Leaving the Four Seasons at 8:30AM, we’re on the way to the Great Wall today, about 2 hours north. Our destination is a bit further than other tour companies use, but should also provide a quieter, less crowded access point. Arriving early (which is unheard of with Beijing traffic), we’re the only bus in the parking lot by about 10:15. With unique close-in access, our bus parks only a few feet from the actual wall. Leaving the coach, the local souvenir vendors each “pick” one of our group to be our climbing assistant. Later these helpful assistants will of course display their wares, picture books, t-shirts, fans and other items for purchase.
Before lunch several of us hike to the “wild area” of the wall – the areas that have not been refurbished recently. In just under an hour of hiking, we see only about 4 other visitors. Our slightly more distant location from Beijing along with being late in the tourist season has provided nearly private access to this section of the wall.
Our lunch will be served 300 steps up in one of the open air watch towers near the General’s Tower. After our hiking, we rejoin the main group for a delicious lunch of a salads, breads, cheese and a sumptuous chocolate desert. After a bit more exploring toward the General’s Tower, we’re back to the parking lot, make our souvenir purchases and board the coach bound for central Beijing.
This has been an amazing day – with great weather and very unique access to one of the world’s most interesting areas. A definite Bucket List item for many of us.