12-day Great Wall Trekking Eco Tour for Students

Highlights:

  • Explore the eastern part Great Wall from the sea all the way to Beijing
  • Gain a greater understanding of the Great Wall’s strategic and military importance, as well as it’s architecture
  • Visit sections not well known to western tourists
  • Free Airport pick-up and drop off service
  • Decent four-star hotel accommodation at Beijing Guangxi Hotel
  • Learn about China's rural life while staying in local farmer's houses at the foot of Great Wall.
  • Visit China's model ecological park by the famous beach of Nandaihe and have a 100% eco lunch.
  • Perfect for charity trek or school event

(B=breakfast, L=lunch, D=dinner)

Detailed itinerary:

Day 1 Arrive in Beijing

Our representative will meet you at Beijing International Airport and drive you into the city to your hotel, the Guangxi Hotel. At around 7pm, our guide will give you a briefing on the tour ahead, and the rest of the night is up to you. If you are lucky to arrive on Friday, you’ll have to chance to watch a fantastic free one-hour Chinese minority group dance show in the Guangxi Hotel lobby starting at 8 pm.

Overnight in Beijing.

Day 2 Huanghuacheng to Xishuiyu

Huanghuacheng to Xishuiyu (All meals included, 4 hours of hiking)

In the morning your guide will pick you up from your hotel, and you will be driven directly to Hunaghuacheng. We’ll see the gorgeous Great Wall along the water –a unique snapshot of the Great Wall that can only be found here at Huanghuacheng! After that, we will start our hike westward to Xishuiyu. The highest point of the Wall is a broken watchtower, and from there you will have a wide panoramic view of the whole valley. From this summit the Wall dives steeply downwards into the valley.

From here, we will continue to trek westward, climbing towards the broken wall to our destination, a peak overlooking Xishuiyu Lake. It is here that we will stop for a filling and refreshing lunch that will replenish your energy. From our vantage point, we will see a real treat, the broken wall running underwater! From this point, the wall is in too bad a condition to walk, so we will follow a delightful mountain trail to Xishuiyu village, where we will stay overnight.

In this local village you can chat with the locals. This is a great way to learn about the real China. Compared to Beijing, it’s hard to get a grip on the true character of the Chinese people.

Day 3 Jiankou-Mutianyu-Gubeikou

Jiankou-Mutianyu-Gubeikou (All meals included, 4-5 hours of hiking)

Our hiking will end on a high note as we will be visiting most hikers’ favourite section of the Great Wall. In order to hike on Jiankou, we first have to climb up a path for about an hour 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 we will enjoy the dramatic views it affords. As soon as we reach Jiankou we will see the deserted watchtower, the spot which gives you a panoramic view of the entire valley. In the early morning mist the view is priceless. This section of the wall is not well known by tourists, although if you see a picture of the Great Wall from exotic travel photos, 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, as eagles and hawks often perch on it. Although small trees and brambles are slowly conquering the majestic wall, 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 received 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 British Prime Minister John Major and U.S. President Clinton visited Mutianyu on one of his trips to China.

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 backdrop. In the afternoon, we will visit a farmer’s house in Panlongshan (Dragon Mount) to try our hand at some traditional activities such as paper cutting, working on a grain mill, and grain picking. We will stay overnight at the farm.

Day 4 Panlongshan

Panlongshan (All meals included, 3 hours of hiking)

After breakfast, we’ll hike from Panlongshan (Dragon Mount) for about three hours. We’ll have lunch in the Meizhou restaurant.

We’ll go back to the farmer’s house in Panlongshan (Dragon Mount) to learn how to make Jiaozi (dumplings) for our dinner. We’ll overnight here again.

Day 5 Gubeikou-Jinshanling-Huangyaguan

Gubeikou-Jinshanling-Huangyaguan (All meals included, 4-5 hours of hiking)

Today we will hike for around 10 km/6 miles. Gubeikou is covered with over 140 watchtowers, all differing in size and design. From the wall here you will be able to witness how the wall twists and winds along the steep mountain ranges. This is as dramatic a view on the Great Wall as you’ll find. If the weather is clear, you will be able to see the shimmering blue lake of the Miyun Reservoir. There is a section on the wall that is part of a military base, so you will be able to walk and explore a quaint nearby local village and re-enter the wall at Jinshanling.

Much of the hiking that we will do on Jinshanling today is relatively easy, as much of the wall here is restored and the surface smooth. Jinshanling has five main passes and 67 watchtowers. Every 100 meters (328 feet), there is an enemy tower each of which is about ten meters (33 feet) high. Featuring various structures and having various functions, those watchtowers are either one tiered or two-tiered. Among them, the most celebrated are the Big and Small Jinshan Watchtowers. The Wangjinglou Tower, the General Tower, the Black Tower and the Taochun Tower are also must-sees on the Jinshanling Great Wall. Each tower has its legend. Legend has it that the stone bars used to build the Wangjinglou Tower were carried to the mountaintop by Er Lang Shen, the nephew of the Jade Emperor. The general tower was named to commemorate Wu Guihua, a heroine who sacrificed herself to resist the northern invader's invasion during the Ming Dynasty. The Black Tower and the Taochun Tower were christened to commemorate two girls, Heigu and Taochun, who made great contributions to the construction of the Great Wall.

We will soon reach the major scenic point of Huangyaguan. Tonight, we'll stay overnight at the Huangyaguan Hostel.

Day 6 Huangyaguan- Qianganjian

Huangyaguan- Qianganjian (All meals included, 5.5 - 6 hours hiking)

After breakfast in the hostel, we will continue our hike on Huangyaguan. We will ascend the steps of "Heaven's Ladder" to gain a bird’s eye view above Huangyaguan. We will follow the route of the Great Wall as it undulates across the mountains before gradually descending into a valley. Huangyaguan is designed as a miniature of the entire Great Wall of China, thereby allowing you get an understanding of the entire wall. 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 a 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.

From here, a vehicle will transport us north to Qianganjian village. We will spend the evening in the village.

Day 7 Sanjiebei-East Qing Tombs

Sanjiebei-East Qing Tombs (All meals included. Hiking for 3.5 hours)

Waking up at 7:30, we’ll hike the Great Wall in Sanjiebei area. Sanjiebei is where the three administrative provinces of Beijing, Hebei and Tianjin intersect. When you get there, you’ve completed half of the journey. Congratulations!

We’ll reach the East Qing Tombs in late afternoon. The Eastern Qing Tombs are 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 arranged based on the traditional concept of placing the most senior and most distinguished in the centre.

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 will 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 royalty.

We’ll stay overnight at the East Qing Tomb Hostel.

Day 8 East Qing Tombs to Dongjiakou

East Qing Tombs to Dongjiakou (All meals included. Hiking only 2.5 hour). By now, we've finished half of the journey.

We'll drive four hours to Dongjiakou. We'll have a lunch first. We'll then start hiking on Dongjiakou Great Wall.

The Dongjiakou (sometimes called Jizhen) Great Wall was initially built in 1381 AD, In 1571AD, Qijiguang, a famous general in the Ming Dynasty transformed it into a first-class border wall. With a length of 8.9 kilometers, this portion of the Great Wall winds its way up and down the Stone Step Mountain, the Damao Mountain, and (finally) the Rock Mountain. It has 2 strategic passes, 31 Watchtowers, 14 Beacon Towers, and three Fortresses: the Pochengzi Fortress, the Dongjiakou Fortress, and Damao Fortress. (Today, only the ruins of the Damao Fortress can be found in the south of Dongjiakou village). Although the Dongjiakou Great Wall of the Ming Dynasty is more than 620 years old, it has remained one of the best-preserved sections of the Great Wall of the Ming Dynasty.

We’ll overnight at a local village at Dongjiakou. The villagers are descendants of the fortress’ original builders, so you could say they continue to guard the Great Wall! You can swim in Xiaohekou (“little creek” in Chinese) and we’ll stay in local farmer’s houses for tonight.

Day 9 Jiaoshan-Sandaoguan-Shanhaiguan

Jiaoshan-Sandaoguan-Shanhaiguan (All meals included. 6-7 hours hiking).

After getting up at 7:30 and eating breakfast, we will make a short drive to the foot of a mountain, disembark, and follow a wild mountain trail to a beautiful valley overlooked by Mount Longevity.

Located five miles northeast of Shanhaiguan Pass, Sandaoguan Great Wall (meaning "Three Passes Great Wall") was built to defend against enemy intrusions in the ancient wars. The wall was strategically important and gives the appearance of a giant dragon surging forward to the top of the cliffs and then suddenly rushing down to the bottom of the valley.

From Sandaoguan, we’ll head for Shanhaiguan Pass, 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. We first continue hiking to the village of Chengziyu village where we will have lunch.

We’ll come across the Shanhaiguan Pass Fortress, which is also known as “The First Pass under Heaven”. We will enter the Shanhaiguan Great Wall Museum, where we will learn about the history and military strategy of this section of wall and the importance of the wall as a staging post for trade and the military.

We will stay overnight at the Jinshan Hotel and have a tasty dinner of Northern Chinese cuisine to get you fueled up for our last hike tomorrow.

Day 10 Dongjiakou-Old Dragon's Head

Dongjiakou-Old Dragon's Head (All meals included. 2-3 hours hiking).

We'll get up at 9 after yesterday's exhaustive hike. We'll drive to Dongjiakou to hike the last portion of the Great Wall to reach our terminal Old Dragon's Head. The Old Dragon’s Head, also known as Laolongtou, is the most eastern beginning 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 is where you can embrace the sea, admiring the beautiful scenery.

Congratulations, heroes! As New China’s founder Chairman Mao proclaimed, “you will never be a hero until you climb the Great Wall!” Now you've made it!

We’ll then drive to Nandaihe, the beautiful beach in Qinhuangdao City to have a good sleep and rest. The Nandaihe Tourist Area is located 19.5 kilometers southeast of Funing County Seat. A bridge above the Daihe River connects Beidaihe with Nandaihe. Its seashore is 17.5 kilometers long and covers an area of 20 square kilometers. Nandaihe has seashore with a wide beach, clear water, soft sands, abundant sunshine, fresh air and a pleasant climate. It is blessed with all the elements of beach tourism, where tourists can enjoy themselves to the full. Nandaihe has become a rising holiday and tourist resort with perfect and functional infrastructure.

The town of Nandaihe is famed for its local seafood, antiques, and bars. You will also have the chance to join and have some fun with the local residents for their night games in the Town Square before you go to bed.

Day 11 Nandaihe-Beijing

Nandaihe-Beijing (Breakfast and Lunch provided)

We’ll wake up at 7 for breakfast. Then we’ll drive to Beidaihe’s famous Ecological Park where you’ll discover how organic vegetables are planted and livestock are fed organically. This park is a fitting example of China’s new found dedication to environmentally healthy and Green industry. You’ll visit a museum where you’ll learn the agricultural methods and practices of farmers from older generations. There are large showrooms that show how natural vegetables, melons, and flowers are made. You’ll even see the world’s largest Gourd, as described by the Guiness World Record book! Learning about this agricultural revolution, you can witness how humans can grow green food while also protecting the environment. You will also have the chance to unwind and have some fun, as the park is actually more than an agricultural base for Green Food but also a recreation center. The Ecological Park features a zip-line, go-cart driving, and other great activities.

You will have a very healthy Green Food lunch by eating the green food harvested from the park. This is a 100% organic lunch that you probably have never had in your life.

After lunch, we’ll drive back to Beijing. At about 5 pm, we’ll lodge at Beijing New Dragon Hostel or a similar hostel.

Day 12 Beijing City Tour – Optional

Beijing City Tour – Optional (Breakfast included)

Today we will meet you at 8.30am at your accommodation and drive directly to Tian’anmen Square.

The largest open public square in the world at 440,000 square meters, Tian’anmen has long been seen as the political centre of China. It was from the Gate of Heavenly Peace overlooking the square where in 1949 Mao Zedong proclaimed the founding of the People’s Republic of China. The Square has seen some turbulent moments, such as the May 4th Movement of 1919 (where Chinese intellectuals protested the transfer of Shandong from the Germans to the Japanese), the protests during the mourning for Premier Zhou Enlai in 1976, and of course the political turmoil of 1989.

After Tian’anmen Square we shall visit the Olympic sites, locally known as the Bird Nest (Beijing National Stadium) and the Water Cube (National Aquatic Centre).

After a simple lunch we shall continue to the Hutong areas of Beijing. The Beijing Hutong (old lane) areas have a very special and important place in the rich history and culture of Beijing.

The alleys give a wonderful glimpse into the world of yesterday in Beijing. While visiting the Beijing Hutong, you can appreciate the dramatic changes that the rest of Beijing has undergone.

By visiting the Houhai Bar Street and chatting with the local people, you will see firsthand the history of Beijing, while also experiencing the old way of life.

We’ll stay at the New Dragon Hostel or a similar hostel again tonight.

Please note that lunch and dinner are not included on this day.

This day is optional and you can book this with our ground agents in Beijing.