I suspect that relatively few people will have the time and commitment to explore more than one or two sections of the Great Wall. The overwhelming majority of those who visit the Wall will do so as part of an organised package tour (as I did) - despite the helpful advice on visiting the Wall independently. Don't be put off this Reader just because you are only going to see one small section. It tells you far more than the guide has time for. I went to China armed with the appropriate Rough Guide which devotes about 4 pages (albeit of small print)- and does not do it justice. ‘Explore the Great Wall’ gives you the background history and descriptions of the other sections of the Wall that enabled me to put the tourist section (at Badaling) into context. It helped me realise that there is great variety in the Eastern sections of the Wall. In fact, the first revelation was that my schoolboy concept of a continuous Great Wall was far from reality: as the maps show, there are several Walls dating from different dynasties and they are far from continuous. I am less convinced about the general information on planning and preparation because there is insufficient room within this compact, rucksack-sized publication for all of the detail I think you need to plan and execute a trip to China (unless you are very accustomed to ad hoc travel). The real value of this book lies in the history of the construction of the Great Wall and the detailed descriptions of the sections that are within reasonably easy reach of Beijing. The photographs are, as in the other Rucksack Readers, excellent and far better than those I took, in November, on an overcast day when it was starting to snow! My reward was that I was almost alone on the Badaling section (described in the Reader as the single most visited place on the Wall). Perhaps no one ever died of loneliness on the Badaling section: I might have died of exposure had I not kept warm climbing uneven sets of steps and marvelling at the atmospheric views that appeared through the mists. This book is a must for anyone visiting the Great Wall – whether as a walker or a member of an organised tour.
Explore the Great Wall is a guide detailing various walkable sections along the Great Wall of China. This guide includes eight parts of the wall to traverse. These sections range from a short hour long walk at Laolongtou and Shanhaiguan to full day long walks from Simatai to Jinshanling, along the Mutianyu section, and along the Badaling section of the Great Wall. In this way, individuals can walk sections of the Great Wall according to their own schedule and time constraints.
Despite common perception, the Great Wall of China is not and has never been a complete continuous wall across China. In fact, the individual structures collectively called the Great Wall is a number of wall sections built, demolished, and rebuilt throughout the various periods of Chinese history beginning around 1000 BCE. Due to this periodic building and rebuilding process, various sections of the wall were built using a variety of materials types and an assortment of architectural forms depending upon the particular dynastic regime building the particular wall section. Revitalization and rebuilding of various unwalkable wall sections is constantly being completed in an effort to rebuild individual sections to their previous state.
Most of the eight wall sections described in Explore the Great Wall were made during the Ming dynasty, 1368-1644. During this period, many earthen sections of the wall were replaced by masonry. Thus, these Ming dynasty sections look like the Great Wall as most people commonly perceive it. Along these routes are ample opportunities to see and visit towers, and tombs dating from the Ming dynasty. Moreover, the scenery along these walkable sections is simply breathtaking.
Explore the Great Wall outlines not only the background of the building episodes of the Great Wall and the various walkable sections of the wall (including full color maps) but also details various long walking and hiking fundamentals. These details include what types of equipment the participant should bring to complete the walk, how long the various sections of the journey will take, and how temperature and seasonality will affect the walk. There are also helpful tips especially for novices about daily mileage, feet, weight, and the right gear.
A surprisingly complete and concise guide to the Great Wall. Covered all the sections we walked in our week long trek. Plus information on the history of the Wall, Chinese language and culture. Full of great photos too. This is not the book to get if you are looking for a more detailed history of the Wall or you are venturing into the more remote sections. It does, however, provide a valuable introduction to the most accessible parts of the Wall.
This book was a present I gave so I am not the end user however I did have a look through it and it seemed to have some very useful information and maps. It is light and compact so useful if suitcase weight is limited.