On arrival in Beijing you will need to make your own way to the group hotel. Taxis are readily available. The remainder of the day is at leisure to explore Beijing before we meet in the hotel lobby at 6.30pm for a trip briefing with the group leader. Following the group meeting we will head out for our first group meal to sample some delicious local cuisine.
The Great Wall, stretching westwards for 6,400km, from China's eastern coast to the rugged mountain ridges north of Beijing and beyond, has become a national symbol of China.We leave Beijing early this morning for the 3hrs transfer out of Beijing to the Great Wall Jinshanling. This section is a mix of original the crumbling stones and turrets and restored parts where you can get a real sense of how the wall looked thousands of years ago. The views are stunning in every direction and you will have hundreds of great photo opportunities.
Tonight we stay in a small home-stay guest house near the Wall.
After a short road transfer (30 min) to the remote section of the Great Wall at Gubeikou, we begin our hike to the Mongolian village before continuing on to Jingshanling. The Gubeikou section is completely original, quite challenging and therefore one of the lesser visited sections. It has probably seen more battles than any other part of the Great Wall having long been a town of military significance and an important passage to the capital city. From ancient times Gubeikou has served as a route of strategic importance linking the southern and northern area of the Yanshan Range.
Overnight stay in same guest house.
This morning we transfer back to Beijing to enjoy a full day tour of its fascinating, historic sights. We will visit Tiananmen Square, the Forbidden City and the Temple of Heaven.
This morning we rise early and cycle out to a 'Hutong' area (narrow alley ways). These Hutong's are the location of historic Beijing homes made up of ramshackle dwellings and historic courtyard homes. Most of these areas have been swept away in the rush of China's mass development, but what is preserved is well worth a visit. This afternoon we transfer to the train station for our overnight train journey to Xian in comfortable air-conditioned sleeper cabins.
Cycling distance: ~5km
This morning we arrive in Xian, the traditional starting point of the Silk Road. The old walled city of Xian, the capital of Shaanxi Province, is a vivid example of old and new China. The modernized new city bustles around the quaint, winding lanes of the Old Quarter, where old men can be seen smoking pipes and watching the world go by, as butchers pull their carcass-laden carts and hawkers sell their wares.
After a leisurely morning cycle around the old city walls, we then transfer to the Terracotta Warriors. These warriors stand in their thousands outside the tomb of Qin Shihuang where they were uncovered in 1974 by peasants digging a well. Each warrior stands over 6 feet tall and has different features and characteristics. Some stand in a vanguard with crossbow and longbow bearers; others hold spears, daggers and axes at the ready. They are accompanied by dozens of horse-drawn carriages and enormous terracotta horses. The sight of the warriors arising from their muddy grave, some intact, others still submerged in the ground, is an extraordinary one.
Cycling distance: ~14km
Early this morning we transfer to the Xian airport for our flight to Lijiang, located in the colourful Southwestern province of Yunnan. Lijiang is the cultural centre and capital of the Naxi, a peoples descended from Tibitan nomads. The Old Town has stood for over 1000 years and once marked the final destination of an ancient Tibetan trading route. The Naxi make up the majority of the city's population and are distinguished by their vibrant blue traditional dress. Lisu, Pomi and Han Chinese also populate the city along with a small number of Tibetan people. The city has a thriving arts community and traditional music can often be heard whilst wending your way through the narrow cobbled streets and over the waterways and bridges of the UNESCO listed Old Quarter. To the north the stunning snow capped peaks of Jade Dragon Mountain commands our view, framing your photos. This evening there is an option to watch a traditional Naxi music performance.
After breakfast we continue our journey following the Yangtze River to marvel at the awe-inspiring views of Tiger Leaping Gorge. This gorge is one of the deepest in the world. The sight of the sheer cliffs, as they drop 3900m from the snow capped mountain tops of Haba Shan to the cool gushing waters of Shinsha River, are simply breathtaking.
The gorge is widely considered to rank amongst the most spectacular natural wonders in all of China. The starting point for our hike is the small town of Qiaotou, where we leave our large backpacks behind for a night, and take only the most basic essentials in a day pack, which are required to carry for the whole course of the trek. After a slow and steady climb on the high trail, we reach the 24 bends (the most challenging part of the trek), a steep and twisting path gaining some altitude. After stopping for a break we traverse along the gorge to our guesthouse. In the evening we are treated to a night of star gazing staying at a small guesthouse.
Today we continue our hike along Tiger Leaping gorge, gaining elevation from 2500m to 3400m. You will encounter locals along the way who use the route for their daily activities. After around 4-5hrs, we reach our destination for lunch. We then transfer back to Lijiang after which the remainder of the day is at leisure to rest and enjoy the delights of the Old Quarter.
This morning we catch a flight to Guilin from where we transfer to Yangshou, an idyllic town set amidst soaring limestone pinnacles on the banks of the Li River. The surrounding region is very beautiful, spotted with quaint villages and imposing karst rock formations. This area has long been the inspiration for generations of artists and pts. It is classed by many as the most spectacular area in the whole of China. The village itself has fantastic retail and dining options whilst retaining a laid-back ambiance.
We take a leisurely orientation walk around the west street to the local part and local markets. In the afternoon we enjoy a leisurely bike ride surrounded by beautiful countryside.
Today we enjoy the beautiful countryside by pedal power. We ride out south, wending our way between verdant rice paddies attended to by farmers and their water buffalo, down the valley flanked by towering karsts. We reach Moon Hill, famous for its impressive semicircular arch formation, the remains of what was once a large cave. There is a paved stepped path leading to the arch (~800 steps) and for those feeling more adventurous, you can ascend to the summit via a steep and rough path for which you will be rewarded with spectacular vistas. Ride back to town after which the evening is at your leisure.
Cycling distance: flexible ~20-30km
This morning we depart on a short bus transfer to the start point for our hike. Today's hike is a moderate 12km hike through beautiful countryside and quaint villages. Your guide will be happy to introduce you to friendly locals to learn of their rural lifestyles. In the afternoon, we relax aboard a bamboo raft as we cruise down the Li River - one the very best ways to enjoy the serene surroundings.
This morning we transfer to the Guilin train station to catch a bullet train to Shenzhen. Shenzhen is China's richest city and has become so in just 20 years, before which it was a poor fishing village.
Shenzhen straddles the lively border, teeming with transfers from mainland China to Hong Kong. After immigration and customs clearance, you will board a KCR train for the 45min ride to Hong Kong Hung Hom Station. Your guide will assisit you with hailing a taxi for your hotel or to catch the shuttle if heading directly to the airport.
Our trip concludes in Hong Kong, however ask our staff for information on Hong Kong accommodation packages. If you are heading straight to the airport it is best to book a flight departing after 5.00pm in case of any train or immigration delays.
Hong Kong is an intriguing, vibrant city well worth at least 2-3 days exploration. Best of all it is a very easy place to get around with an excellent transport system. Stay a while and take the historic Peak Tram to Victoria Park for the best views of Hong Kong; soak up the glittering skyline from the famous star ferry; try your hand at haggling in the Temple Street Markets or enjoy a "junk" boat ride to Lamma Island for a sumptuous seafood lunch. Please ask our reservations staff for accommodation options in Hong Kong.