The Hike of a Lifetime : Great Wall of China



There is a chinese saying "If you haven't climbed the Great Wall you are not a real hero".
Yes such is the importance of Great Wall of China in the lives of chinese people. Great Wall of China is among one of the seven wonders of the world which will leave you exhausted and ecstatic at the same time. Exhausted because its a tough hike as the wall is very steep.

So finally the car arrived which I was waiting for since early morning in my hotel in Beijing to take me to the Great Wall of China. It was a chilly morning as it had rained heavily the earlier day. Oh i forgot to mention I traveled extensively in China in December ,2012. I soon heard a warm "Hi" and there he was standing, the driver of my car.I jumped into the car to go to the Mutianyu.

Mutianyu and Badaling are the most frequented entry points for Great Wall of China. Mutianyu is relatively far away from Badaling hence has lesser tourists. If you expect that there would be handful of tourists then you are wrong. In the peak season the wall becomes choc a block with tourists and in some places you might be jostling for free space. 
If you are want a relatively free wall then suggest you go very early morning so that you can enter the wall before other tourists arrive or you go in the afternoon when most of the tourists will be ready to return.

The opening hours of Mutianyu Great Wall is as follows :
April - October     : 8:00 Hrs - 17:00 Hrs
November-March : 8:30 Hrs - 16:30 Hrs

The entry free is CNY 45 ( $ 4.5 approx)


After approximately more than an hour drive we reached Mutianyu.It was already 7 am so an hour and a half more to go before the gates open. To my surprise already other tourist buses had already arrived and others were reaching.
Lesson learnt if someone is planning a visit Great wall of china and want a tourist free place then either go to Yulin section or reach there much before 7am.



If you are not planning to climb up the stairs to reach the Great Wall of China , there is always an option to take cable car which will cost you CNY 100 ( $ 14.5 approx) and take you till Watch Tower number 14 from which you can decide which way to go hiking on the great wall of china. I took the cable car to save my energy for the hike on the great wall of china.

So what are the watch towers ? confused? No the Chinese military doesn't watch you from these watch towers to see what you are doing on the great wall of china. When the Great wall of china was built the kings made 23 watch towers across the Mutianyu section of Great Wall of China so that they can keep a watch on the intruders. The watch towers also used at signalling posts and places to store weapons and food for the soldiers. 



Finally the gates of the cable car opened and I was soon a cable car. As soon as the cable car started moving I could see the great wall of china in front of my eyes. I wondered is this happening for real or I was simply day dreaming. Yes, the majestic Great Wall of China was right in front of my eyes for real. Wow it was truly an ecstatic moment. Before I could realize my cable car arrived at Watch Tower no 14 and I was there on the Great Wall of China in person.

After getting out of cable car I decided to hike northward. The hike northward from Watch Tower No 14 to Watch Tower No 23 have the most  beautiful scenery whereas the southward route contains the grand Zhengguan Terrace and Big Corner Tower. If you are thinking that hiking from watch tower 14 to watch tower 23 will be an easy task then you are completely wrong. 

So how does much time will the hike take from watch tower 14 to watch tower 23 ? If you are a seasoned hiker then you can complete the hike anywhere between 45 mins to 1 hour and trust me if you are a beginner then be satisfied if you can hike upto watch tower 17/18. The climb is really steep and should be avoided unless you want have gone to Great wall of china to just hike. If you have managed to reach watch tower no 19 then be you will be greeted by approx 450 steps on the steep slopes of the mountain to go to watch tower no 20. I didn't have the energy to climb up to the watch tower number 20 and I returned.



On you way don't forget to look on your left and right as you will be spellbound by the beautiful scenery all around and if you happen to go there in the spring season you can see varieties of flowers blooming nearby. Take break in between your hike and stop by , take a deep breath and enjoy the surroundings. You will be mesmerized by the grandeur of the Great Wall of China.

Climbing to watch tower no 19 from watch tower no 14 is not an easy task. The great wall of china has very steep steps or slopes. Remember to wear shoes with good grips don't even fancy stilettos or slippers or any other adventurous fashionable shoes  if you want to walk on the great wall of china.You will find lots of souvenir sellers , don't forget to get your name etched on a brass plate with the date you climbed the great wall of china , you will cherish the memento life long. I still have mine displayed in my living room.
If you manage to reach the tower no 23 you will be greeted by the portion of the wall which is not renovated and is dangerous for the tourists.Don't venture beyond watch tower 23 as you will find the great wall of china broken and full of vegetation growing over the walls. 

I left with wonderful memories of the hike and must say its a different hike from all other hikes I have done in my life. The hike at Great Wall of China will always have a special place in my travel memories.

Share your experiences if you have already visited Great Wall of China or let me know how shoestringtravel helped you to plan the hike of a lifetime at Great Wall of China.