Every year more than 10 million people flock to the Great Wall of China to bask in its glory. While there are various restored sections of the wall that you can visit without having to walk long distances and risk getting dirty, there is another way to explore the sheer magnitude of the wall – by taking a hike. Hiking the Great Wall will undoubtedly be one of the most exhilarating experiences of your life. While the areas surrounding the wall are considered safe, there are a number of safety precautions you can follow to ensure that your hike is as uneventful and enjoyable as possible. Even if you are the most inexperienced of hikers you will be able to safely traverse the wall if you take heed of the following tips and practice common sense at all times.
Set realistic goals for yourself
As much as you want to be a trooper and hike the entire length of the Great Wall, it simply isn’t a realistic goal to set for yourself. You need to consider a range of things including your own fitness level before deciding which stretch of the wall you want to hike. If you are looking for a hike with an incline of less than 30 degrees and no risk of fall or slide, the Gubeikou to Jinshanling hike may be ideal for you. If you are a more experienced hiker you can opt for the Jiankou to Mutianyu hike which sports an incline of more than 35 degrees and some risk of fall or slide. It is important to never veer off marked trails regardless of how adept you are at hiking and to always check the weather report well in advance to ensure that no inclement conditions are forecasted.
Make sure you have the right gear
When hiking the Great Wall it is imperative to come well prepared. Layered clothing and comfortable hiking boots are an absolute must as is a lightweight backpack to pack all your necessities in. Due to the high altitude of the wall, a high SPF sunscreen is very important as is a pair of quality sunglasses and a hat of sorts. Remember to pack enough water and healthy snacks to last you for the duration of your hike. If you are planning to camp on the wall you will have to carry a tent and other camping gear along with you as well. The brick and stone that the wall is constructed from is hard so you will have to make an effort to make a comfortable bed for yourself on the floor or bring a foldable, lightweight hammock along. Remember that there are no restrooms on the wall accept for those in the restored sections so make sure you have toilet paper and hand sanitizer in your backpack as well.
Don’t forget the first aid kit
With the wall being over 2000 years old it is no wonder that it is literally falling apart in some places. Regardless of how careful you may be while hiking, you can easily lose your footing on the loose bricks and rocks, causing you to trip and fall. Carrying a first aid kit with you during your hike is without a doubt a good idea as you may find yourself kilometers away from the nearest medical facility. Even if you are only able to attend to minor cuts, grazes, and perhaps the odd twisted ankle, it beats being left completely vulnerable. Make sure your first aid kit contains all the basics you may need including antiseptic wipes, an antiseptic ointment, a variety of plasters and bandages, insect bite treatment, and an antihistamine. The Great Wall of China is without a doubt one of the most majestic wonders of the world. If you are fortunate enough to find yourself hiking the wall, you will undoubtedly be blessed not only with some of the most breathtaking views on earth, but also an immense sense of personal accomplishment.