Exploring the Great Wall of China

No one who goes to China should miss seeing and experiencing the Great Wall; one of the wonders of the world, it’s a feat of human endeavor that rivals any on the planet, past or present. Stretching for 3,000 miles from the Yellow Sea in the east to North China on the west, its span approximately equals the width of the continental United States from Los Angeles to Boston.

Only a few have walked the Great Wall from end to end, but even visitors who walk only a short way on this incredible construction find themselves awed by the indescribable aura of untold history that surrounds it. All that aside, when you take a walk on the Wall, be prepared; take some tips from experienced travel guides.

In the summer it’s very hot; in winter it can be very cold. Dress according to weather forecasts and wear clothing that’s lightweight but water and wind-resistant as much as possible; the less weight you’re carrying the happier you’ll be. Shoes are all-important: get good ones made especially for walking and climbing, as there many are steep slopes and stairs. Don’t go in brand new shoes – break them in for a few days first.

Know that apart from specified tourist areas, much of the Wall is in disrepair; since it was built over a period of some 1,700 years beginning in 214BC, parts of this structure are very,very old. However, you can get off the beaten track if you travel only about 60 miles from Beijing (the usual starting point for tourists). Part of the original ancient Wall can be traversed at Simatai, 80 miles from Beijing and well away from most of the crowds.