The Great Wall of China stretches some 5,500 miles… or almost 13,200 miles (!!!), depending on which archaeological study you look at and what exactly you count as part of the wall. If you look at a map of the wall, you’ll see that it is in fact not a wall, but a bunch of walls, all collectively known as The Great Wall of China. Pretty fascinating stuff, and there’s a reason why it’s a top tourist destination, it is jaw dropping to see in person!
The wall is now broken up into sections and has long stretches where the wall has been restored to its original state, and others that remain “wild”. It’s safe to say that most people when they visit will go to a restored section, walk around for a bit, and then move on to the next thing, which is a perfectly fine way to go about it. The restored sections generally have services (read: bathrooms, vending stations, and people selling souvenirs) and a great many tour companies to choose from that will take you there, or even just buses that will drop you off. If you’re feeling adventurous though, in my personal opinion, the wild sections of the wall are where it’s at. There are no handrails, in some places you have to scramble on your hands and feet, and in others you have to push through the vegetation to get around, but most importantly, you get a chance to experience the wall all by yourself. No other tourists. No vendors following you around trying to sell you stuff. No one.
The image above was taken at the highest part of the Zhuangdaokuo section of the wall. It is SUPER sketchy to get to, but as you can see from the picture, it is well worth it. With the wild section of the wall you don’t get the pristine towers you see in all the postcards, but I personally find the ruins to be more intriguing. For more commentary on the different sections of the wall, check out the individual images below, and tune in next week for pictures from my absolute favorite section. If you’re thinking of visiting the Great Wall, check out Wild Great Wall. These guys are very knowledgeable about the different sections of the wall and can point you in the right direction based on what you want to accomplish.
More next week!
Just down the hill from the very first image (you can barely see this tower if you follow the wall down a bit to the right) is where this tower is. Even though it was hazy, the view was fantastic! My friend and I thoroughly enjoyed this section
After hiking to Zhuangdaokou, you’re faced with a choice. Left or right. My friend and I chose right because the wall to the left looked impassible in places. This is one of the towers that you would pass going to the left. I loved the way the tower is just being consumed by the forest. The wall itself was hard to spot, other than connecting the towers with your imagination.
Jinshanling is a section that has both restored wall and unrestored, or wild. The furthest you were allowed to go on the wild section is the tower in the center of the frame. A newly restored section is just beyond there and it requires an entrance fee, but the views along this part were awesome. It was worth the walk.
An isolated tower along the wild section at Jinshanling. I loved how jagged the mountains look in the background here.
Before visiting China this go around I had read about a section of the wall that dives into a lake. That section is the Huanghuacheng section. The lake, as it turns out, is man-made and parts of the wall were broken off at the water. There isn’t a really good dramatic picture where the wall meets the water, but the location was interesting. This section is restored and is where Chinese locals go for picnics and camping. My friend and I were some of the few western tourists there, but it was still not as quiet as the wild sections (I removed a LOT of people from this picture).