Great Wall of China
Great Wall of China Photography Trek
As one of the world’s most iconic structures, the Great Wall of China makes a fantastic destination for a photography tour. On this 8 day adventure we trek for 5 days along some of the most varied and interesting sections of the Wall experiencing the changing landscape and learning about its deep history.
During each day of this trip we visit and trek along a different section of the Great Wall before returning to a comfortable hotel each night. Our adventure takes us from original sections of the ‘Wild Wall’ at Guibeko with its crumbling paths and ruined watchtowers to the restored sections of Mutianyu and Badaling where panoramic views stretch to distant misty mountains over peaceful woodland.
A night at the Gubei Water Town and beautifully illuminated Simatai section of the Wall offer some stunning and unique night photography opportunities. After 5 days we head back to Beijing to explore one of the world’s most fascinating cities with a visit to Tiananmen Square and the Forbidden City itself.
Day 1: Join in Beijing, China
Our tour starts in Beijing. We’ll meet at our hotel and will have the rest of the day to recover from our flight. There will be a trip briefing and introductions in the evening over a delicious Chinese meal.
Day 2: Badaling & Juyong
After breakfast we transfer and trek along the unrestored section of the Badaling Wall where we catch views of the Wall fading far into the distance surrounded by misty mountains. After lunch we transfer to the Juyongguan section of the Wall. Originally constructed in the 5th Century and rebuilt 1000 years later by the Ming Dynasty, Juyong was considered to be one of the most strategically important parts of the wall because of its link with Beijing. We return to our hotel this evening.
Day 3: Mutianyu. The 1000 Steps and Heavenly Ladder
After an early breakfast we transfer through stunning rural countryside to Mutianyu, one of the first sections of the Wall to be recognized by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site. We trek up the 1000 steps to reach the entrance gate of the Great Wall then continue along to tower 14. On route we stop for a packed lunch before continuing up the steps of the Heavenly Ladder which offers stunning views from the top. We return the way we came or there is an option of descending by cable car. This evening we will stay in the wonderful Gubei Water Town. The architecture of the town is in a traditional Chinese style and preserves the ancient culture of China. The entire town and Simatai section of the Great Wall are illuminated at night and the view of the town and wall from above is absolutely breathtaking.
Day 4: Huanghuacheng
Today we will trek along Huanghuacheng Great Wall, a section noted for its lake scenery and ancient Wall. The Huanghuacheng Great Wall is divided by reservoirs with some parts immersed in the water,. This is a unique characteristic, distinguishing it from other sections of the Great Wall. We walk alongside the Huanghuacheng Reservoir with the Great Wall hanging on the mountains surrounding us. Today’s trek is steep and undulating in places until we finish at the Xishuiyu Reservoir.
Day 5: Gubeikou Great Wall
After breakfast we transfer to the start of today’s trek at Gubeikou. Gubeikou has always been a town of strategic and military importance as the Yanshan mountain range, winding from East to West, forms a natural narrow pass here. We pass through remote rural farmland and many crumbling watch towers on our journey. This section of the Wall retains its original bricks and stones from two separate dynasties, well-preserved and unrestored.
Day 6: Jinshanling
We enjoy a wonderful day of trekking today on the Jinshanling section of the Wall. This section is half restored and half wild and is one of the most beautiful section of the Great Wall. This is a quieter section and allows for excellent views of the wall snaking up and down as it crosses the mountainous landscape. We transfer back to Beijing at the end of the day.
Day 7: Beijing. Tiananmen Square & The Forbidden City
After breakfast we visit Tiananmen Square and take a tour of the Forbidden City. If time permits there is also an option to visit the Olympic Park. We spend the day photographing many wonderful sights and scenes at the fascinating locations and learn much of the long and rich history of China. Tonight is a free night so we can go out for a celebratory meal or wander around the city to take some night photographs.
Day 8: Trip concludes
Our trip ends today after breakfast. Depending on flight times we can arrange another sightseeing tour of the city. This is not included in the package though we can make arrangements through our in country agent.
This trip involves Adventure Travel. We make every effort to keep to the above itinerary but we cannot always guarantee it. Weather, trail conditions and the health of participants can all contribute to changes to the prescribed itinerary. Your leader will always try to ensure that we keep to the itinerary detailed but a flexible attitude is needed and appreciated if changes need to be made.
What’s not included:
We use clean and comfortable 3 or 4 star hotels for this tour. All hotels have Western style amenities and provide towels. Some (though not all) have Wi-Fi availability. Hotel accommodation is provided on a twin share, single-sex basis. If you book as a couple you will be sharing the same hotel room. If you book as an individual you will be paired with someone of the same gender. Single supplement accommodation is available if you would prefer to have your own room. There is an additional cost for this which will be confirmed on request.
Meals are included throughout the trip. There will be three varied and nutritious meals a day.
Breakfast: Typically consists of a choice of Chinese and Western style food including fruit, toast, cereal or traditional Chinese style porridge, tea and coffee.
Lunch & Dinners: Typically consist of rice, stir fried and steamed vegetables, dumplings and a selection of meat. Chinese cuisine varies throughout the country and is usually quite different from what you may be used to at home. On some days of the trek we will be supplied with a packed lunch or will use a local restaurant or café.
We try and cater for vegetarian diets where possible and can assist with medically recommended diets (allergies and intolerances). Please discuss your dietary requirements with us well in advance so we can determine whether we can cater to such requirements. Please note that meal options are likely to be limited in very remote locations or may be more unavailable. There may be times when those with very specific requirements may need to provide their own food. We are unable to guarantee a peanut-free or allergen-free trip so strongly encourage that travellers with life-threatening or severe allergies take all necessary medical precautions to prepare for the possibility of exposure. Passengers must travel with all necessary medications for food allergies and be capable of self administering these medications.
No specific vaccinations are required for China. We advise that you consult your doctor or a travel medical specialist in order to get the most current advice regarding vaccination requirements. It is your responsibility to ensure that you are adequately vaccinated. Good websites to check are: fitfortravel.nhs.uk, travelhealthpro.org.uk and nomadtravel.co.uk
We advise taking some simple precautions in order to reduce the chances of becoming ill or picking up stomach upsets whilst on the trip. We encourage participants to keep their hands clean whilst on the trek with the use of hand sanitising gels. All hotels have Western style flushing toilets. We carry a comprehensive first aid kit on the trek.
We have graded the Great Wall of China Photography Trek as a Moderate trek. Although not at particularly high altitudes this trek does contain some strenuous days. Trails are predominantly along the top of the wall itself and can range from paved well developed sections to loose and uneven sections. The trek does involve walking up and down many steps, sometimes quite steep and the Wall continually rises and falls throughout its duration. This trek is possible to achieve with a moderate to good level of fitness. Previous trekking experience is not necessary but endurance and stamina will help, along with a positive mental attitude. Participants should be comfortable with walking around 4 – 8 hours per day. In order to maximise your enjoyment and potential success on this trek you should be in sound physical condition. If in doubt of your ability we highly recommend checking with your doctor before undertaking this trek.
This is a ‘Land Only’ package meaning you are responsible for arranging your own international fights and your trip will begin at our accommodation in Beijing. You will be responsible for arranging transport to and from our hotel but can easily be arranged on arrival. We can assist in arranging this.
IMPORTANT NOTE: Do not book your flights until the trip has been confirmed by Dreamtreks Photography.
Most nationalities, including UK citizens, require a visa for entry into China. Your passport should have at least 6 months validity left on it from the date of entry. We will forward all of the necessary Visa application forms and details you need to complete in order to apply for your Visa. It is not possible to obtain a Visa on arrival in China so you must ensure that you have obtained your Visa well before you travel.
It is a condition of booking that you have adequate travel Insurance which covers rescue, repatriation and medical expenses. We advise that you take out adequate insurance as soon as your booking has been confirmed. We will require a copy of your insurance prior to departure.
IMPORTANT NOTE: You must ensure your travel insurance covers you for trekking up to 2000m (Some travel insurance policies will exclude this option). We also advise that you have adequate insurance cover for your camera equipment as most travel insurance policies impose single item limits. We can advise of a few suitable travel insurance policies to consider.
Spring and Autumn are generally the most favourable times for trekking on the Great Wall of China. The weather at these times is generally mild to warm with the possibility of some showers. Nights can get cool so warm clothing is advised along with waterproof clothing.
Trekking activities do come with a risk of personal injury or death. Participants in these activities should be aware of and accept these risks and be responsible for their own actions and involvement.
This trip involves Adventure Travel in some remote mountain regions. We make every effort to keep to the above itinerary but we cannot always guarantee it. Weather and trail conditions and the health of participants, alterations to flight schedules infrastructure and operational factors can all contribute to changes to the prescribed itinerary. Your leader will always try to ensure that we keep to the itinerary detailed but a flexible attitude is needed and appreciated if changes need to be made.
In order to ensure that you are fully prepared for your trip we suggest bringing the following essential items with you. Ideally your equipment and trekking clothing (especially walking boots) should be well worn in and familiar to you before you travel.
We will have our own private transport for the duration of the trek and our baggage will be transported between venues each day. You will need to carry your own day pack each day containing your camera equipment, extra layers, waterproofs and water.
International flight baggage weight allowances will vary depending on airline but we will need to be mindful of how much equipment and weight we can carry in our day packs each day. Any spare equipment, lenses, laptops etc. that we don’t need during the day can be left in our main bags which we can access each evening on arrival at our hotel.
As photographers we appreciate that equipment weight limits are always a consideration both on flights and what we are physically able to carry. As it can sometimes be difficult to stick to these weight limits we do employ a few tricks of the trade. Wearing trekking boots and bulky down jackets on the flight saves space and weight as well as carrying your camera around your neck and perhaps sticking a lens or two into your jacket pockets.
With this type of expedition there is always a trade off in regards to what camera equipment to bring. The more equipment you bring then the heavier it is to carry and the harder and more tiring the trekking becomes.
Camera: Cameras are very much a personal choice and is dependent on individual preference, budget, and experience. Regardless of what camera you bring it is important that you are familiar with its controls, layout and menu system. Although carrying a second camera body is usually too bulky and heavy we do suggest bringing a back up compact camera in case of equipment malfunction.
Lenses: As with cameras, these come down to personal choice and there is always a trade-off to be made. As we will be predominantly shooting landscape, travel and portrait images, many photographers choose one or two zoom lenses. Something around 24-70mm is ideal for an everyday walk around lens. A longer lens e.g. 70-200mm is also nice to have but does come with size and weight issues.
Backpack & camera bag: You will need to carry a backpack large enough to accommodate both your camera equipment and day to day trekking gear. Your backpack should be comfortable allowing you to carry your equipment over rugged terrain. Backpacks with good, padded shoulder, waist and chest straps will help distribute the weight. Packs should also offer protection from wind, rain and dust. You will also need to consider what bag you’ll put your camera into whilst carrying it in your day pack. A close fitting camera bag is usually best but you may wish to experiment.
Tripod: Although not essential, bringing a tripod does open up the possibilities of night and long exposure photography. An ideal tripod needs to be light enough to carry comfortably but sufficiently robust to be used in windy conditions. In our opinion it is worth carrying the extra weight as the photographic opportunities are so good.
Filters: As with cameras and lenses, filters are a personal preference. A UV and polarising filter can be useful but bringing too many filters again comes with weight and size issues.
Accessories: Ensure that you have adequate memory cards. There are many photographic opportunities at every turn in the path. Due to the nature of this trek you may wish to bring: a supplementary hard drive and laptop in order to save and review your images each evening; a remote shutter release if you plan to bring a tripod; spare batteries and/or battery charger and cable; lens cloth and small micro fibre towel as the trails can get very dusty; spare lens cap; camera manual.
It is never possible to bring equipment for every eventuality on these treks. It is important to remember that if you bring too much kit, the effort required to carry it can spoil your trekking experience and chances of completing the trek.
On booking you will receive a full kit list in your welcome pack. We are happy to advise and suggest appropriate kit. You will need to bring the following essential items however:
- Trekking day pack and kit bag
- Sturdy walking boots
- Warm jacket
- Head Torch
- Trekking poles
- Trekking clothing
- Personal medication and first aid kit
The Booking Process:
Firstly contact us by email or phone to confirm that you wish to join us on your chosen trip. We will then forward a Booking Form and will require a 10% deposit to reserve your place. Once minimum numbers have been reached and the trip has been confirmed to run we will ask you for a further 40% to fully secure your place.
DO NOT BOOK ANY INTERNATIONAL FLIGHTS, INSURANCE OR VISAS UNTIL WE HAVE CONFIRMED THAT THIS TRIP WILL RUN.
We will then forward you a Welcome Pack with a detailed itinerary, kit list and other important information. At this point you will be able to book your International flights, visa and travel insurance. The balance of payment will be required no later than 90 days prior to departure. Please refer to our Terms and Conditions of booking.