Arrive Beijing. There will be a welcome briefing this evening with a Beijing Duck dinner at a local restaurant.
We leave the capital and head into the countryside to the Great Wall, a 3 hour journey to the north east of the city. We go to the less visited section at Mutian Yu where the Wall is an impressive sight, snaking off across mountains and valleys into the distance. As one of the best preserved parts of the Great Wall, the Mutian Yu section used to serve as the northern barrier defending the capital and the imperial tombs. There are 22 watchtowers on this 2,250-metre-long section; the most famous is Zheng Bei Tai, which consists of three inner-connected watchtowers. Approx walking time 5-6 hours. We transfer by bus to Jiankou, where we stay at a guesthouse/homestay. Basic hot showers are available, as are western-style toilets with communal bathroom facilities.
Today we trek to a section of the wall constructed of large white rocks, very noticeable from a distance, built in 1368 during the Ming dynasty. Due to its steep mountains and beautiful scenery Jiankou is a photographers dream, and is where most photos of the Wall are taken. This part of the Wall is unpreserved and wild and we will walk for approx 2-4 hours on a few sections of the Wall; we will bypass a few sections, as they are steep and difficult underfoot. In the afternoon we return to the road and are picked up by our vehicle and transferred to Gubeikou, approx 2.5 hours drive away, where we spend the night.
This section of the Wall stretches for more than 25 miles. There are 14 beacon towers, 143 watchtowers, 16 strategic passes, and 3 citadels. Gubeikou has long been a town of military significance. Approx walking time 5-6 hours before returning to Gubeikou.
We get up early and trek past some interesting villages next to the Wall. Today’s walk involves scrambling and steep ascents to the top of ridges: the views from the top of these ridges are spectacular as we walk past numerous watchtowers and beacon towers. The first part of today's walk is on a broken section of the Wall and at the end of the day we descend from the Wall, in order to bypass a restricted military area. Approx walking time 6-7 hours
Trek along Great Wall Jingshanling to Simatai. The wall here was rebuilt in 1572 and has been restored but is still reasonably quiet if we start early; it is the starting point for our 10km walk. There are many watchtowers on this stretch looking out across the gullies and ravines of the rugged landscape. The Wall is steep in places and its condition worsens in the middle section – you need to be happy walking on uneven and stony surfaces with some drops off to the side. The trek from Jingshanling to Simatai normally takes about 4-5 hours. The views are excellent, watching the Wall move away across the rugged hills. This afternoon is free to explore the Simatai section of the Wall, one of the few to retain the original features of the Ming dynasty.
Trek along Great Wall from Taipingzhai to Huangyaguan. This morning we drive approximately 2 hours to Taipingzhai, where we walk past various forms of watch towers, and the largest tower of the Great Wall 'Phoenix Tower'. The most unusual feature here is the street of eight diagrams, a labyrinth set up to stop invaders. Huangyaguan Great Wall also holds an annual international marathon race. Approx walking time 3-4 hours. We spend tonight at a local farmer’s guesthouse/homestay and have the opportunity to see how families live in this area. Basic hot showers are available, as are western-style toilets with communal bathroom facilities.
This morning we drive the short distance to visit the East Qing Tombs and the impressive Sacred Way. While the Qing Royalty spent their living summers in Chengde, it seems that this area was a popular spot for their ‘final’ journey. Altogether there are five Emperors, 14 Empresses and 136 imperial concubines/princesses buried in the main site, with further tombs in the surrounding mountains. The infamous Empress Dowager Cixi is one of those buried here. Transfer by road to Beijing, free afternoon.
Guided tour in Beijing including the Forbidden City and Tiananmen Square, followed by time for shopping. In the evening there is an optional visit to the China Acrobatic Troupe's show or the Beijing opera.
Fly to London.