I didn’t want to go. “Why go on a tour if we can travel to the Great Wall independently?” I asked. My friend however insisted. “But we won’t be able to experience the wall as described here.” she argued while pointing to a poster saying ‘Leo’s Secret Great Wall Tour’.  I shrugged and gave in.

In ‘BoB vs. …’ I write short stories about adventures & outdoor activities. This time a story about BoB vs. the Great Wall in Beijing, China 

He who has never been to the Great Wall is not a true man. – Ancient Chinese saying

A few days later we went on Leo’s Secret Great Wall tour and after a smooth 2-hour minibus ride we arrived in the Middle Of Nowhere. Honestly, I had no idea (and I still have no idea) where around Beijing we were. However, soon we saw it: The Wall. Epic.

The tour guide escorted us to the first watchtower, and after that we were free to proceed at our own pace. It was simply amazing. The tour had taken us to a ‘secret’ unrestored section of the wall, a section without any other tourists, with the wall in its original state and spectacular scenery all around us.

We passed watchtowers, hiked the collapsed weed-overgrown parts and had amazing views of the wall snaking across the surrounding green mountain scenery. And most importantly, we did not come across a single other living soul. The hike itself was intense and beforehand we were warned for sprained ankles. In many cases we needed both hands to handle the steep drops and the scrambling ascents, but it was all worth it.

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During previous China visits I had already climbed the wall a few times at the Badaling section. Badaling is beautiful, well preserved and by far the most popular section to visit. However, this wall experience was better. I’m forever happy that I, for this time (stubborn as I am) had listened to my friend. We saw the wall in its true form. Without tourists. Without renovations. The tour truly took us back to ancient China.


Leo Secret Great Wall Tour 13

Leo Secret Great Wall Tour 5

About Leo’s Secret Great Wall Tour

Website: None. Unfortunately, we don’t know if the tour is still running. The latest internet updates date from 2012.
Costs: 240 Y
Where: Leo Hostel in Beijing
Tips: Wear good shoes, bring sunscreen and bring enough water
Some info on the wall itself: The Great Wall is the symbol of Chinese civilization and stretches over an impressive 8,850 kilometers. It was built from the 3rd century BC to the 17th century AD to protect the Chinese empire against foreign intrusions. It’s the world largest military structure and obviously a must see when visiting China.

Recommended further reading
Rock-climbing the karst hills near Yangshuo, China
The pros and cons of a homestay abroad
Jiuzhaigou, the most beautiful place in China
Photo essay of the Transmongolian Express


    • Yes, I hope the tour is still running! I emailed the Leo Hostel a few weeks ago to ask, but no response. Otherwise maybe the Jinshanling or Simatai section :)?

  1. If you want to have a nice time at the wall, be almost alone and close to a few very old villages I recommend going to the Great Wall Box House. I went there in december of 2011 and it was awesome. It was a newly opened place back then but now it is number 1 on tripadvisor. You can do a walk in two different directions. The first day I hiked for 7 hours on a nice and sunny day and met only 10 other people during those 7 hours. The next day it was snowing and I hiked for another 7 hours in the opposite direction, was all alone the entire day, great experience.

    This is also at unrestored and quiet places of the wall, can really recommend it :)

    • Hi Bart, I looked it up and a great tip indeed :)! I truly think Leo Hostel stopped running these tours, so this a great alternative!

  2. The Leo Hostel; I also stayed there :) Didn’t see this tour (back in 2008). We went by ourselves to do the Jinshanling to Simaitai section; it’s also a beautiful and fairly quiet piece. However, we started by going the wrong way and were also on pieces of unrestored and overgrown wall. Then we had to hurry back, because our taxi-driver was waiting in Samaitai, and we took some shortcuts walking beside instead of on the wall, while the sun was setting; a wonderfull experience!

    • Haha what a coincidence! Cool hostel! Awesome that you’ve done the Jinshanling-Simatai walk! I still would love to do that one day :)!

  3. Great story! We never really thought about doing this until we met a couple from the US in New Zealand who had been hiking on the wall and shared their amazing pictures with us… can’t wait to go there one day, although it will probably be later than sooner with all the other plans we have in mind…


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