10 of the best - Man-made icons - 3. The Great Wall of China
The ‘WOW’ factor: In a land of phenomenal contrasts, deep secrets and amazing sights, after discovering Beijing, a trip to The Great Wall provides a cultural shock. Take its full construction into account and it is 13,171 miles in length. Of course, it is not the original
wall, although some major elements, built between 220- 206BC do survive. Fortunately, some of the best restored stretches of The Great Wall are maintained in Beijing Province, which makes reaching them fairly easy.
Did you know?: No astronaut has ever reported that The Great Wall is visible from space, although, using binoculars, its course can be discerned, slightly. The various watchtowers and barracks along the wall were built at specific high-points to enable flares and flag signs to be used for communication purposes. Some sections of The Great Wall are so damaged by wind erosion that they are now less than a quarter of their original size. The costs involved in repairing the structure would be so immense that even the new-found prosperity of China could not afford to fund the work necessary.
Experience: China still feels like a very distant and mysterious place, despite its burgeoning influence on the West and its rapidly expanding economy. Any trip to
the vast country is an adventure and Tucan Travel provides an exemplary means of reaching Beijing, visiting The Great Wall and China’s other superb tourist attractions, such as the Terracotta Warriors and the Longman Caves, plus the opportunity to become fully
immersed in Chinese culture. A cycle ride in Xi’an, a rickshaw through Beijing’s Hutons and a cruise along the Yu Long River are among the highlights of the 13 days vacation, which costs £1,149 per head. (www.tucantravel.com)
Responsible Travel offers tailored tours that start from £2,595 for 15 days, also excluding international flight fares. (www.responsible travel.com)
Should you wish to walk The Great Wall, then specialists like Exodus can provide all-in opportunities, including flights from Heathrow, for around £1,429 per head.