Sat 13 Oct - Sun 21 Oct 2018

In aid of Cancer Research UK

Cancer Research UK

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

Typical day

Safety

Responsible Tourism

Terracotta Warriors extension

Warriors & Pandas extension

Flights

Visa

Insurance

Vaccinations & medicines

Climate & Terrain

Training

Training weekends

Luggage allowance & valuables

Leadership

Group Size

Clothing & equipment

Accommodation & Toilets

Food & Drink

Money

Phone & Wi-Fi

Emergencies

Level of Difficulty

The Great Wall Discovery trek is graded as challenging. A “challenging” trip will test someone who is relatively fit and has a spirit of adventure. You may have had some previous experience, but this is not necessary as long as the correct training is undertaken. A “challenging” trip may involve some altitude, but this will be compensated by easier terrain and trekking conditions.

You can tell your supporters that on your Great Wall Discovery Challenge you will be:

  • trekking for around 4-7 hours per day, covering approximately 50kms over 5 days.
  • trekking up and down thousands of stairs.
  • exposed to the elements, rain, wind or sunshine along the wall.
  • trekking on un-renovated sections of the wall, with tricky terrain
  • taking on sections at height with drops at either side
  • staying in basic lodges each night

Typical day

You will wake at around 7am, have breakfast, make your packed lunch and pack your daypack for the next section of the walk. You will be given enough water for the day and your packed lunch to carry. The rest of your luggage will be transported for you to the next destination. At around 8.30/9am we will begin the day’s walk, stopping for lunch at a scenic spot on the wall around midday. You will be walking for 4-7 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.

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 Discovery challenge, there are a couple of important points that you should be aware of:

  • The wall is very exposed, with almost no shade, and on sunny days the temperatures can soar. You should ideally be wearing a sun hat, sun cream, and hydrating constantly.
  • Some areas of the wall are very remote, with no car access, and emergency evacuation may take up to 4 hours. However, there are several escape routes off the wall and the nearest medical facilities will be by stretcher and then vehicle.
  • Certain sections are un-renovated, with crumbling and uneven terrain, and some steep drops at either side. Your leader will help you get through these sections if you have a fear of heights!
  • 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.
  • On the final day of the trek there is the opportunity to ride on a toboggan run on the wall. Charity Challenge strongly discourages the use of the toboggan run, and if you choose to do so this will be at your own risk. Also be aware that the Charity Challenge travel insurance policy will not cover you for this specific activity.

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.

Terracotta Warriors extension

DAY 9 FREE DAY IN BEIJING AND BOARD THE OVERNIGHT TRAIN TO XIAN
Today has been left free for you to make the most of Beijing's many attractions. There is a possibility of joining an optional tour to the majestic Summer Palace, described by UNESCO as a masterpiece of Chinese landscape garden design. Other options include a visit to one of the city's  bustling markets, before an early dinner precedes the boarding of the overnight train to Xian. Please note: You will be occupying four-berth, air-conditioned cabins on the train. These will be unisex. Breakfast and dinner are included.

DAY 10 ARRIVE XIAN. VISIT TERRACOTTA WARRIORS & XIAN GRAND MOSQUE
One of the oldest cities in China, Xian once lay at the start of the famous Silk Road. Arriving in the city this morning, you will be transferred on to your hotel in time for breakfast and a chance to freshen up. After paying a visit to Xian's Grand Mosque, you'll then continue on to the Terracotta Warriors Museum, without doubt one of China's most revered archaeological sites. Lunch and a dumpling dinner are included today and this evening you will enjoy a performance of the renowned Tang Dynasty cultural show. Breakfast, lunch and dinner are included.

DAY 11 YANGLING TOMB & AFTERNOON IN BEIJING
Following breakfast you will pay a visit this morning to the 2,000 year old Yangljng Tombs, the final resting place of the fourth emperor of the Western Han Dynasty. Later you will then fly back to Beijing, to spend your final night in the Chinese capital. Dinner is not included this evening, affording you an opportunity to make your own plans to enjoy some of the rich culinary diversity the city has to offer. Breakfast included.

DAY 12 MORNING IN BEIJING, AFTERNOON FLIGHT TO UK
Depart on international flight back to the UK, arriving at London Heathrow the same day. (B)

IMPORTANT INFORMATION ABOUT THE TERRACOTTA WARRIORS EXTENSION

Included:

Overnight train to Xian. You will be booked in a four-berth cabin, which may require you to share with members of the opposite sex. To secure a single sex cabin a supplement will apply. Please enquire with challenges@charitychallenge.com for the additional information regarding any supplement, subject to availability.
All transfers
Accommodation on twin share basis in Xian at the 4* Le Garden hotel and in Beijing at the 3* Holiday Inn Express Temple of Heaven*
All sightseeing, entrances and meals as mentioned in the above itinerary

Excluded:

Additional optional sightseeing in Beijing on Day 9
Personal expenses (i.e.: gifts, extra soft drinks or alcohol, laundry, etc)
Any tips for local team (guides, drivers, etc.)
Please note that this extension is subject to minimum numbers and flight availability and should be booked no later than 14 weeks prior to departure. In some cases a surcharge may need to be applied, in which case we will inform you prior to confirming your booking. Full payment must be received no later than 8 weeks prior to departure or your place on the extension may be cancelled. All bookings will be confirmed no later than 6 weeks prior to departure.

The advertised costs for this extension are per person on twin sharing basis. If you are a solo passenger, we will accommodate you in a room with someone of the same sex.

*Please note that we reserve the right to change accommodation. Where this is necessary, alternative accommodation will be of an equal or better standard.

Warriors & Pandas extension

DAY 9 FREE DAY IN BEIJING AND BOARD THE OVERNIGHT TRAIN TO XIAN

Today has been left free for you to make the most of Beijing's many attractions. There is a possibility of joining an optional tour to the majestic Summer Palace, described by UNESCO as a masterpiece of Chinese landscape garden design. Other options include a visit to one of the city's  bustling markets before an early dinner precedes the boarding of the overnight train to Xian. Please note: You will be occupying four-berth, air-conditioned cabins on the train. These will be unisex. (B, D)

DAY 10 ARRIVE XIAN. VISIT TERRACOTTA WARRIORS & XIAN GRAND MOSQUE

One of the oldest cities in China, Xian once lay at the start of the famous Silk Road. Arriving in the city this morning, you will be transferred on to your hotel in time for breakfast and a chance to freshen up. After paying a visit to Xian's Grand Mosque, you'll then continue on to the Terracotta Warriors Museum, without doubt, one of China's most revered archaeological sites. Lunch and a dumpling dinner are included today and this evening you will enjoy a performance of the renowned Tang Dynasty cultural show. (B,L,D)

DAY 11 TRAIN TO CHENGDU, SICHUAN PROVINCE

Today you take the 3-hour express train from Xian to Chengdu, home to the world-renowned Giant Panda.  On arrival, you will be transferred to a centrally located hotel and take a tour to Kuan and Zhai Alley or the Jinli Market Street which showcases the Chengdu folk culture including the Sichuan embroidery and shadow play. (B,L,D)

DAY 12 VISIT PANDAS. FLY BACK TO BEIJING

Driving the short distance to the research centre this morning, you will then spend some two to three hours enjoying a rare opportunity to learn more about its work as one of the world's most important panda breeding sanctuaries. Following the visit, there will be some free time in Chengdu before boarding the flight back to Beijing, where you will have a free evening to make the most of your final night back in the capital. (B, D)

DAY 13 FLY BACK TO UK

After a final chance to make the most of some free time this morning, you will then transfer to Beijing International Airport for the return flight to London, arriving back in London Heathrow later the same day. (B)

IMPORTANT INFORMATION ABOUT THE WARRIORS & PANDAS EXTENSION
Included:

Overnight train to Xian. You will be booked in a four-berth cabin, which may require you to share with members of the opposite sex. To secure a single-sex cabin a supplement will apply. Please enquire with challenges@charitychallenge.com for the additional information regarding any supplement, subject to availability.
All Internal flights
All transfers
Accommodation on twin share basi
All sightseeing, entrances and meals as mentioned in the above itinerary

Excluded:

Additional optional sightseeing in Beijing on Day 9
Personal expenses (i.e.: gifts, extra soft drinks or alcohol, laundry, etc)
Any tips for local team (guides, drivers, etc.)
Please note that this extension is subject to minimum numbers and flight availability and should be booked no later than 14 weeks prior to departure. In some cases, a surcharge may need to be applied in which case we will inform you prior to confirming your booking. Full payment must be received no later than 8 weeks prior to departure or your place on the extension may be cancelled. All bookings will be confirmed no later than 6 weeks prior to departure.

The advertised costs for this extension are per person on twin sharing basis. If you are a solo passenger, we will accommodate you in a room with someone of the same sex.

*Please note that we reserve the right to change accommodation. Where this is necessary, alternative accommodation will be of an equal or better standard.

 

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.

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 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.

You will need to attend the Chinese Visa Application Service Centre yourself to process your application or apply by post, which costs extra.

Prices are subject to change by the Chinese Embassy and will be confirmed upon your application. Your passport must have at least six months to run from the end of your challenge and one blank page for your visa. 

Note:

The visa form requires a “yes” or “no” answer to the following question:
Are you experiencing any of the following conditions?
1.    Serious mental disorder
2.    Infectious pulmonary tuberculosis
3.    Other infectious disease of public health hazards
If you have any concerns about this question please refer to your GP/Health Clinic and note that you may be asked by the visa office for further information and a fit to travel note to support your travel to China.

 

Insurance

It is a condition of travelling with Charity Challenge that you have a suitable travel insurance policy which covers you for your entire 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 must complete and return to Charity Challenge prior to travel.

On your Great Wall Discovery itinerary there is the opportunity to ride on a toboggan run at the end of your day’s trek. Please note that, if you choose to ride the toboggan, you do so at your own risk and you will be not covered if you have taken out Insurance as recommended by Charity Challenge. We strongly discourage using the toboggan run and cannot vouch for its safety. Your decision to ride the toboggan should take this into account.

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

Vaccinations & medicines

For up to date vaccination information please check the Travel Health Pro website:https://travelhealthpro.org.uk/country/49/china#Vaccine_recommendations

Charity Challenge team 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 so it may be useful to take a copy of your itinerary with you.

Medication

  • carry medicines (including those bought over the counter) in their correctly labelled container, as issued by the pharmacist, in hand luggage
  • consider packing a spare supply of medication in the hold luggage in case of loss of hand luggage
  • a letter from the prescriber detailing the medicines with the generic names for the medications can be helpful for border control checks, and in case medicines have to be replaced or medical help is required
  • carry a note from the prescribing physician on letterhead stationery for controlled substances and injection medications
  • take out an appropriate level of travel health insurance including repatriation and specific cover for any pre-existing illnesses

N.B.  Some medications are banned abroad so please check you can find further information at https://travelhealthpro.org.uk/factsheet/43/medicines-abroad

Climate & Terrain

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 Wall is surrounded by vibrant oranges and russet colours. Both seasons are incredibly beautiful. April/October will be much colder than May/September, although in all months you may experience wind chill up on the ridges of the Wall, and heat in the valleys. The nightly temperatures will be cold, particularly in April/October, and temperatures may drop to around 5 degrees. 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. Like the UK, the weather is changeable, and these are rough guidelines.

Terrain

The route is mountainous and the wall involves a trek incorporating thousands of steps up and down. There are also steep drops either side of the wall so please take this into account if you suffer from vertigo. Some areas of the Wall are completely unrenovated, and so you may be trekking up some overgrown, crumbly paths in your quest to conquer the Wall!

Training

Training and fitness is definitely required. It is important that you work specifically on your stamina, leg and joint strength, and balance in order to get as much out of the challenge as possible. You will be trekking up and down thousands of steps so climb stairs as often and wherever you can! The trek takes place in a mountainous environment, so the best training advice is to get outdoors into some of the mountains of the UK to familiarise yourself with walking on rugged terrain, while carrying weight in your daypack. You need to be able to sustain around 4-7 hours of trekking for 5 continuous days, so if you can then replicating this over a weekend would be fantastic training. You can also look to join one of our training weekends.

Training weekends

We offer superb training weekends across various locations in the UK, from Saturday morning to Sunday afternoon. These training weekends not only help you become physically prepared for the challenge, but our experienced instructors and leaders will talk you through your clothing and equipment, camp craft, health and wellbeing, trekking skills (walking on different terrain/at altitude/at night/using walking poles), teamwork on expedition and many more themes designed to make you get the most out of your challenge. The weekends are great ways for you to get out into the mountains of the UK, while also meeting other Charity Challengers and sharing your experiences. To read more about our training weekends, including dates and prices, check out our dedicated page.

Luggage allowance & 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 20kg.

However you should only need around 15kg-17kg. 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.

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.

Group Size

Each group is intended to be 20 people minimum in order to run and a maximum of approx. 30 people. We will be able to run this challenge for 10 to 19 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).

Clothing & equipment

Good quality, durable kit could mean the difference between a fantastic challenge experience and an uncomfortable one. For this challenge, waterproof, well-worn in boots will be indispensable, particularly coupled with some really good quality walking socks. The benefits of a comfortable day sack cannot be underestimated, so make sure that you train with this. Other essentials are a high quality gore-tex waterproof jacket and technical/wicking t-shirts rather than cotton shirts. Walking poles are also highly recommended, as the steps on this challenge are very tough on even the fittest knees, and descents can be tricky, however we would recommend training with these prior to your trek. 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.

Accommodation & Toilets

Accommodation

On the Wall 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.

Toilets

These range from very basic (‘communing with nature’ on the trek itself) to normal western standards in the accommodation. 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 lodges along the wall.

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 trekking 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 trekking 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.

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 route of the wall, therefore you should have sufficient currency with you before leaving the airport.

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

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 trek. 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 on the Wall 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-trek massage (about £25) on your return to Beijing at the end of the trek. The guides will also offer you the opportunity to purchase a CD souvenir of group photos (around £20), traditional name chops and other items. 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 per participant for the duration of the challenge (around 350 Yuan). For those on Charity Challenge organised extensions, we would suggest between £5 and £6 per person per day.

Phone & Wi-Fi

Most of the accommodation you are in will have limited Wi-Fi 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.

Emergencies

The event is not run as a race and there is always a large discrepancy in people’s walking abilities. 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 on the Wall, all guides and leaders are maintaining contact via radio, and the backup vehicle will not be far away. If somebody is unable to walk at all, then the guides will arrange evacuation off the Wall to the vehicle.

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ATOL protected

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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