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.
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.
SCORES (OUT OF FIVE STARS)
‘NEVER AGAIN, SCARY AS HELL’ LEVEL *
‘NEED TO BE IN GOOD SHAPE’ LEVEL ***
‘FUN’ LEVEL ***
‘SUPERBE LANDSCAPES’ LEVEL ****
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