The Great Wall of China. An impressive spectacle, a relic of a bygone era. Traveling to the Great Wall of China is a must-do experience for everyone. Considered by many to be one of the Seven Wonders of the World, the Great Wall of China is beautiful and breath-taking. Spanning over 3,000 miles (some estimates that include trenches, off-shoots and natural boundaries put the total over 10,000 miles) in length, there are many different places along the wall to visit and get a feel for the grandeur. After careful research and consultation with the travel experts at Caldwell Travel, I decided to visit the Mutianyu section of the Great Wall.
A stone lion near the base of the Great Wall in Mutianyu! More specifically, a Chinese Guardian Lion, looking to protect the Great Wall and intimidate would-be attackers. In Chinese culture these lions were believed to have powerful mythic protective benefits.
I chose to visit the Mutianyu section of the Great Wall for several reasons:
1. It is located about an hour north of Beijing. Far enough away to discourage most tourists (there are other access points that are closer to Beijing), but close enough to be an easy day trip.
2. The cable car! To get from the park at the bottom of the hill to the Mutianyu section of the Great Wall they installed a great cable car system that is a lot of fun to ride.
3. The Mutianyu section is unique in that it is surrounded by mostly forested area, the wall itself has been very well maintained, and the wall is a bit taller and wider than other sections, making it better to photograph.
Here you can see a group of cable cars waiting to fill up with passengers to go up the mountain. I learned on my return trip down the mountain that First Lady Michelle Obama visited the Great Wall at Mutianyu in the spring of 2014. I know this because the cable car I rode in had a sticker across the top of the whole window that told me so (I also looked it up online to confirm).
And here is the view from inside a cable car, looking up the mountain. It was a short but fun ride in the chairlift/gondola to the top of the Mutianyu section of the Great Wall. Definitely a unique way to travel! If you’re not a fan of heights, don’t worry – the ride will be over in just a few minutes. Enjoy the views of the Great Wall on your way to the top!
There will be hiking. One of the many things I enjoyed about visiting the Mutianyu section of the Great Wall is that it is basically a choose-your-adventure game. If you desire, you can hike for hours and see as much of the 3,000+ mile long wall as you’d like. Or, you can go at a more leisurely pace and see a few key high points that give you a great perspective of your surroundings (see the next photo).
It is views like this that took my breath away and make me glad to have visited the Mutianyu section of the Great Wall. If you look very closely you can count two people in this photo. Two! It was amazing to be nearly alone on the wall, enjoying the beautiful scenery.
First built in the 6th century, the Mutianyu section of the Great Wall of China spans 1.5 hilly miles. It is between 23 and 26 feet high and approximately 15 feet wide. As you can see in the photo above, there are notches on both sides of the wall to allow for archers to defend from attackers. This section of the wall was used by many emperors as a protective screen to the north, to shield Beijing, the capital city.
Stretching for miles, The Great Wall of China is an impressive feat of engineering and a real spectacle to behold. The photos I took did not do it justice, you must see it for yourself. The Mutianyu section of the Great Wall is unique in several respects, especially for the guard houses that are positioned periodically. There are 22 of them in this 1.5 mile long stretch of the Great Wall.
This is my favorite photo from the hundreds that I took on my visit to the Mutianyu section of the Great Wall. It was a cloudy day, but it was awesome to see the mountains and forest surround the Great Wall. With very little in the way of crowds, it was easy to imagine that you were back in ancient China, patrolling the Great Wall.
Interested in a visit to China? Have any specific questions or just want to plan a trip to the Great Wall of China? We book vacation packages flying round trip out of Indianapolis International Airport. Call us at 317-885-9855 today to get started.
This is another installment in our Travel Correspondent’s Notebook series, where one of Caldwell Travel‘s own representatives reports on their travel experiences in a location. This entry comes from Brett Godfrey, a travel photographer.