Camping on the Great Wall

My Slovenian roommates had friends coming into Beijing for a few days and they decided that they wanted to spend the weekend(过周末) camping(露营) on the Great Wall(长城). I had climbed the Great Wall before but I had never camped overnight(过夜) on it. It was definitely on my bucket list of things to do in Beijing. The main question was : How do we organize this trip?(我们该如何组织这次旅行呢?)

By waiting till the night before of course...

What did we need?

We needed to rent a van(租一辆车) to take us to the Great Wall. We needed snacks(小吃), flashlights(手电筒), toilet paper(卫生纸), beer(啤酒), and sleeping bags(睡袋).

My roommates(室友) kept on saying all week that we needed to plan(计划) out the trip. As the person with the strongest Chinese...what they really meant was I needed to plan the trip out. After a long week of work, I did not really want any type of leadership or responsibility role. I have been on trips(旅游) outside of the city before but I had never done any of the planning. I was happy to know that a Belgian guy who had been there before and a Chinese guy were joining our trip(加入了我们的旅程).

One of my roommates gave me a number of a van service(服务). Our plan was to go to Yunmeng Gorge to swim(游泳) in the afternoon, take the van to the Great Wall, and then hike up to this spot and set up camp. The van service initially gave us one price and then spiked up the price by almost 100 dollars. If there is anything you should know about China, you should know that everything is a negotiation(商量). A lot of times in China, you might get the foreigner price. After about 30 minutes of negotiations, we finally settled on a price.

day trip

All ten of us met at 7:30 am and headed to Yungmeng Gorge or yunmengxia(云蒙峡). We swam in this cozy beach area and enjoyed the nice summer day. A few hours later, we got back on the bus and headed to the Great Wall. Our van driver went on an unfortunate detour(绕行) and we got to the Great Wall around 5 or 6 o'clock.

Great wall hiking

We hiked up the wall and paid our 5 kuai to climb up the ladder. We were not in one of the main tourist areas(旅游区) of the Great Wall but instead on a more remote(偏僻), wild(荒凉), and rugged(崎岖) part of the wall. The hike was a little steep(险峻) and made me nervous to climb up. The most important thing was that we set everything up and had a good view of the sunset. We found shelter in this tower and got an amazing view(风景) of the sunset on the Great Wall.


Before the sun set(日落), we all collected wood so that we could start a fire. We found the perfect location at the top of the tower(塔楼). We all worked together to make a supply train to get all the food, booze, and timber up to the top. My roommate cooked potatoes(土豆), sweet potatoes(红薯), pumpkin(南瓜),eggplant(茄子), chicken(鸡肉), sausages(香肠), paprika(辣椒), and tomatoes(西红柿) over the open fire(火). We also ate a lot of canned tuna(金枪鱼罐头), bread(面包), and this spicy spread that one of her friends had brought from Slovenia. As the night progressed, more and more stars(星星) began to show. It was the perfect setting to relax(放松) with my friends under this blanket of stars while the warm fire cooked our food.

the open fire

The next day, my friends went hiking while I slept. We hiked down to the local village to catch the 1:15 bus(公共汽车) back to Huairou. From Huairou, we took three more buses until we got back our house in the city center. Crazily enough, we never actually left Beijing municipality even after three plus hours on a bus. Although the city center is filled with millions of people, you can still drive a few hours and find yourself surrounded beautiful nature(大自然).

Kristen Carusos is from Atlanta, Georgia in the United States. She graduated from Kennesaw State University with a major in International Affairs and a minor in French. She studied abroad in China for the first time in Shanghai in 2010 and again in 2011 at Beijing Language and Culture University. She graduated and moved to Beijing in 2012 and has been studying Chinese since then. She works in the Marketing Department at the Sinology Institute.