Majesty of the Great Wall
To the east of the Jinshanling stretch of the Great Wall there lies the quiet and remote Simatai section. The ruinous state of this part of the Wall gives it an air of authenticity that has earned it the reputation of being the most beautiful section of the Great Wall. Unlike the sections to be seen at Badaling or Mutianyu that have undergone extensive restoration, the wall at Simatai has received very little attention. Here, the wall really looks as one would expect it to look some 500 years after it was built during the Ming Dynasty.
Because this section has retained much of its original 500 year old features it offers a quite hazardous passage to those who wish to walk along it. Needless to say, the inherent dangers offer a challenge that is quite inresistable to dedicated hikers in quest of adventure. An additional attraction is that as Simatai is some 130 kilometers to the north-east of Beijing it is well beyond the reach of the huge crowds of tourists that throng the more popular and accessible parts of the Wall.
"Long and graceful"
It towers over the nearby villages and farmland as it winds its way like the spiny back of a dragon over the sharply clipped peaks of the mountains.
Remember that much of Simatai is in a state of ruin. Consequently, you will be embarking on an adventurous hike. In parts, the way is steep and hazardous and is not for the faint hearted! It is not really suitable for more elderly people who should always be accompanied. As with all dangerous exploits it is advisable to have an experienced guide or someone who has been before to go with you. Also, take particular care not to loose your footing when stopping to take photographs! Never take unnecessary risks and keep to the recognised paths.
There are in total sixteen watchtowers set at intervals along this expanse and it will take about two hours or longer to reach the twelfth watchtower. Beyond this point the condition of the stairs and walkways deteriorates and the passage becomes both steep and narrow which means that it is often safer to use the adjacent footpath rather than try to walk on the Wall itself. A lack of firm footholds creates quite a struggle and in places it may prove necessary to go on all fours in order to make any progress