If you’re looking to hike the Great Wall but want a more challenging experience doing so, camping on the Great Wall is a great option for you!
For the 2019 National Holiday in China I went camping on a wild section of the wall with Great Wall Fresh. I’ve been to many other sections of the Great Wall before, but never stayed over night. Camping on the Great Wall has always been on my bucket list and I’m glad I finally did it.
It was challenging and the hardest hike I’ve done on the Great Wall, but it was an exciting and different way to experience the Great Wall of China and was totally worth it!
First Time Visiting the Great Wall? Check out my post: Which Section of the Great Wall Should You Visit?
Plan a Trip to Great Wall Fresh
Great Wall Fresh is one of the more well-known options for camping on the wall. Rather than planning everything by yourself, they’ve created a well-organized trip that helps you camp on the wall and experience a real local China.
To see my full experience with Great Wall Fresh and camping on the wall, watch my Instagram Highlight! You’ll also see me drop my sleeping bag down the wall hahaha.
You can book a trip with Great Wall Fresh through their website or WeChat contact. For your trip you can choose to stay at their home in one of their rooms overnight, or rent camping equipment from them (which includes a tent, mat, and sleeping bag) to sleep on the wall. They will pick you up from the metro station (most likely Huilongguan on line 13) and drive you to their home about 2 hours away.
You can choose to have food included in your trip, which I recommend! We ate before hiking the wall and also the next day after hiking down. The food is home-cooked delicious Chinese dishes that vary depending on the season.
Our dishes included cauliflower, potatoes and chicken, bean sprouts, fried egg and tomato, fried eggplant, rice, and even french fries. It was the perfect (and most filling) way to start and end our hike.
Hiking up the Wild Great Wall
After eating our late lunch, Mr. Chen’s son drove us to the start of the wall, called Chenjiapu (named after the Chen family). There are actually two ways up to this section, and this is the map of it posted in their house. You can choose a shorter but steeper hike up on the left, or a longer hike on a more wild section of the wall further on the right side.
The left side goes uphill 40 minutes through a trail in the trees, where you’ll reach the wall and climb a ladder onto it. This part of the wall is a bit more restored and not rocky, but it is very steep! You hike a bit to a flatter area where you can pitch your tent in a guard tower or one of the flat areas.
If you go from the right side though, you’ll hike on the Wild Wall Section. Wild wall sections retain their original appearance with no renovation. They are un-restored and untouched, whereas more popular sections of the wall like Mutianyu and Badaling and been restored to make it easier for visitors to hike.
We hiked on the Wild Wall side, which was challenging and long, but very beautiful! It was amazing to be on a trail that hadn’t been repaired at all, with trees and brush growing up over the man-made paths.
We reached the camping areas by sunset and enjoyed the evening with wine to celebrate reaching the top after 2.5 hours.
Unfortunately in the middle of the night it started raining and became extremely cold! Our little tents were no match and many of our things became wet. Just check the weather before you plan a trip and know unexpected things will happen like this.
We still woke early to see if the sunrise would be clear and it wasn’t… it’s just how it goes sometimes.
Hiking Back Down Chenjiapu Great Wall
That morning we packed our gear and hiked down the other side. We were very glad we chose to hike up the other way! It was very steeping hiking down and I’m sure it was a crazy leg work out going up!
We had more great Chinese dishes after walking back to Mr. Chen’s place, then his son drove us back to the metro station again.
Camping on the Great Wall with Great Wall Fresh
Would I camp again on the Great Wall? Absolutely. Would I go with Great Wall Fresh? Yes definitely.
I love hiking and being in the mountains, so any chance I get to do that makes me a happy camper (ha). I’m a bit disappointed we didn’t get to see the sunrise and we had rain – that’s the first time it rained in awhile in Beijing, so we were very unlucky it happened to be this night! In the future I’d recommend going earlier in the season when it’s warmer at night as well.
Also make sure you come well prepared for any weather, no matter the season. Bring along food and snacks for the wall, as there isn’t anywhere to buy things like other sections. You can buy water at Mr. Chen’s before you hike, but stock on snacks before getting picked up at the subway.
Overall, this trip is perfect for outdoor lovers and hikers, and those wanting a more engaged and challenging experience to hike and camp on the wall.
Not sure you want to camp on a wild section? Check out my post for more Which Section of the Great Wall You Should Visit for more information about other sections to visit.