Has anyone walked the Great Wall of China?

Some people indeed have walked the entire Great Wall of China, including William Geil from US, Dong Yaohui and Liu Yutian from China, and William Lindsay from UK. However, most tourists only walked one or a few sections of the Great Wall and the number has reached 20 million each year. 

Has anyone ever walked the Great Wall of China?

Regarding ordinary tourists, do you want to know how many people visit the Great Wall of China? Well, you will find that the number is astonishingly large. According to the latest statistics, the number of tourists travelling to the Great Wall sums to nearly 20 million each year. Among the many sections, Badaling Great Wall, the most famous one all over the world, receives about 16 million tourists each year. Mutianyu Great Wall, comparatively more popular among foreign tourists, receives 1.4 million tourists annually. In the peak travel time during the two golden weeks, ie., the National Day Holiday and Chinese New Year Holiday, the tourist volume of Badaling Great Wall can even reach 70 thousand per day!

Has anyone ever walked the entire Great Wall of China?

In spite of extreme difficulties, the answer is YES! 

The whole Great Wall is quite long and the existing Great Wall of the Ming Dynasty (1368 - 1644) alone counts 8,851.8 km (5,500.3 mi). However, long distance is not the only difficulty one has to face. The journey is also very tough. To complete an entire walk on the Great Wall, one has to have strong physical strength because lots of climbing will be made due to the steep terrain and undulating altitude. In some western regions, the remains of the Great Wall have been severely damaged and hard to distinguish, requiring a good knowledge of Great Wall and trekking experience. What’s more, the weather in the Gobi Desert where the Great Wall extends to is harsh, thus a great test of one’s will power.

All these make the entire walk time-consuming. How many years to walk the Great Wall of China? To complete a hike from Shanhaiguan at the east to Jiayuguan at the west on the main line of the Great Wall, one needs at least three to five months. If all the branch lines are counted, one and half a year is required theoretically. In reality, it may take longer. Even so, a handful of hikers and adventurers have accomplished the heroic undertaking.

Who has walked the entire Great Wall of China?

 William Geil: a US explorer and geographer; completed hiking the entire Great Wall in 1908; time consumed: 5 months.
 Dong Yaohui: a leader of the Great Wall protection projects; completed the hiking on September 24, 1985; time consumed: 508 days.
 Liu Yutian: a Chinese explorer; completed the hiking on April 5, 1986; time consumed: 2 years.
 William Lindsay: a winner of the Order of the British Empire; completed the hiking in December 1987; time consumed: 8 months.
 Sally: a US female; completed the hiking in 1990; time consumed: half a year.
 Ren Erlin and Ren Zigeng: father and son from China; complete the hiking in 2003; time consumed: 89 days.
 Jamie Bradish & Rob England: US pair; completed the hiking in 2007; time consumed: 10 months.
 Stephen Robert Loken: a Norwegian; completed the hiking in 2011; time consumed: 601 days.
 Ooi Thean Hin: a Malaysian who completed the hiking in seven separate trips from 2009 to 2016.

William Edgar Geil – the first person finished hiking the entire the Great Wall of China

Is it possible to walk the Great Wall of China? William Edgar Geil, the first person conquered the entire Great Wall, has proved that this is undoubtedly feasible over one hundred years ago. In 1908, the US traveler William Edgar Geil and his team finished the entire walk from the Shanhaiguan to Jiayuguan in five months. On the way, he took a large number of cherished photos and kept more than 200 diaries. In 1909, he published the first book in the world about the Great Wall.

Read the Story of William Geil - the First One Hiked the Entire Great Wall of China

Dong Yaohui – the son of the Great Wall

Dong Yaohui, an electrical engineer from China, finished the entire walk on the Great Wall with his two partners in 1985. The whole journey started from Shanhaiguan and ended at Jiayuguan, taking 508 days. Along the way, they made detailed records on the status of Great Wall. Afterwards, Dong Yaohui voluntarily took part in the research and protection of Great Wall and became a chief leader of the Great Wall protection projects.

Read the story of Dong Yaohui Hiking Great Wall of China

Liu Yutian – the first person hiked the Great Wall alone

Climbing the whole Great Wall was always the dream of the Chinese adventurer Liu Yutian. His dream finally came true on April 5, 1986, when he arrived at Laolongtou, the eastern end of the Great Wall after two year’s painstaking trek. Later on, he also explored many remnants of the Great Wall which were less known and protected. Besides, he took adventures to the Loess Plateau, Silk Road, Lop Nor, and Mount Everest of China.

Read the story of Liu Yutian – the First Person Hiked the Great Wall Alone

William Lindsay – working on Great Wall protection after the trek

In the summer of 1986, a UK citizen named William Lindsay set out on a long walk on the Great Wall. In his 8-month journey, he discovered many remained sections which were rarely known. In the following 30 years, he devoted himself to the protection of the Great Wall.

Read the story of William Lindsay - Working on Great Wall Protection after the Entire Trek

Stephen Robert Loken - the first person walked to the east end of Hushan Great Wall

In 2011, the Norwegian Stephen Robert Loken completed hiking the entire span of the Great Wall in 601 days. Unlike all others, he set out from Jiayuguan and arrived in Hushan Great Wall in Dandong of Liaoning Province. Loken claimed that most hikers made the trip from Jiayuanguan to Shanhaiguan, however, they actually missed the last part.

Read the story of Stephen Robert Loken – the First Person Walked to the East End of Hushan Great Wall

More Stories of Great Wall of China:
 Sally - the Only Woman Walked the Entire Great Wall of China Alone: She took half a year to hike in 1990.
 Ren Erlin & Ren Zigeng – Chinese Father and Son Trekked the Great Wall: They took 89 days and finished the hiking in 2003.
 Jamie Bradish & Rob England - a US Pair Took 10 Months to Walk the Great Wall: They finished in 2007.

Further Reading:
How to Hike the Full Length of the Great Wall of China? 8,851.8 km!
How Long to Walk the Great Wall of China?
Has anyone walked the Great Wall of China? 
15 Great Wall Hiking Tips
- Last updated on Jun. 19, 2023 by Brenda Lian -
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