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Travel, Teach, Live in China

How to Trek the Whole Length of the Great Wall of China
By:Amber D. Walker

The Great Wall of China is one of the historical wonders of the world and is a UNESCO World Heritage site. Originally built to keep out invaders, the wall spanned approximately 5,500 miles across China, from east to west, over various terrain. Many visitors to China believe the entire existing portion of the Great Wall is located in Beijing; this is not true. There are still about 4,000 miles of the Great Wall in existence. How fast you can do this depends on your fitness level and resources. It can take between three and six months to walk the wall.

Decide at which end you want to begin. You can start at either the west section, located in Gansu province, or in the east, which is located in Tiger Mountain, near North Korea. Beginning in the west is the easiest, as Gansu is easier to get to. If you begin in Gansu, you will need to fly into Lanzhou, the capital, and then travel to the city of Jiayuguan, which is where the Great Wall begins.

Pack well. You are going to be doing a lot of walking, so you will need good, sturdy walking shoes, supplies and a backpack.

Begin walking the wall at Jiayuguan Pass. The is the westernmost end of the Great Wall. You can arrange this with either a local taxi driver or with a tour agency which specializes in Great Wall tours. The section in Jiayuguan is well-known. There are operating hours for the wall, so be sure to get there before either 8 p.m. (summer and autumn) or 6 p.m. (winter and spring).

Keep walking along the wall until you get to a small city called Gaotai. Gaotai is about 150 miles from Jiayuguan by wall. Make this your first checkpoint. Rest and get ready for the next section of the hike.

You'll go through several small villages on the way. Whenever you go through a village, be sure to buy some food and get drinking water. There may be areas where you cannot physically see the wall, but continue on with your route.

Leave Gaotai and walk east until you get to Ningxia Autonomous Region. Ningxia does not have many villages and resources near the wall, so be sure to have enough food and water to reach this spot.

Walk on from Ningxia until you get to Shanxi province. The wall will feature brick for the first time. The first real brick section of the wall will be close to a little town called Suichuan. The wall snakes over many different kinds of fields in Shanxi, making the scenery especially beautiful. This area marks the halfway point of your hike.

Follow the wall to Hebei province. Beijing is in Hebei, and the Hebei sections of the wall are the ones most frequented by tourists and local people. In Beijing, you can get more supplies and rest before continuing.

Continue following the Great Wall to Liaoning province. This is a very old part of the wall and whether it was even actually a true part of the wall was in question until recently.

Walk to Hushan, Tiger Mountain, in Liaoning. This is the end of the wall.

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