Adventure Tourism: A Tortuous Climb Up China’s Great Wall

Getting to the top of one of the Seven Wonders of the Middle Ages is not for the faint-hearted.


The bus drops you off in Mutianyu Valley some 73 km from the Chinese capital, Beijing. On the adventure trip to discover the Great Wall of China through the Mutianyu Section. From here, you are transported by special bus on a narrower paved road up the slope to another point. Those who cannot stand the grueling climb up the mountain side take the cable car ride to Observation Post Number 12 about three km away. For others who want a taste of adventure, the tortuous climb up the steep stone-paved path commences.

Along the way, climbers take pauses after every few steps, gasping for breath in the bright morning sunlight. Plush Spring green trees and flowers along the neat path and all over the mountain sides however provide cover from the sun. With dangling legs and intermittent bites at sandwiches and gulps of refreshing water stocked in backpacks, both those climbing up and down the mountain are heard bitterly complaining of the exhausting nature of the supposed pleasure trip. After about an hour of never-give-up attempts, you arrive at the ancient architectural masterpiece.

Some 45 grueling minutes on, you manage to get to Observation Post Number 12 on the left side the wall where the cable car ride ends. Around you, hordes of other excited tourists who made it this far, take souvenir photo shots with the stunning ravines and sharp-pointed hilltops below. After the excitement, then begins the equally tough return trip as any error will send you crashing into the adjoining secondary forest. After about 25 minutes, you join other equally joyous colleagues in the valley who “came, saw and conquered the great wall.”

The Great Wall of China – the world’s longest wall and biggest ancient architecture – was constructed over 2,300 years ago. Using glutinous rice flour, millions of builders were able to bind the bricks and cut stones together. The wall covers a distance of 21,196.18 km, with an average height of over 7 metres and width of nine metres. It has several access points. About 10,000 tourists visit the wall through the Mutianyu Section at weekends. Elsewhere on other sections, tens of thousands throng the wall every day. Meanwhile, the entry fare (including shuttle bus round trip) costs 110 Yuan Renminbi (about 9,574 FCFA); while the optional cable car ride is 120 Yuan Renminbi (about 10,445 FCFA).

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