast Lunch Dinner
  • Day 3

    Morning trek from Mutianyu to Jiankou, passing many watchtowers.

    Today we take a short drive (1-1.5 hours) to Mutianyu. At this lesser-visited section, the Wall is an impressive sight indeed, snaking off across mountains and valleys into the distance. As one of the best-preserved parts of the Great Wall, the Mutianyu section used to serve as the northern barrier defending the capital and the imperial tombs. There are 22 watchtowers (20 of which are open to the public) on this 2,250-metre-long section. We trek to Jiankou and then transfer a short distance to enjoy the hospitality of a local guesthouse.

    Hai Yan Guesthouse or similar

    Meals included: Breakfast Lunch Dinner
  • Day 4

    A challenging but beautiful morning trek at Jiankou’s ‘wild’ wall; transfer to Gubeikou and explore this section.

    The Jiankou wild wall section was built along a mountain edge and remains completely wild, with towers clinging impossibly to the steepest of ridges. Highlights of the day include "Spiderman Wall", or "Sanshibadeng" in Chinese; an optional short vertical climb to the top of the wall for a panoramic view (those who are not a fan of climbing/heights can walk around and regroup at the viewpoint). This area is the most photographed section of the Great Wall due to the unique construction style combined with stunning scenery. We walk along this portion for approx. 4 km before transferring to Gubeikou where we walk or about another 4 km.

    Mr Liu's Guesthouse or similar

    Meals included: Breakfast Lunch Dinner
  • Day 5

    Hike the Great Wall Jinshanling section; transfer back to Gubeikou.

    Today we walk the length of the Jinshanling Great Wall section (from Zhuandoukou Tower to Eastern Five Window Tower), which is renowned for being the best-preserved part of the Great Wall and dates from the Ming Dysnasty (1368-1644). This section reaches seven metres high and six metres wide and incorporates five main passes, sixty-seven watchtowers and two beacon towers as it zig-zags its way through the Big and Small Jinshan Mountains (the Big and Small Jinshan Watchtowers are the highlight). The construction is of huge bricks, each weighing around 12 kilograms (26 pounds) and this section features various structures which were used for an array of functions ranging from weapon stores to soldiers’ bedrooms. 

    At the end of the day, we descend to a village and transfer by road to Gubeikou for the night. 

    Mr Liu's Guesthouse or similar

    Meals included: Breakfast Lunch Dinner
  • Day 6

    The most challenging walk today along the Panlongshan section; return to Gubeikou for the night.

    Today we hike along Gubeikou's Panlongshan Section. This portion keeps the original essence of the wall and will transport us back to the time of the Han Dynasty. We will pass many watchtowers until we reach the unique 24 Window Tower (3 level tower). Once here, we will have a late picnic lunch on the watchtower, and then double back on ourselves for about half the way, following the stone steps past a communal playground to meet our driver who will transfer us back to the guesthouse.

    Mr Liu's Guesthouse or similar

    Meals included: Breakfast Lunch Dinner
  • Day 7

    Majiagou Hill walk with views of Crouching Tiger Great Wall; drive to Beijing via Niangniang Temple.

    Today you will discover the part of Gubeikou's Great Wall known as, Majiagou Hill. Gubeikou's GW was first built in the 6th century and has not been reconstructed since 1644. It is somewhat dilapidated but it still retains its original beauty. Your steep ascent will start from the northern gate and once you reach the top watchtower you will enjoy some great views of Crouching Tiger Great Walll. We retrace our steps back to today's starting point and drive to Niangniang Daoist Temple for a visit before continuing to Beijing (approx. 3 hours).

    Dong Fang Hotel or similar

    Meals included: Breakfast Lunch
  • Day 8

    Beijing city tour visiting hutongs, Tiananmen Square and the Forbidden City.

    We take a morning walking tour of the city's hutongs (narrow alleys) to see what is left of old Beijing and its traditions. We also visit Tian’anmen Square; the largest in the world and able to hold over a million people. Later in the day, we visit the Forbidden City with its innumerable courtyards and temples. 

    This evening, recommended optional activities include the amazing Beijing opera or a Kung Fu show, or you may prefer to opt for a foot reflexology treatment to sooth your weary feet! The leader will also arrange a farewell dinner (optional).

    Beijing is a fantastic place to explore at your own pace; if you wish to add on any additional time please speak to your sales consultant at the time of booking.

    Dong Fang Hotel or similar

    Meals included: Breakfast
  • Day 9

    End Beijing

    Our trips ends today in Beijing after breakfast.

    Meals included: Breakfast
Trip Notes

Click on the button below for detailed Trip Notes containing all the particulars about this trip, including kit lists and practical information.

Note: these can vary by departure; you can check out the specific Trip Notes for your chosen adventure on the dates & prices page.

Extend Your Trip

Xian extension

Code: XCW

Extend your adventure with our perfectly designed Xian extension.

 The ancient city of Xi'an is best known for the Terracotta Warriors; an international symbol of China's long and storied history. Whilst the historical ruins, museums and cultural relics are major draws for the many tourists that visit Xi'an, the city also offers some excellent cuisine, vibrant night markets and the chance to cycle along the imposing city walls.

This extension offers an opportunity to see it all. You will take an overnight train from Beijing and enjoy 2 full days in Xi'an, with plenty of time to see the major sights. You will be met off your overnight train from Beijing by a local guide, who will accompany you on the Terracotta Warrior visit and city tour. In the evening you will have free time to relax, or explore Xi'an's exciting night markets and sample the delicious local cuisine. The detailed itinerary can be found here

Please ask your sales consultant for more details.

Essential Info

Visas

China

Nearly all nationalities require a visa to enter China, which must be obtained prior to departure. The Chinese authorities now require a letter from Exodus, confirming all your accommodation details. Along with this, you need to supply a copy of your flight details, which are on your invoice if you have booked directly through Exodus. For further information see here. It is also essential that we have a clear copy of the details page of your passport. This is required to book certain ground services in China and we cannot confirm your details with our local partners until it has been received. This must be emailed as an electronic scan to [email protected] a minimum of 8 weeks prior to your trip.

IMPORTANT: Please note that all visa applicants aged between 14 and 70 will need to visit one of the Chinese Visa Application Service Centres in person (appointment required) where biometric data will be taken as part of the visa application process.

Vaccinations

China

There are no mandatory vaccination requirements. Recommended vaccinations are: Polio, Tetanus, Diphtheria, Typhoid, Hepatitis A. The risk of malaria is slight but you may wish to consult your GP or travel health clinic for further advice.

If your trip visits Hong Kong, dengue fever is a known risk - this is a tropical viral disease spread by daytime biting mosquitoes. There is currently no vaccine or prophylaxis available, and therefore the best form of prevention is to avoid being bitten: apply insect repellent and wear long-sleeved shirts and trousers.

Eating and Drinking

All breakfasts, 6 lunches and 6 dinners are included. Food is cheap in China and you can avoid the spicier regional food if you wish. The cuisine on this trip is fantastically varied with lots of new flavours and 'things' to try.

Gastronomically the trip can be divided into two parts: 'tourist hotels' and 'local hotels'. In tourist hotels the breakfast is normally a buffet, with a huge spread of Chinese and western food, including coffee, juice, breads, cakes, fruit, eggs, bacon and a wide variety of noodle and stir fried dishes. Dinners are normally taken in the hotel or local restaurants, serving rice with assorted vegetables, pork, fish, chicken and duck dishes with flavours roughly approximating those you would find in a Chinese restaurant in the UK. In the local hotels, breakfast includes rice porridge, dumplings, eggs, noodles, etc, however, we tend to augment this with fruit and cakes where available. Dinners are taken in local restaurants where the food is heavily flavoured with ginger, garlic bamboo shoots and chilli. Lunches are taken in local village restaurants and will normally consist of noodle soup or stir fried vegetable noodles. Expect an audience most lunches as the locals crowd around to watch the 'big noses' trying to master the use of chopsticks!

Vegetarians are well catered for but please inform us before departure of any special dietary requests. Please note that in China the availability of certain specialized products for restricted diets, e.g. gluten-free or dairy-free, is minimal or non-existent and we strongly recommend you bring these specialized dietary items from home. Strict vegetarians may find the diet rather limited to stir fried vegetables and eggs as all the soups are made with meat stock.

Weather

The north of China has warm (25 deg C), quite humid summers, and cold dry winters. If you travel between June and August, it will be hot more or less everywhere, except in the mountains. Some rain must be expected, possibly heavy. If you travel in September/October, you will probably get less rain and the temperatures will be fairly warm (around 20 deg C) everywhere. The winter months in China are cold, so if travelling in March/April be prepared for temperatures to drop, below (10 deg C), at night, but with almost guaranteed dry sightseeing.

Is this trip for you?

This trip is classified as grade 4 - moderate/challenging.

6 days walking, with full and half-day walks with vehicle support, and low altitude throughout; maximum 1044m.

Please note that the Chinese authorities can occasionlly close off sections of the Great Wall at short notice, in which case your leader will try to offer an alternative walk. 

We strongly recommend that you thoroughly read the Exodus grading system as outlined in the Walking & Trekking Brochure before booking this trip. You will need to be confident in your physical ability to attempt this trek.

Walking Conditions

Daily distances are not long but some sections are narrow and overgrown and there are some sections where you will need to use your hands. The wall has deteriorated due to earthquakes and heavy rain in recent years and some parts may vary from trek to trek. There are a couple of hilly days and most days will involve some up and down. Some of the restored areas have very steep steps.

Parts of the wall we walk on are generally in good condition, between about 5 and 7 metres high and approx. 4 to 5 metres wide but a lot of sections can be steep, and are in poor condition with loose rocks and flagstones.

Accommodation

We spend 5 nights in varying basic hotels and in basic guesthouses/homestays, as the sections of wall we visit are well away from tourist style hotels. You should be prepared for these conditions and bad roads on this trip in order to get away from the usual crowds in China.

Following a review of all our trips we have categorised this trip as generally not suitable for persons of reduced mobility. However if you are a regular traveller on such trips, please contact customer services to discuss the trip and your personal condition.

Call for general departures:
1 844 227 9087
Call for tailor made trips:
1 800 267 3347
Trip Notes

Click on the button below for detailed Trip Notes containing all the particulars about this trip, including kit lists and practical information.

Note: these can vary by departure; you can check out the specific Trip Notes for your chosen adventure on the dates & prices page.

Accommodation

Hotels & Guesthouses

You will spend 3 nights in a well located comfortable hotel in Beijing and 5 nights in basic guesthouses whilst on trek.  Please be aware that accommodation options are limited on trek and the guesthouses are basic mountain accommodations but rooms are twin share and have en suite bathrooms. The bathrooms are equipped with Western toilets and there is hot water (although erratic and somewhat unreliable). It can get cold in the mountains and the guesthouses have no central heating but sleeping bags are not required as blankets are provided and the guesthouses usually have a few electric heaters, which are available upon request. There is electricity but there can occasionally be power cuts so a torch may come in handy. The itinerary is designed so that we spend three nights in Gubeikou, which is the better standard of the guesthouses on this trek. 

Call for general departures:
1 844 227 9087
Call for tailor made trips:
1 800 267 3347
Trip Notes

Click on the button below for detailed Trip Notes containing all the particulars about this trip, including kit lists and practical information.

Note: these can vary by departure; you can check out the specific Trip Notes for your chosen adventure on the dates & prices page.

Experts

Contact a member of staff who has done this trip

Call for general departures:
1 844 227 9087
Call for tailor made trips:
1 800 267 3347
Trip Notes

Click on the button below for detailed Trip Notes containing all the particulars about this trip, including kit lists and practical information.

Note: these can vary by departure; you can check out the specific Trip Notes for your chosen adventure on the dates & prices page.

Expert Blog Entries

  • Reviewed November 2019
    Julia P

    A lovely introduction to the Great Wall of China

    The Great Wall is even more mind-blowing than in your imagination and doing this fantastic trip at the end of October is a great time to see it. We had beautiful autumn colours, with pleasant, warm days and slightly cooler mornings and evenings, and it's not crowded with visitors. It's suitable for people who are fit and enjoy walking, but it's most definitely not a trek, so if that's your thing you may not enjoy it as much as we did. You get to visit different parts of the wall - from the restored and more touristy, to completely wild and unrestored and we appreciated seeing these different facets. The toboggan at Mutianyou is a hoot so it's well worth giving yourself time to fit that in. The food was good quality and varied (though see below if you're veggie).The hotel in Beijing (Golden Sun Commercial Hotel) was very nice; a little away from the city centre but we enjoyed wandering the local hutongs, parks and temples and we easily got into town via the subway (Guang'anmennei station is an easy walk from the hotel).

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    The highlight was undoubtedly the sections at Jiankou and Panlongshan, really beautiful and well away from the crowds. They were also the most steep and challenging, but eminently doable if you have a reasonable level of fitness - you get to challenge yourself and work as a group.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Jack was lovely, he was helpful and considerate and looked after us really well. He sorted out little extras like a Kung Fu show, tea ceremony, paper cutting and even making dumplings at a homestay. He even arranged for us to have a Chinese massage in our hotel, which helped with our stiff legs!

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    There's lots to see in Beijing in the free time available and the subway is very easy to use (in English as a well as Chinese) so don't duplicate what you'll see on day 9. As a vegetarian I found the food better than I expected but not always very substantial. I was never hungry but ate a lot of cabbage, spinach or courgette with rice. By the last day of walking I felt quite tired and came back 1 kg lighter than I arrived. It's not a problem but do consider taking some protein bars, nuts etc. for a bit of a boost. Food at the Mutianyou homestay was the best with lots of good and varied veggie options. You won't be able to access Google, Twitter, BBC or the Guardian but we found that WhatsApp worked (though not for photos) and we managed to keep up with the news headlines as much as we wanted.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    The itinerary didn't seem to match what we did - the distances were significantly shorter than indicated on a couple of days. We did the Xi'an extension and enjoyed seeing a contrasting city (which did feel quite different). The train ride there was fun and comfortable. Our guide Mrs Ling was informative and an interesting contrast to Jack. The Terracotta Army is well worth seeing but be prepared for some jostling by the crowds. We had a dumpling banquet at a very touristy place but the food was good - choose the veggie ones - they were very tasty and beautifully presented!
  • Reviewed November 2019
    Cathérine Delnooz

    Not off the beaten path, mainly just strolls

    In part beautiful walks over wall and with views. In part disappointment: strolls, not off the beaten path, no local rural life.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Walk at Gubeiko and Juankou are great!

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Jack: touristy leader, good English, does not follow itinerary - lunch is more important than hike.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Do not go on this trip if you want an all off the beaten holiday. Day 2-3-7 are a real disappointment. There is no real experience of local life in villages. Hikes are often just strolls and much shorter than stated in the itinerary.
  • Reviewed August 2019

    Great trip, great company and a plenty of sticky rice!!!

    Excellent trip from beginning to end and thoroughly recommend it. This was my third Exodus trip and I can not recommend Exodus enough as a travel company!

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    The Great Wall of China is truly amazing. Approximately 90% of the time we were on the less touristy sections of the wall with our group being the only people on the wall. To have one of the wonders of the world all to yourself is something not many can say and was really special I thought. Even though walking along the restored sections was beneficial in understanding how the wall looked a few hundred years ago - or in 'Mulan' - I really enjoyed walking along the original/unrestored parts as it gave you a sense of the history regarding the wall but also the people who worked/served on it.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Jerry!!! This was my third exodus trip and like all Exodus guides I have met, Jerry clearly loved his country as he was very passionate and knowledgeable about all things Chinese ranging from culture, food, history and language. Jerry had a good sense of humour which ensured a positive group atmosphere throughout.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Don't be fooled by the distances listed in the trip notes. It may look as if the distances are quite short if you are a keen walker, however the constant up and down of - at times steep - steps in almost constant 30+ heat and 90% humidity ensured it is challenging even for one who may consider themselves very fit. I took a pair of walking boots and trail-running trainers, my advice to future travellers is to take a pair of trainers with good grip because on the one two occasions I wore my boots they were too warm meaning I wore my trail-running trainers for the rest of the time. Also you will need trainers with good grip because the wall is very steep in places and on the one day we had rain the wall was also very slippy! General travel advice, be prepared for plenty of sticky rice and practise using chopsticks before you go if you are afraid of looking like an amateur.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Excellent trip and recommend it to anyone. Even though the trip is mainly about the Great Wall of China, going inside the Forbidden City and walking across Tiananmen Square was memorable as was going to a Taoist temple and seeing all of the offerings given to the Jade Emperor whilst attempting Tai Chi on the Wall!
  • Reviewed August 2019
    Philip Atess

    Fantastic trip

    Another well organised and memorable trip by Exodus. Varied activity and ran very smoothly including transport, accommodation and food. Guide very knowledgeable and passionate about his country. Would definitely recommend.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Walking the various sections of the wall and getting to shake hands and get a signed book from the person who discovered the Terracotta warriors.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Passionate and knowledgeable about his country. Tried his very best to make sure the group enjoyed the trip.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Do the Terracotta extension as you see a more authentic China than Bejieng. Xi-an is much cheaper £3-£4 for huge meal and drink and overnight train journey is certainly an experience. You can get away with shorts on the walks and certainly only need summer walking boots but ensure they have good grip as some sections of the wall are steep. Only take very light waterproofs, Chinese just use umbrellas. Practice using chop sticks before you go.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

  • Reviewed June 2019
    Catharine and David Finn

    Fantastic walking trip

    Fantastic holiday walking the Great Wall .... great group leader and lovely group of people. We both found The Wall absolutely amazing and China is such an interesting country to visit. Would love to go back to visit another part.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    The whole of the wall was more amazing than we imagined but particularly the 28 Towers walk.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Alan was outstanding.....really knowledgeable, enthusiastic and organised. Nothing ever seemed to be a problem or too much trouble as he just sorted things out.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Take toilet roll and hand gel as not always available. Download VPN before you go if you want to access internet as some sites are blocked.
  • Reviewed June 2019
    Peter Kenny

    The Great wall, a great holiday

    An excellent overall experience, really enjoyed the walking, especially the less touristy parts of the wall. The hotel rooms in Beijing and Xi'an were looking a little tired but, they were clean with comfortable beds and good showers. The homesteads were fine with very welcoming hosts. The food overall was very good, although breakfast was a little limited if you like your traditional "English" style to start the day.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Standing on a hilltop and seeing the great wall stretching out for miles over mountain peaks that look so steep that you'd think they would be impossible to climb let alone build a wall over.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Our leader in Beijing was Alan, he really was excellent. Nothing was too much trouble for him, on numerous occasions he went out of his way to help us, I really can't praise him enough. Our guide in Xi'an was Chris, he was OK, nothing more than that.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Having done a number of treks with Exodus don't underestimate the physical challenge that this trip offers. Don't be fooled by the distances in the trip notes, it is very up and down with hundreds and hundreds of steps. When we were there the weather was very hot and that also played a part.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Really enjoyed walking the Great wall and China is a fascinating country to visit.
  • Reviewed May 2019
    Gina Crowcroft

    Great concept but, on this occasion, poorly delivered

    The basic trip concept is excellent. However, a group of 16 with only 1 main group leader was wholly inadequate - it meant that we had a lot of wasted time hanging around for the slowest person and our itinerary was unilaterally changed by the tour leader to ensure that the needs of the slowest person out of 16 was met. Unfortunately this meant that 15 out of 16 people were left short changed and did not get what they paid for. Additionally, most days we were rushed to ensure that the group lunched at a specific restaurant off the wall. Given that people would have signed up for this trip due to an interest in the Wall it seems strange that we were always being rushed everyday to get off the Wall. This meant that most days we could not linger and savour the amazing views nor take our time to get that non-touristy photo! We also had itinerary changes due to local factors. Whilst it is appreciated that these are unavoidable the revised itineraries, each time, resulted in less trekking time never more trekking time - very frustrating and left a feeling that we did not receive what we paid for.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Being on the less touristy parts of the Wall.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Jerry is clearly a lovely guy and a more than adequate tour leader. I think if our group had been more evenly matched re fitness he would have been perfect. However, I believe he was too nice to actually deal with some of the issues on our trek and tried to please everyone but thereby actually not pleasing a significant number of the group. We had our trekking time severely curtailed by a combination of local reasons and a disparity in the speed between the fastest and slowest members of our group but this was not discussed properly with the group and conflicting reasons were given.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Do not underestimate the unrelenting steepness of the Wall trekking. Be prepared for a lot of "wasted" time away from the Wall due to where the restaurants are etc. It would be much better if picnic lunches were provided most days so that time on the Wall could be maximised. Be brave enough to question how the group kitty is used! Our bus driver ended up being tipped a huge amount (the balance of the kitty) due to our guide leader asking in front of the bus driver if it was ok to give him the balance of the kitty - strangely none of us felt that we could object! But we were all wondering why the balance of the kitty was not redistributed to us after a sensible tip taken for the bus driver.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    The itinerary and execution of this trip could be improved by a few simple changes: 1. Packed lunches so that time on the Wall is not rushed 2. Two guides every day so that all members of the group could take as long as they wished on the Wall whether that being walking slowly or taking time to take photographs. 3. More information given about the Wall on a daily basis rather than just the last day 4. Changes to itinerary should always be fully discussed and explained with the group in advance
  • Reviewed May 2019
    Kerry Clough

    Memorable Adventure

    Walking the Great Wall in the less touristy sections (in fact almost no other people at all) together with the Xi'an extension to see the Terracotta Warriors surpassed my expectations. It also opened my eyes to a whole new positive side of China that my preconceived ideas had not imagined. A wide range of walking from the flat in Beijing to the undulating and steep on the Wall, on even paths to shingle and scrambling. Delicious food throughout, far superior and less salty than in the UK and friendly, curious locals. Topped off by an absolutely superb Leader/Guide Jerry, whose infectious enthusiasm, wide knowledge of all things Chinese, sense of humour and ability to tell jokes in English made for a truly memorable experience.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Walking the Wall in the quiet sections was spectacular as it weaved its way into the distance over undulating hills with forts on top for as far as you could see. Feeling like we had it all to ourselves most days.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Outstanding. Fluent English, infectious enthusiasm and love of China, friendly approachable personality, ability to assess the trekking ability of all of the tour participants and make adjustments to the walks as appropriate, which in most cases for our group was to seek acceptance from all to walk further than the Tour Notes suggested. He was funny, extremely helpful, organised things to do in the evenings if you wanted to participate like Chinese dumpling making and watching and participating in Chinese paper cutting. He also had a good line in English jokes once he knew the group was open to such banter.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Do the Xi'an extension and walk or cycle the full 14km of the city wall. It is in fantastic condition and affords great panoramic views of the old city inside the wall. For me it was just as good to do as seeing the Terracotta warriors, which I suggest you get to by 9am as the hordes descended by 9:30 and made for a more stressful viewing experience!

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Don't be put off by the long winded Chinese Visa Application process. if you are open minded your experience on this tour in China will pay you back many fold. Go!
  • Reviewed May 2019
    Jo Harthan

    One of the best trips

    Fabulous trip but, as with all Exodus holidays, the success is dependent on the tour guide. We had Jerry and he was faaaantastic! What a guy! Knowledgeable, committed and with a wonderful sense of humour. Thank you Jerry - you made the trip gloriously memorable.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Walking the Great Wall in the mountains with hardly anyone else in sight. Great opportunity for silent meditation whilst walking.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Jerry was fantastic. Knowledgeable, funny, energetic and an amazing, last-minute organiser despite difficulties caused by a large Beijing conference.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    If you only consider yourself moderately fit, I would recommend doing a bit of training before the holiday to avoid stiff legs in the morning. Parts of the wall are exceptionally steep, both up and down, and the trip involves walking for 6 consecutive days. And if you go in April, be prepared for all weathers - we had freezing temperatures and sleet one day.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    If you're hesitating - don't. Just do it. I just wish it had been longer. Also, for those fellow GFs - the food was fabulous and the dishes containing wheat were few. I don't eat Chinese in the UK but the food on this trip was nothing like the UK offerings and was really nice - and lots of it.
  • Reviewed November 2018
    Anthony Peake

    Walking The Great Wall

    Most enjoyable trip accompanied by a fun group of fellow walkers and an enthusiastic guide. Would have been 5* BUT a lazy attitude by, i take it, the local tour operator who when given months notice of one of the days hiking having to be altered due to a closed/dangerous section only replaced it with a makeshift day.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Seeing the mass of people on Tienanmen Square on a public holiday

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Enthusiastic and Knowledgeable

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