How to Trek the Full Length of the Great Wall of China

How to Trek the Full Length of the Great Wall of China
Many travel companies offer day trips to the Great Wall of China. Some even offer week-long hiking trips along the more intact segments. But hikers looking to follow the Great Wall's entire 1,800-mile path from the Gobi Desert to the Yellow Sea will have to go it alone. It's up to them to obtain their travel permits, pitch their tents and navigate a foreign culture. Still, from unexpected local hospitality to breathtaking, solitary vistas, the rewards of this kind of travel are known only to those who take the risk.

Instructions

Difficulty: Challenging

Things You’ll Need:
  • Travel permits Hiking backpack Sleeping bag Hiking boots Warm- and cold-weather clothes Maps and guidebooks Chinese phrasebooks
  • Travel permits
  • Hiking backpack
  • Sleeping bag
  • Hiking boots
  • Warm- and cold-weather clothes
  • Maps and guidebooks
  • Chinese phrasebooks
Step 1
The Great Wall passes by several important Chinese military installations, so travelers will need to obtain special permits from the Chinese government to hike all 1,800 miles. Be sure to deal with the Chinese Embassy directly when it comes to permit requirements, as regulations might be more extensive than those covered by private travel or visa services. Visitors might need to hire a Chinese guide to obtain travel permits. Visa applications can take months to process, so be sure to begin planning well in advance of your departure. Contact the Chinese embassy at http://www.china-embassy.org/eng/default.htm
Step 2
Plan a route, including stopping points where food and water can be purchased. This kind of planning is especially important in the Gobi desert portion of the trip, where tourist resources are few and far between. Set a loose schedule (round to the nearest week) for your arrival in each stopping point. Share this schedule with a friend you can contact on your arrival. It's important to have an outside source looking out for the safety and progress of your trip.
Step 3
Pack gear for weather conditions ranging from the hot Gobi Desert in the west to the mountainous territory around Shanhaiguan in the east. Be sure to leave room for food and water in your packs--and be sure not to bring so much that you're weighted down by your luggage. Online resources such as http://www.backpacking-guide.com/ can help you achieve a sensible level of preparation, as can the employees at any reputable outdoor store.
Step 4
Begin your trek. This is where all that advanced preparation gets put to the test--and where much of it probably flies out the window! The journey typically takes three to five months. Most travelers walk the wall west to east, since its rewarding to end with a vista of the Pacific Ocean, but walking the wall in either direction will be a rewarding test of your mental and physical determination.

Tips & Warnings

 
1. Go easy on yourself! Hiking halfway across China is strenuous. If the going turns out to be slower than you had expected, send the person monitoring your trip a revised schedule and continue on at a pace that is comfortable for you. 2. The structure we call The Great Wall of China is actually a series of walls built between the 5th century BC and the 16th century AD. Be sure to fully research the wall's many incarnations so that you can fully appreciate the historical crosscurrents you encounter on your journey. 3. Even with the best advanced planning, you may find you've packed more than you need. Don't hesitate to discard equipment you're not using. 4. Take some time to get acquainted with local language and customs before you leave. The more you make contact with locals, the richer and easier your journey will be.
 
1. Go easy on yourself! Hiking halfway across China is strenuous. If the going turns out to be slower than you had expected, send the person monitoring your trip a revised schedule and continue on at a pace that is comfortable for you.
 
2. The structure we call The Great Wall of China is actually a series of walls built between the 5th century BC and the 16th century AD. Be sure to fully research the wall's many incarnations so that you can fully appreciate the historical crosscurrents you encounter on your journey.
 
3. Even with the best advanced planning, you may find you've packed more than you need. Don't hesitate to discard equipment you're not using.
 
4. Take some time to get acquainted with local language and customs before you leave. The more you make contact with locals, the richer and easier your journey will be.
 
1. Heatstroke and dehydration are real risks on long-distance hikes. If someone in your party begins to look worse for wear, don't hesitate to seek medical attention. Avoid traveling during the heat of the day. Early morning and late afternoon are the best times for desert travel.
 
1. Heatstroke and dehydration are real risks on long-distance hikes. If someone in your party begins to look worse for wear, don't hesitate to seek medical attention. Avoid traveling during the heat of the day. Early morning and late afternoon are the best times for desert travel.

Article Written By Brendan Pelsue

Brendan Pelsue began writing in 2005. His articles have been published in the journal of the Actors Theatre of Louisville and the "College Hill Independent." He graduated from Brown University with a Bachelor of Arts in literary arts in 2008.

Don't Miss a Thing!

All our latest outdoor content delivered to your inbox once a week.

FREE UPDATES

Subscribe

We promise to keep your email address safe and secure.