Hiking the Great Wall (4 nights)

SHA 506-201
  • 2 days hiking on the Great Wall!
  • Top Bejing sites such as Tiananmen Square, Forbidden City, Temple of Heaven, and Summer Palace
  • Paper-cutting lesson
  • Home-cooked Dumpling Dinner
Program Overview
Country: China
Depart: 11/25/2017 0600
Return: 11/29/2017 1700
Duration: Overnight
Difficulty: Strenuous
Capacity: Min 35 / Max 70
Category: ILLUMINATE: Active / Adventure
Program Fee
$1227 (early booking: $1178)

Field Class Conflicts
  • HDFS 101 Individual & Family Development

The Chinese name for the Great Wall is Wan Li Chang Cheng, or “the Long Wall of Ten Thousand Li.” The first sections were built as early as the fifth century B.C. but it was not until B.C. 221 that the various sections of the Wall were connected. It is said that more than 300,000 men worked for ten years to complete this national treasure. Take this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to experience the history and beauty of this towering wonder of the world!

Fly into Beijing and travel 2.5 hours northeast to Miyun County. Upon arrival, explore Gubei Water Town, located at the foot of the Great Wall in Simatai Village. Though the town itself is quite new, the style is evocative of the ancient culture of Northern China. The cobblestone streets, half-moon bridges over narrow waterways, beautiful gardens, and surrounding mountains make it the perfect daylong or overnight escape from bustling Beijing. In the afternoon, participants can try their hand at the Chinese handicraft of paper-cutting. The art form originated in the 6th century when women used to paste golden and silver foil cuttings onto their hair at temples, and men utilized the cuttings in sacred rituals. Later, they were employed to decorate gates and windows during festivals. After hundreds of years of development, now they have become a very popular means of decoration among country folk.

The following morning, embark upon the hike of a lifetime! Trek the 4-5 hours (8km, 5m) from the Gubeikou to the Jinshanling section. Traverse this ancient wonder, passing 14 beacon towers, 143 watchtowers, 16 strategic passes, three citadels and other military constructions along the way. Many of these structures are famous cultural relics, such as the Big Flower Beacon Tower of the Northern Qi Dynasty, Fairy Tower, General Tower, and the dominant Wangjing Tower. Take a detour from a military station on a scenic country lane before rejoining the wall.

On day 3, continue the hike from Jinshanling towards the Simitai section. This four-hour stretch crosses an unreconstructed part of the wall with remarkable views of the precipitous mountain ridges in the distance.

After becoming acquainted with the timeless awe of the Great Wall in a manner few can boast, switch gears and explore the majestic historical landmarks of downtown Beijing. Start off with a fast-paced rickshaw ride through Beijing’s narrow hutongs. The word “hutong” refers to the network of lanes created by closely built quadrangular homes. Once the primary architectural feature of China’s capital city, hutongs now make up only a small fraction of Beijing, having been replaced by high-rise buildings in recent years. Recapture the feeling of Beijing’s past and visit a local family’s courtyard home along the way. In the evening, savor a steaming-hot dumpling dinner, family style!

During the last two days in this bustling capitol, explore the Summer Palace – a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the largest and best-preserved imperial gardens in the world, and Tiananmen Square and the Forbidden City (Imperial Palace) – a remarkably preserved site of Classical Chinese architecture.  Wrap up this once-in-a-lifetime program with a visit to the Temple of Heaven, where one can feel the collision of the past with the present. Here see Beijing citizens performing their morning exercises against the backdrop of ancient and ornate religious temples.

“HIKING THE GREAT WALL! It was an amazing experience that was enhanced by the local citizens being a part of our group. We were able to really connect to the history of the wall and understand it’s importance in Chinese history.” – Anonymous, Spring 2017 Student Voyager

“The most unique “road less traveled” way to experience the Great Wall! This program takes you beyond the typical tourist attractions!” – Kassie M. Spring 2017 Student Voyager


Day 1

  • Fly to Beijing (lunch on own at airport)
  • Travel to Miyun County (~2.5hrs)
  • Gubei Water Town
  • Paper-cutting lesson
  • Dinner
  • Evening on your own to explore
  • Overnight at hotel

Day 2

  • Breakfast
  • Hike from Gubeikou to Jinshanling section (~4-5hrs) (picnic lunch en route)
  • Dinner
  • Overnight at hotel

Day 3

  • Breakfast
  • Hike from Jinshanling toward Simatai section
  • Lunch
  • Travel to Beijing
  • Rickshaw ride through hutongs
  • Dumpling dinner
  • Overnight at hotel

Day 4

  • Breakfast
  • Summer Palace
  • Lunch
  • Tiananmen Square
  • Forbidden City
  • Duck Dinner
  • Overnight at hotel

Day 5

  • Breakfast
  • Temple of Heaven
  • Fly to Shanghai (lunch on plane)

Please note that times, activities and accommodations are approximate and subject to change.

Meals Included

Day 1: dinner
Day 2: breakfast, lunch, dinner
Day 3: breakfast, lunch, dinner
Day 4: breakfast, lunch, dinner
Day 5: breakfast, lunch

Special Note

THIS IS A STRENUOUS HIKE! This program is not recommended for those with limited mobility/endurance. Please bring a sturdy pair of hiking shoes. It will be cold with the possibility of snow. Bring layers and warm footwear in case of inclement weather.