We visited the Great Wall at Mutianyu section, about 70 km northeast of Beijing. It was such an amazing place and completely incomprehensible to think that people have built it over 2000 years ago. It is impossible to understand the size of the wall before you see it for yourself. I was talking to my dad prior to our visit and playing with the idea of walking the whole wall from one end to the other. My dad just looked at me and bluntly said: "Do you know it's thousands of kilometres long?" Ok, so maybe not then.
It would have been a physically demanding task to walk the whole wall, not only because the total length of it, but also because the climbs up and down were really steep. I had thought that once you have climbed the few steps to the top you could just walk along the wall on a nice paved avenue, but no, it's almost totally steps: some of them are small: just 5-10 cm, but some were so high that you almost had to climb using both your feet and hands. Only small parts of the wall have been restored and conserved, and those parts are open to the visitors. The other parts have partly overgrown with trees and other flora and partly crumbled down into a pile of stones.
Can you see the watch tower on the top of the mountain? That's where we went first.
And of course we picked the harder side first. It was just a few steps down, and then a half an hour climb upwards in the 35 degree Celcius heat. It was worth it though, don't get me wrong. The wall is something amazing and should be on everyone's bucket list. We then came back down and decided to continue the other way for another half an hour. So we walked about 2 hours around the wall, and saw only a small section of it, maybe like on kilometre worth of the wall.
If you are going to visit Mutianyu section of the Great Wall, we recommend you take the cable car up and down. It costs another 80 RMB on top of the 45 RMB entrance fee (80 RMB is only like 10 €) but it's totally worth it! The tourist drop-off place for the buses and cars is at the bottom of the mountain, and the climb up the hill is a long one. We decided to take the cable car which was good, because then we had saved our energy to climbing the actual wall instead of just getting there.