1. "A Wonderful Hike at Chenjiabao"
Julian from UK
As someone who lives day-to-day in a busy Chinese metropolis, I really couldn’t recommend the chance to explore China’s peaceful yet spectacular countryside with China Travellers enough. The same goes for anyone visiting Beijing who just fancies a day away from the crowds that mass around the usual tourist hubs.
Two days ago, I had the pleasure of meeting Sonia (who runs China Travellers) for the first time. She was the ideal hiking companion in many ways. Aside from being a lovely person, she speaks excellent English, is comfortable talking about any topic, is passionate about what she does and knowledgeable about the Great Wall and its history. She is attentive to the needs of her clients, allowing me time to pick up breakfast before departing from Beijing and ensuring that I’d packed enough water and layers for the hike. Just as importantly, she has good contacts at each of the hiking locations and we were met by friendly villagers who invited us into their homes for tea and a delicious post-hike lunch.
The hike itself was a good workout but nothing too strenuous (roughly 4 hours in total with plenty of time to stop and take photos). I would happily recommend her hikes for children and families too. There were alternate routes around the steepest climbs allowing the hiker to adapt their activity to suit their hiking level. The Great Wall itself was wonderfully quiet and absolutely unspoiled, as described. There was not another hiker in sight - exactly how us romantics dream of experiencing the Wall. Sitting atop the watchtowers along the way, you could hear nothing but the wind.
Trust me: ditch the guidebooks. When you consider what it usually costs to get yourself out to the Great Wall independently versus what you get out of the experience with somebody helpful and knowledgeable like Sonia, the value for money is excellent. I will definitely be back for more.