Top Ten China Treks: From Everest to the Gobi Desert and a week on the Great Wall (Part 2) – by Asmita Sarkar
Accessible trek: If you are short on time and looking for an amazing trek near one of China’s major airports, try one of these sites. Many of these do not require a guide or extensive mountaineering training. Learning Mandarin (basic and conversational) before undertaking these treks is always a good idea.
Tiger Leaping Gorge Trekking (near Kunming, home to China’s fourth largest airport): 2-3 days
This route, unparallel in beauty, is an UNESCO world heritage site. The gorge is located close to the historically famed city of Lijiang. This three-day trek starts from a small town called Qiaotou and ends near Tina’s Guest House where there is a bus route to Lijiang. There are two alternative paths. The higher one is less travelled, more challenging and offers a spectacular view. You don’t need guides, tents or mountaineering training, if you opt for this trek. There are guest houses along the way, where you can spend the night, rest and taste simple Naxi (the local ethnic minority) cuisine.
Trekking on the Great Wall (Near Beijing): 7 days
Photo: “Battlements in Great Wall of China” by Wikationer via Wikimedia Commons
Nothing else is as iconic and synonymous of China as the Great Wall. Trekking along this 1500 miles mythologized structure would indeed be epic. One of the more accessible routes starts from Shixiaguan and ends at the Baiyangyu Marble Wall. On the way you will cross the Huanghuacheng and Mutianyu sections of the great wall. Another ‘off the beaten track’ route starts from the Old Dragon Head in Hebei province, the eastern starting point of the Great Wall, finishes in Jiankou and the Mutianyu Great Wall. While trekking you can live history and be amazed at human endeavour and tenacity. No other man-made structure is as vast, and resonates so much with millennia of living history. But the wall is fragile now and when you are climbing down the wall, take care not to leave any litter or damage.
Mount Huangshan Trekking (Near Shanghai): 1-2 days
Photo: “HuangShan” by Arne Hückelheim (licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons)
Mount Huangshan (literally meaning Yellow Mountain), eulogised in Chinese art and literature, is traditionally called the “loveliest mountain in China.” It is also a great trekking destination and boasts a unique landscape straight from a classical Chinese water-color painting. Located around 300 miles southwest of Shanghai, an easy day travel or overnight train, Mount Huangshan is dotted with great hiking trails and scenic viewpoints. There are cable cars to reach particularly difficult points and several hotels along the hike. This mountain trail is one of the UNESCO World Heritage sites and is geologically incredibly complex. The steep karst landscape from the Mesozoic era will stimulate the imagination of both art lovers and science-fiction fans alike.
Lantau Peak Climbing the Mountain (Near Hong Kong): 1-2 days
Photo: By (WT-shared) Thorsten at wts wikivoyage (This file was imported from Wikivoyage WTS.)
Lantau Hiking Trail is a 70KM hiking trail, of medium difficulty. One of the attractions of this trail is the Big Tian Tan Buddha, a highest standing bronze statue of Buddha. The 70 Km trail is divided in 12 sections. The most rewarding sections are Section 2 ‘”Sunset Peak’’ and section 3 “Lantau Peak.’’ In Cantonese the peak is called Fung Wong Shan, literally meaning ‘phoenix mountain’. You can climb the peak in one day and the view is stunning – from here you get a spectacular view of Macau, which is 65 kilometers to the east. But be prepared for weather conditions, as the Lantau Peak is also called ‘the foggy mountain’.
Remote Tibetan Areas in Western Yunnan and Sichuan (near Kunming, home to China’s fourth largest airport): 7 days
Photo: Yading National Park
North West of Yunnan offers spectacular views of nature and jewelled-coloured mystic lakes. The route, which starts from Deqin and ends in Litang, is unique, and full of wonders. Discover sacred lakes, serene wilderness, minority cultures and unique fauna along the way!
The section from Deqin to Daocheng can be challenging and takes up to 2 days, but in Daocheng you are rewarded with beautiful temples and small villages that look like they are straight out of a fairytale. From here, you can traverse the Riwa en route to Yading, and from Yading you can return to Daocheng and then to Litang. This trek requires camping and a trained guide.
Enjoy all of these treks and more while you are studying or volunteering in China – there’s so much there waiting to be discovered.
Asmita currently works as program Associate with Minds Abroad, a U.S.-based organization that conducts study abroad programs in Asia, specifically China, Thailand and India. Before joining Minds Abroad, she completed her MFA in contemporary art practice from UK. Currently she balances her art practice with education and travel. Now, being a part of a study and travel abroad organization, she has many opportunities to travel in and around China and India while doing what she loves. Asmita plans to continue exploring possibilities within the field.