Waking up in Beijing with butterflies in my tummy… I was FINALLY going to trek along the Great Wall of China, not only that, I was taking the Wild Wall route from Jiankou to Mutianyu!
The tour guide normally picks up from the hotel but the Bejing Double Happiness Courtyard Hotel is nestled in the traditional hutongs and hard to get access so I met the group at Dongcheng subway, only a few blocks away. The drive to Xizhazi village takes around 2 hours.
Xizhazi village to Zhengbeilou Tower
Our trek started at the Xizhazi village. You will pass a big blue sign that says ‘This section of the wall is not open to the public’ then 5 minutes later you pass another two signs that say “Take nothing but photographs. Leave nothing but footprints. Keep the wall wild and wonderful” and “This is a strictly protected Great Wall landscape”. You will notice stones on the ground, they are burial spots on the village folk.
After steep ascent through the snowy forest for one hour, we climbed onto the wall where the sun was shining across the expansive, breath-taking mountains. We headed to the top of our first unrestored tower to catch a better glimpse of the landscape of Jiankou, the views of the snake-like structure against the never-ending mountains are simply incredible.
Jiankou is a ‘wild’ and unrepaired section of the Great Wall. It was built on ridges with steep cliffs on each side, which makes it one of the most dangerous sections of the. Ming’s Wall.
Ox-horn edge challenge
We took the shortcut as it was the majority vote on the group tour but this sounds like the tricky part of the walk as the wall is totally destroyed. It’s a 30 minute detour and sounded like a fun challenge that I would’ve loved to have explored!
Walk to Mutianyu section of the Great Wall
The Lonely Planet hails the Jiankou section as the “granddaddy of wild Great Wall hikes” and I can see why! The 11km trek is a little strenuous as the path takes you through several crumbling watchtowers and pine forests before reaching Mutianyu, a restored section with a chairlift and a toboggan ride to the bottom.
We took the toboggan down the 1580m slide, it goes pretty fast. An exhilarating end to a wonderful trek!
Jiankou to Mutianyu: The Essentials
Choose the right Great Wall tour for you
- Most important, if you do not speak Chinese, check that the guide speaks English or any other language you understand.
- Ensure the part of the Great Wall you wish to trek along suits your fitness ability.
Beijing Walking Tours is the one!
I read a lot of reviews on Get Your Guide and Tripadvisor before I went to ensure the best experiences. The Wild Wall would be tricky to find so I used Leo from Beijing Walking Tours. He offers advice on his website on how to go it alone but I can’t recommend this guy enough! He was responsive on email before my trip, spoke great English, knowledgable about Chinese history…oh and he takes bad ass photos which he shares as great memory from seeing this epic UNESCO World Heritage site!
How much did the Jiankou to Mutianyu trek cost?
The costs of this trek was 500 RMB ($72) and the toboggan was 100 RMB ($7) which included a hearty Chinese meal in a local restaurant before heading back to Beijing.
Make travel insurance a priority!
Always make travel insurance a priority for any adventure! World Nomads is my go-to guys, I’ve learnt this from experience. You can buy and claim online even when you’ve left home. I love that they give a little back too and support community development projects in various countries.