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Fri 18 Apr - Sun 27 Apr 2014

OVERVIEW

What to expect

ITINERARY

What you will do

COSTS

Ways to pay

ESSENTIAL INFO

All you need to know

Everything you need to know

This page provides you with a variety of information about the challenge that you might find useful.

Level of Difficulty

Money

Visa

Vaccinations

Flights

Insurance

Group Size

Leadership

Climate

Terrain and bikes

Luggage allowance and valuables

Responsible Tourism

Typical day

Accommodation

Food & Drink

Clothing and equipment

Toilets

Phone and WiFi

Safety

Emergencies

Training

Level of Difficulty

The Great Wall Cycle challenge is graded as “Tough”. This is a challenge for participants who already do a little bit of cycling, but want to train for something that will put themselves out of their comfort zone both physically and culturally.

You can tell your supporters that on your Great Wall Cycle challenge you will be:

  • Covering approximately 450km across 5 and a half days of cycling
  • Cycling for 105km and approximately of 8-9 hours on the longest day
  • Tackling some tough hills in the mountainous area of the Beijing district
  • Staying in basic lodges each night
  • Expecting a couple of the local lunchtime restaurants to be more local, using long drop toilets and more basic facilities
  • Battling temperatures of up to around 33 degrees

Money

Currency: The currency in China is the Yuan ¥. For up to date currency exchange, go to www.xe.com. We recommend exchanging currency before you go; however there are ATM’s and currency exchanges available at Beijing airport. You can only convert 100 Yuan notes (around £10 GBP) back in the UK, so make sure that you spend any extra change.

Credit Cards: Cards are not accepted at the lodges along the cycle route, therefore you should have sufficient currency with you before leaving the airport.

ATMs: You will have no access to ATMs or be able to use cards the days that you will be cycling but once back in Beijing you are able to withdraw cash if needed at ATMs.

How much to bring: All accommodation and meals are included within the price of the trip, as well as water during the days of your cycle. You will not need to carry a lot of money with you during the challenge, but as there are daily opportunities to buy soft drinks, alcohol and snacks we would suggest a maximum amount of about £15 a day (in Yuan). Bring more if you intend to buy souvenirs and take up the opportunity of the additional tours offered by the guides. You may have the opportunity of visiting an acrobat show (around £20) and enjoying a relaxing post-cycle massage (about £25) on your return to Beijing at the end of the trek, as well as souvenir shopping and visiting silk or jade factories. There are plenty of great souvenirs in China so do keep that in mind!

Tipping: Tipping is at your sole discretion and all staff are paid a fair wage. However, tourism is a tipping culture, and Chinese guides will generally receive a tip at the end of a job well done. If you choose to tip, we would suggest an amount of £35 - £40 per participant for the duration of the challenge (around 400 Yuan). For those on Charity Challenge organised extensions, we would suggest between £5 and £6 per person per day.

Visa

UK Citizens DO require a visa to enter China. You cannot obtain visas upon entry to China. We will supply you with the relevant form and application advice three months prior to departure, and if you would like to start having a look at the information you can visit the Chinese Visa Application website by clicking here. However, you should not apply before 3 months prior to departure due to the validity of the visa.

Vaccinations

For up to date vaccination information please check the NHS ‘Fit for Travel’ website: http://www.fitfortravel.nhs.uk/home.aspx. Although the Charity Challenge team are travel professionals, they are not medical experts and we would encourage you to visit your GP or travel nurse to discuss vaccination requirements. Your GP may ask questions about the specific locations that you are visiting in China, and as such it may be useful to take a copy of your itinerary with you.

Flights

You will be flying from London Heathrow to Beijing. The flying time is approx. 9-10 hours if flying non-stop or 14-16 hours if indirect. Your flight tickets will be issued to you upon departure at the airport.  If you choose to book your own flights please confirm with the Charity Challenge office first, otherwise you may be liable for your included group flights (please contact flights@charitychallenge.com for further assistance). For more general flights questions, please refer to our main FAQs page.

Insurance

It is a condition of booking that you have a suitable travel insurance policy whilst participating on the challenge. We have a special policy which covers among other things, medical (emergency, evacuation and repatriation) arrangements, cancellation and curtailment of the challenge, and more specifically for the adventurous activities undertaken on this challenge. If you have your own travel insurance policy, you must ensure that it provides at least the same level of cover as our recommended policy, including protecting the charity in the event of your cancellation 56 days or less prior to departure. If you choose not to purchase our recommended policy when you book we will send you a disclaimer which you should complete and return.

For more general travel insurance questions, please refer to our main FAQs page.

Group Size

Each group is intended to be 16 people minimum in order to run and maximum of approx. 30 people. We will be able to run this challenge for 10 to 15 people by charging a small group supplement of £75 which will be added to your final balance invoice (self funders) or charged to your charity (minimum sponsorship or flexi).

Leadership

There will be an English-speaking challenge leader who will be responsible for the logistics and co-ordination of your challenge. There will also be numerous local support staff to assist them. The challenge leader will be ultimately responsible for the running of the itinerary and the safety of your group.

Climate

China has the same seasons as the UK, but much more pronounced. April and May are the spring months, and as such the trees are blossoming – there are plenty of flowers around, which may affect hayfever sufferers. In September/October, the trees are losing their leaves and the mountains are surrounded by vibrant oranges and russet colours. Both seasons are incredibly beautiful. April/October will generally be cooler than May/September, although in all months you may experience wind chill up on the high points, and heat in the valleys. The nightly temperatures will be cool, particularly in April/October, and temperatures may drop to 8-10 degrees C. Warm layers will be necessary for the evening, but in the day you can expect to reach temperatures of around 20 degrees in early April/late October, and around 28 degrees in late May/early September.
Just like the UK, the weather is changeable, and these are rough guidelines.

Terrain and bikes

The route is mountainous, and will take place over a variety of busy but safe tarmac roads, and off road on dusty and gravelly tracks through local villages. The bikes are 21-speed with front suspension and v-brakes. They all have a water bottle holder, and you are able to bring your own gel seat or clip-in pedals if you would like to adapt the bike on arrival. Please indicate your height on your booking form so that we can book the correct size bike in advance.

Luggage allowance and valuables

The luggage allowance will depend on the airline we are using for your challenge, but in general it will be one piece of checked baggage at around 23kg. However, we suggest that for our Great Wall cycle challenge you should only need around 15kg-17kg. If you don’t need it, don’t bring it, is a good rule. For any valuables, safe deposit boxes are usually provided in Beijing for guests’ use in the hotels, but will not be available in the local lodges. Use a padlock on your luggage when in transit to reduce any risks. Carry your passport with you and make sure you have a photocopy of your documents (travel insurance etc.) in case they get lost or damaged.

Responsible Tourism

At Charity Challenge we are committed to sustainable and responsible tourism, and work closely with bodies such as the International Porter Protection Group and Climate Care to ensure that our challenges benefit the local environments and communities in which they take place. We ensure that all rubbish is disposed of responsibly, and following local guidelines on cultural and environmental protection and respect, we aim to limit our impact on the natural environment. In addition to taking these practical steps to ensure that our challenges are sustainable, we also make a contribution each year to a number of local community projects, so as to give something back directly to the communities that we visit. Since 2000 we have donated almost £200,000 to such projects, supporting a range of initiatives, including schooling for children in Africa, shelter for street children in Brazil, and Orang-utan conservation in Indonesia. We recommend that any gifts brought over for children are given to the UK challenge leader and distributed where needed by them and our local Ground Agent. If you wish to do more, you should consider buying drinks, postcards and souvenirs from the local vendors. For many, it is their sole source of income. For more information, please visit our Responsible Tourism pages, where you will be able to view a list of the projects that we currently support.

Typical day

You will wake at around 7am, pack up your bag and go to the hotel dining room for your breakfast. You will be given enough water for the day and you will put your main bags onto the coach to be transported to the next destination. Depending on the itinerary for the day you will either cycle straight out of the hotel, or have a short transfer to the start point of the cycle. You will be cycling for 6-9 hours each day and arriving in the late afternoon at your next accommodation. Specific hours of activity for each day are given in the itinerary.

Accommodation

On the cycle you will be staying in basic, but adequate, lodges or hotels. It may not be up to the standard expected in Western hotels, but you should have clean linen and hot water – everything you need! In the colder months of early April and late October, we recommend taking a sleeping bag for anyone who feels the cold in the night. Blankets are provided in the lodges, but a sleeping bag will increase your comfort. The hotels in Beijing will be of a three star standard and much more comfortable. All rooms are en-suite and have facilities for charging batteries. If you are travelling with a friend or partner who you wish to share with please ensure that you note this where appropriate when booking or email challenges@charitychallenge.com.

Food & Drink

Food is basic but filling. In recent years, breakfast has become more westernised, with eggs, tomato and cucumber, as well as cooked meats. Lunch will usually be a sandwich along with nuts, snacks and fruit. Dinner will consist of Chinese dishes and of course rice or noodles. There will, of course, be vegetarian options provided, although the choice is more limited. It is important that you eat as much as possible during the cycling phase in order to replace body salts lost due to increased perspiration. All participants but especially those with personal eating restrictions should bring snacks to supplement their meals. You may also wish to bring additional treats like marmite, peanut butter etc. as you will be eating Chinese food everyday – this can become monotonous for even the most adventurous eater!! The tap-water is not safe to drink. Bottled water will be provided during the cycling sections, and you can buy bottled water or soft drinks in hotels and lodges for meals (around 5 Yuan, or 50p). Please let Charity Challenge know prior to departure if you have any specific dietary requirements or allergies.

Clothing and equipment

Good quality, durable kit could mean the difference between a fantastic challenge experience and an uncomfortable one. For your cycle challenge, padded cycling shorts and comfortable footwear are essential, and helmets are compusory throughout. Training with your cycling shorts is definitely advised! You can bring equipment like clip-in pedals or a gel seat, if desired, in order to adapt your bike in country, and we would also recommend technical/wicking t-shirts rather than cotton shirts. If travelling in October, we would recommend full lenth leggings, full finger warm gloves and a warm fleece jacket as well. A full kit list for this challenge can be found here, and once you book you will have access to kit discounts with our partners The Outdoor Shop, Outdoorhire and Cotswold Outdoor.

Toilets

There will be en-suite toilet and washing facilities at the hotels and lodges; however, depending on the season hot water may be limited in some of the rural accommodation. On the cycle, your toilet stops will be limited to restaurants and cafes that you pass on route, or 'the great outdoors'!

Phone and WiFi

Most of the accommodation you are in will have limited WiFi which you will be able to use, but please do not rely upon this. Facebook and any Google-based applications (including Gmail) are blocked in China, so you will not have access to these sites or be able to post updates for your friends and family. You will have phone signal in almost all places on the challenge.

Safety

Charity Challenge considers the safety of all of our participants and staff to be a top priority, and as such we have set up Challenge Safe, one of the most advanced and thorough safety management systems in the industry. Challenge Safe formalises our ethos when it comes to safety, and brings together the procedures and risk management strategies that we use to audit all aspects of our challenges, from vehicles to accommodation to the challenge activity itself. Your welfare is absolutely paramount!

In terms of your Great Wall Cycle challenge, there are a couple of important points that you should be aware of:

  • Remember that they drive on the right in China, so you will be cycling on the other side of the road. Some junctions can also be busy; your leaders and guides will be signalling the junctions, and briefing you regularly on cycle safety in China.
  • The brakes on your bike will be the opposite way to normal. Be aware of this and ensure that you test the brake softly in order to become accustomed before starting the ride.
  • You will be cycling on some dirt roads, but also tarmac roads that can have more car users. Remember that in China you will be cycling on the right, and always signal when turning.
  • This trip takes place in the mountainous region around Beijing, and as such you wll be constantly ascending and descending the hills, which can cause knee and joint strain. If you have any existing knee injuries make sure that you highlight them on your booking form and bring any knee supports or other medication that you normally use. Train with very low gears on hills to reduce this strain. You are looking at some short bursts of gradients at 5-6%
  • Smoke alarms are not a legal requirement in China, and as such many of the lodges we use do not have them in place. Your leader will explain the emergency fire procedures to you.

Emergencies

The event is not run as a race and there is always a discrepancy in people’s cycling speed. This is allowed for. There will be a staff member at the back of the group at all times to ensure that you are not left behind and can take things at your own pace. In the event of an emergency all guides and leaders are maintaining contact via radio, and the backup vehicle will be following the group at all times.

Training

Training and fitness is definitely required. It is important that you work specifically on your stamina, core and leg strength in order to get the most out of the challenge. You will be taking on some immense hill climbs around the Beijing area, so wherever you are based in the UK you should try and get at least two consecutives days of hill riding in prior to the challenge.

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We hold an Air Travel Organiser's Licence granted by the Civil Aviation Authority. Our ATOL number is 6546. Many of the flight-inclusive challenges on this website are financially protected by the ATOL scheme. But ATOL protection does not apply to all holiday and travel services listed on this website. This ATOL protection only covers challenges that include flights booked by Charity Challenge and that originate in the UK. Please ask us to confirm what protection may apply to your booking. If you do not receive an ATOL Certificate then the booking will not be ATOL protected. If you do receive an ATOL Certificate but all the parts of your trip are not listed on it, those parts will not be ATOL protected. Please see our booking conditions for information or for more information about financial protection and the ATOL Certificate go to: www.atol.org.uk/ATOLcertificate

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