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Zhenbiancheng Great Wall and Big Camp Plate Challenge

In Brief: One of our most challenging treks, covering a long section of wild wall in Beijing's northwest. Suited to experienced and fit hikers

The wild Great Wall in Huailai District

The Great Wall crossing hills and mountains in Huailai District.

Key information

  • 6–7 hours start to finish over 17km.

This hike is definitely not suitable for those who are not physically fit, are afraid of heights, or lack proper clothing and footwear, and we’re going to ask you some questions about your hiking experience as part of the reservation for this hike.

This is one of our favourite long hikes – a long trek that is as challenging as it is rewarding! On this route, we’ll get to enjoy a tough walk, incredible scenery, and a wild stretch of the Great Wall of China that is seldom visited.

We’ll start the day with a drive into Hebei Province that takes along a winding mountain road with some very impressive vistas of the surrounding valleys and peaks. The hike begins with a westward stroll up a broad valley along a dirt road crossing farmer’s terraces. To the south, we’ll have great views of imposing saw-toothed crags soaring towards the clouds. This stretch leading to the Great Wall is not too steep, but it is a nonstop uphill walk. Bushes and small branches impinge onto the trail at some points, but for the most part it is clear walking. It begins to get a little steep as we reach the crest of the ridge upon which the Wall sits, but we won’t have to scramble over anything too difficult.

There are hardly any level stretches along the section of the Great Wall that we’ll be hiking. Although the difference between the highest and starting elevations is around about 700 meters, we’ll actually end up climbing much more than that as the Wall rises and descends along the rolling ridgeline. Some of the uphill bits are very steep and will require us to use our hands to pull ourselves up. Also, there are a few downhill parts that we’ll have to take at a very deliberate pace, as they are slippery and also steep. Some parts of the Great Wall we’ll bypass altogether as they are now too dilapidated to safely and sustainably traverse.

We will hike along the Great Wall from Zhenbiancheng until we reach Big Camp Plate, which may already be familiar to some hikers. Once we leave the Great Wall, we’ll still have a little over an hour left of hiking. We’ll cross over fields along a trail that terminates at a concrete road. We will follow it down to the highway and meet our bus there.

What to bring on this hike

  • Lunch and plenty of snacks to keep your energy up
  • Warm clothes, gloves, and a hat in case the weather turns bad
  • Sun protection: long-sleeved shirt, hat
  • A bottle of sports drink with salt content (Gatorade, Pocari Sweat)
  • A waterproof jacket in case the weather changes
  • Strong and comfortable hiking boots
  • (Click here to read our full What to Bring on a Hike list)

Reasons you might not enjoy this hike

  • There are some steep climbs on loose footing while on the wall.
  • We need to keep moving at a fairly steady pace to complete the hike on time.

There are risks involved in hiking. Please read our Risk Acknowledgment and Waiver and inform yourself before participating.

Level5+

Level of difficulty

Level 5+ hikes are the most difficult hikes we do: long, with tough ascents and descents.They are physically challenging, and suitable for experienced hikers in good shape.

Is the level of difficulty suitable for me?

Hike statistics

  • Distance: 17km
  • Time to complete: 6–7 hours
  • Total ascent: 1,096m
  • Total descent: 909m
  • Start height: 796m
  • Peak: 1,350m
  • Finish height: 987m
  • Location: Huailai
  • Drive time: 2–2.5 hours each way

Hikes in Beijing

We publish our hike schedule month by month, with updates around the 10th of each month.

If you're interested in hikes and trips during a month that's not yet listed, use our contact form to let us know and we'll send you a quick email when the schedule is online.

Hike in Beijing calendar

See the Hike in Beijing schedule in our calendar


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All upcoming hikes in Beijing

Departure date: Wednesday, July 18
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Gubeikou Great Wall Loop

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Departure date: Thursday, July 19
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Great Wall Spur

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Departure date: Saturday, July 21
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Departure date: Saturday, July 21
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Flower Wood to Haizi Village

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Departure date: Sunday, July 22
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Jiankou to Mutianyu Great Wall

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Departure date: Sunday, July 22
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Intelligence Valley and Liyuan Library

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Departure date: Wednesday, July 25
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Longquanyu Great Wall to the Little West Lake

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Departure date: Thursday, July 26
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Stone Valley Great Wall Loop

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Departure date: Saturday, July 28
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Switchback Great Wall

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Departure date: Saturday, July 28
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Gubeikou Great Wall Loop

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Departure date: Sunday, July 29
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White River hike

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Departure date: Sunday, July 29
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Walled Village to Huanghuacheng Great Wall

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Departure date: Wednesday, August 1
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Gubeikou to Jinshanling Great Wall East

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Departure date: Thursday, August 2
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Middle Route of Switchback Great Wall

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Departure date: Saturday, August 4
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Vulture Rock Ridge loop hike

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Departure date: Saturday, August 4
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Longquanyu Great Wall to the Little West Lake

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Departure date: Sunday, August 5
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Yunmeng Gorge Swim or Explore

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Departure date: Sunday, August 5
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Gubeikou Great Wall Loop

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Departure date: Wednesday, August 8
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Jiankou to Mutianyu Great Wall

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Departure date: Thursday, August 9
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Walled Village to Huanghuacheng Great Wall

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Departure date: Saturday, August 11
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Stone Valley Great Wall Loop

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Departure date: Saturday, August 11
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White River hike

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Departure date: Sunday, August 12
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Great Wall Spur

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Departure date: Sunday, August 12
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Waste-Free Wall: Clean up the Jiankou ‘Big West’ Great Wall

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Departure date: Wednesday, August 15
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Longquanyu Great Wall to the Little West Lake

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Departure date: Thursday, August 16
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Middle Route of Switchback Great Wall

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Departure date: Saturday, August 18
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Gubeikou to Jinshanling Great Wall East

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Departure date: Saturday, August 18
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Dragon Cloud Mountain and White River

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Departure date: Sunday, August 19
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Walled Village to Huanghuacheng Great Wall

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Departure date: Wednesday, August 22
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Gubeikou Great Wall Loop

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Departure date: Thursday, August 23
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Great Wall Spur

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Departure date: Saturday, August 25
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Big Camp Plate Village and Hengling Valley

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Departure date: Saturday, August 25
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Stone Valley Great Wall Loop

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Departure date: Sunday, August 26
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Jiankou to Mutianyu Great Wall

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Departure date: Sunday, August 26
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White River hike

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Departure date: Wednesday, August 29
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Longquanyu Great Wall to the Little West Lake

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Departure date: Thursday, August 30
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Middle Route of Switchback Great Wall

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Departure date: Saturday, September 1
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Gubeikou West Circuit (Route 2)

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Departure date: Saturday, September 1
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Great Wall: Huanghuacheng to the Little West Lake

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Departure date: September 1–2 (Sat–Sun)
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Camping: Gubeikou Great Wall and Jinshanling Great Wall

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Departure date: Sunday, September 2
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Big Black Mountain to the Walled Village

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Departure date: Sunday, September 2
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Gubeikou Great Wall Loop

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Departure date: Wednesday, September 5
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Great Wall Spur

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Departure date: Thursday, September 6
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Walled Village to Huanghuacheng Great Wall

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Departure date: Saturday, September 8
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Yanqing Great Wall and High Tower Challenge

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Departure date: Saturday, September 8
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Stone Valley Great Wall Loop

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Departure date: Sunday, September 9
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Gubeikou Great Wall Loop

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Departure date: Sunday, September 9
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Walk Down The Incense Trail to Dajue Temple

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Departure date: Wednesday, September 12
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Jiankou to Mutianyu Great Wall

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Departure date: Thursday, September 13
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Middle Route of Switchback Great Wall

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Departure date: Saturday, September 15
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Yellow Grass Plateau and Seven Towers

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Departure date: Saturday, September 15
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Great Wall: Huanghuacheng to the Walled Village

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Departure date: September 15–16 (Sat–Sun)
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Camping: Switchback Great Wall

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Departure date: Sunday, September 16
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Great Wall Spur

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Departure date: Sunday, September 16
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Shunyi Hikers: Yajishan Temple Circuit

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Departure date: Wednesday, September 19
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Longquanyu Great Wall to the Little West Lake

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Departure date: Thursday, September 20
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Gubeikou to Jinshanling Great Wall East

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Departure date: Saturday, September 22
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Over the Hills to Dajuesi

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Departure date: Saturday, September 22
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Gubeikou Great Wall Loop

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Departure date: Saturday, September 22
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Sunset over the Huanghuacheng Great Wall

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Departure date: Sunday, September 23
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Stone Valley Great Wall Loop

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Departure date: Sunday, September 23
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Chinese Knot Great Wall

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Departure date: September 23–24 (Sun–Mon)
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Camping: Gubeikou Great Wall and Jinshanling Great Wall

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Departure date: Monday, September 24
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Jiankou to Mutianyu Great Wall

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Departure date: Monday, September 24
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Triangle Hike

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Departure date: Wednesday, September 26
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Gubeikou Great Wall Loop

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Departure date: Thursday, September 27
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Longquanyu Great Wall to the Little West Lake

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Departure date: Saturday, September 29
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Shuitou Village Loop hike

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Departure date: Saturday, September 29
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Gubeikou to Jinshanling Great Wall East

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Departure date: September 29–30 (Sat–Sun)
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Camping: Switchback Great Wall

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Departure date: Sunday, September 30
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Great Wall Spur

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Departure date: Monday, October 1
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Over the Hills to Yaji Mountain

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Departure date: Monday, October 1
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Great Wall: Huanghuacheng to the Walled Village

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Departure date: Tuesday, October 2
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The Pinnacle Tower

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Departure date: Wednesday, October 3
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Longquanyu Great Wall to the Little West Lake

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Departure date: Wednesday, October 3
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Zhuangdaokou to the Walled Village

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Departure date: Thursday, October 4
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Great Wall Spur

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Departure date: Friday, October 5
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Zhenbiancheng Great Wall Loop Hike

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Departure date: Friday, October 5
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Sunset over the Huanghuacheng Great Wall

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Departure date: Saturday, October 6
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The High Tower Loop hike

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Departure date: Saturday, October 6
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Stone Valley Great Wall Loop

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Departure date: October 6–7 (Sat–Sun)
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Camping: Gubeikou Great Wall and Jinshanling Great Wall

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Departure date: Sunday, October 7
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Gubeikou Great Wall Loop

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Trip dates: August 10–12, 2018

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Trip dates: August 15–19, 2018

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In Brief: See the fantastically-coloured mountains and cliffs in an all-but unexplored area of Gansu; visit Horse Hoofprint Temple, Jiayuguan Fortress, and more.

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Trip dates: September 20–24, 2018

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In Brief: See the Southern Silk Road sights of Dali and its surrounds, travelling by foot, bicycle, and as part of a mule train as we visit ancient towns and temples on the ancient Tea and Horse Trail and camp out on Cang Mountain.

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