Views over the Great Wall

Top 10 Highlights Trekking the Great Wall

Is the Great Wall of China on your bucket list? Have you ever thought about doing it for a good cause? Hear all about what it’s like to trek the Great Wall with Ayla from our Sydney office! 

In October 2016, Ayla embarked on a 6-day trek on the Huma Great Wall of China Open Challenge. After travelling through East and West Africa, she developed a passion about education in Africa. So, she decided to raise money for One Girl, a charity that helps educate girls in Africa through grassroots projects. 

Ayla was joined by a group of passionate fundraisers from all around Australia, each raising money for their favourite charity. These are her top 10 highlights of trekking the Great Wall of China for a cause.

1. Walking for a purpose

I have always been someone who loves walking. Yet, walking for a cause made the experience even more special. I thoroughly enjoyed trekking on the Great Wall for One Girl, knowing I was helping girls in Africa receive a life-changing education. When there were more challenging days, or steeper climbs, it made putting one foot in-front of the other easier. Walking the Great Wall was meditative and gave the whole team a chance to reflect on the causes they were supporting.

2. Trekking the “wild” sections of the wall

Usually when people conjure up images of the Great Wall, they think of the more touristy paved sections you see in advertising. Yet, what a lot of people don’t know is that a lot of the Great Wall has been left untouched and crumbling. This makes for incredible people-free hiking on sections of the wall that zigzag up craggy mountains. Often we were the only people walking on particular sections, making our walk even more special. 

3. The breathtaking scenery

Trekking the Great Wall in autumn was beautiful (October- early November). The wall meandered off into mountains that were blanketed by colours of red, golden, yellow and brown which made for stunning views. At times I found it hard to put my camera down! The weather was also great at this time of year and not too hot or cold.

4. Team camaraderie

I joined the Great Wall trek on my own but quickly felt part of the team. I thoroughly enjoyed getting to know everyone in the group, particularly hearing all the stories about what brought them on the trip, and why they were fundraising for their chosen charity. There was an encouraging team spirit among the group, with everyone looking out for each other along the way.

5. Going tech-free

Trekking the Great Wall gave me the perfect opportunity to disconnect and unwind from my busy life back home. I chose not to get a local SIM card which meant I was phone and internet free for five days! This allowed me to slow down, switch-off and fully immersed in the rhythm of walking.

6. Walking through small towns

As we weaved our way along different sections of the Great Wall we passed through some quaint farming towns. This is something I wouldn’t have seen if I had gone to a more mainstream part of the wall. It was interesting seeing the locals going about their daily activities like tending to their crops, or seeing their kids off to school.

7. Challenging myself 

The Great Wall is an introductory to moderate trek, in which you walk 3-5 hours per day and carry only a day pack. Your gear is transferred between campsites. In saying this, there were still plenty of stairs and hills to climb that I enjoyed challenging myself on. On the last day we climbed to the Beijing Tower at the summit of Mount Simatai. It was steep and the most challenging days of the trek, but stunning vistas and views from the top made it all worth it!

8. The delicious food

I am not alone in thinking the food was a real highlight on this trip. After a day of walking, we couldn’t be more thrilled by the delicious food we were served for dinner. We also had plenty of snacks for the trail and definitely never went hungry. One of the team members had a birthday and our guide even organised a birthday cake for that occasion. It made her day!

9. Our guides

Our local guides were extremely accommodating and friendly. They were in with the group jokes and everyone in the group really enjoyed their company. They really made our more special. We were sad to say goodbye at the end of our trip!

10. Sightseeing in Beijing

Before and after the trip I had time to visit some of the historical sites in Beijing. On day one before the trek we went to Tiananmen Square and the Forbidden City. Afterwards we explored the cobblestone streets of old Beijing. After the trip I went to ogle at the beautiful Temple of Heaven and explored the surrounding gardens which were really something.

I would definitely recommend you experience trekking the Great Wall – especially in support for your charity. It’s a once-in-a-life experience that you’ll always cherish. 

Trek the Great Wall for Charity

Tick the Great Wall of your bucket list and challenge yourself for a cause! Join the Great Wall of China Open Challenge and choose your departure date and the charity you fundraise for.