Added by Michael Gabbert
A once in a lifetime experience camping on the Great Wall of China.
An experience unlike any other in the world, camping on the Great Wall of China is a truly once in a lifetime adventure. The ability to legally camp on the actual wall is limited to the Gubeikou section. The section is considered ‘wild’ as it has never been restored since its original construction, which only adds to the intrigue and experience. Beyond the camping, the section is truly special due to its ruggedness and how sparsely visited it is. For reference, I hiked on it for over 5 hrs and never saw nor heard anyone else across Gubeikou
Unfortunately there are no direct public transportation routes to this section so to get there you’ll either have to hire a driver and/or guide.
1) Hiring a guide – There are a couple guide options if you simply Google ‘Great Wall Camping’. This option, while more costly, is helpful in regards to local knowledge, helpful info, and ensuring that you’ll get to the wall and not encounter any issues. This option likely includes a driver to and from the wall along with camping supplies (tent, sleeping bag). A great option if you don't intend to bring any of your own gear.
2) Hiring a driver - A myriad of options (size of car, length of time, etc.) will depend on the cost of this option, but $150-$300 for a multi-day hiring is likely. The benefit of this lower cost is accompanied with the flexibility you have once on the wall. Without a guide, you are completely on your own time and can spend as much time on the wall as desired.
The drawbacks of simply hiring a driver instead of a guide is the lack of trail knowledge and possible communication deficiencies stemming from the language barrier. That said, a great drop-off and launching point onto the Gubeikou section is the Qing Yun Farm House. A quaint ‘hotel’, it sits in between the Gubeikou and Jinshanling sections of the wall. Starting from here, you’ll hike southwest about 30 minutes. The trail itself is clearly carved out and rather straightforward, making the hike itself easy.
Once on the wall, you have the option to camp in any of the watchtowers. The watchtowers themselves act as great barriers to the wind and elements, but note that the ground on which you’ll be sleeping is rock hard (literally). No two watchtowers are the same, so explore Gubeikou, take it all in, and then decide where to best to set-up camp.
The temperature on the wall is typically 10 degrees colder than Beijing, so pack accordingly. Additionally, while the hiking isn’t particularly strenuous keep in mind that the wall itself is quite rugged. Hiking shoes are suggested. As for food, pack as you would for any other overnight excursion. And lastly, as there are several great places to sit and take it all in, pack a portable camping chair. It will serve you well as you sit and contemplate the grandness of scale which lies in front of you.
- Hiking Shoes
- Warm Clothing (depending on the season you visit)
- Camping Food
- Tent/Sleeping Bag (depending if you hire a guide or not)
- Local Currency
- Camping Chair
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