Meet Kendra, Wike Baby bestie, dedicated teacher, and fabulous photographer located just outside of Boston. You can find her work on her website or on Instagram. When she's not calming middle school angst or photographing people in love, she's traveling or dreaming of traveling. Some of her favorite travels took her to Beijing and The Great Wall of China, which she describes for you below.
I think it goes without saying that The Great Wall is in fact, very great, and very expansive. You can get on to the Great Wall pretty close to Beijing (considering how large China is) but it's usually PACKED with tourists. As in jam packed like sardines. That's not really my style, and I figure if you're looking to do some real hiking, wading through people doesn't really get the heart rate going. I opted for the hike through Beijing Hikers called "Great Wall Spur" because you go away from all the tourist areas and are alone on the wall with just your small tour group, which for me was only about 20 people.
Here's how it goes: once you get off the bus at the spot, you and your group hike through a light forest up to the top of the wall. And when I say up, I mean up. It's a pretty steep hike that I wasn't totally prepared for-- I won't lie! The Great Wall is beyond words. I mean it really is. Pictures and words are not really going to fully capture its astounding nature. First off, the wall is built on the tops of mountains, so to get up to the top you are essentially hiking vertically for a couple hours. It might seem like a "winding" hike when you look at the pictures below, but my lungs and I will assure you that it is in fact straight vertical and if I could have crawled up I would have. (In other news, I should probably exercise more!) This particular hike is rated a 3+, which means it's a moderately tough hike and it takes 3-4 hours, so I don't recommend it for young kiddos. But Beijing Hikers has tons of other hike options throughout the area, including level 1 hikes which are more like strolls and great for families! My biggest tip: bring lots of snacks and water! And make sure your snacks can't melt-- I found that out the hard way, especially since you have to hike back down!
But of course, it's totally worth it because once you get to the top the views while you hike along the wall are just insane if you are lucky enough to have a clear day like we did. In every direction you look, miles and miles of wall extend around you. It's ancient and crumbling and there are trees and plants growing out of the stone path in every direction. And you're walking on it. The piece of wall we hiked was completed in 1580 AD, as it took a couple hundred years to finish. Even though the age and condition are impressive, the actual construction is astounding. To think of people having to hike up what I hiked carrying bricks and stones on their back and then build in all weather and conditions (it was 85 and blazing sun for us!) is beyond me. And the wall is so big they aren't even sure of the size. Different measurement estimates put it between 4,000-5,000 miles long. That means people built 5,000 miles of wall. On top of mountains. By hand. For thousands of years. And you can walk on that history. So what are you waiting for?
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Check out the rest of our Exploring Abroad Series HERE, and share your own adventures on our Facebook page or by tagging @wikebaby on Instagram!
What are some of your favorite hikes with history?