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We had an absolutely perfect day with our tour guide - Rogin Luo - who took us for a hike along The Great Wall! Didn't know what to expect and were thrilled to have him as our guide. Very imformative, knowledgable and fun! We go to experience a part of The Great Wall that was unrestored and see all its natural beauty. Got a long history lesson along the way!

After the hike, we all went to lunch at a small place at the bottom of the hill. Located in a house, we ate lunch in the proprietors bedroom! What a hoot! Rogin is the Best of the Best! This tour company delivered for us and we are extremely grateful.

Westborough, Massachusetts
Reviews onTour-Beijing.Com
It is still a long way to go for hiking in China
China has some of the world's most spectacular natural scenery, with amazing wild hiking trails that attract a large number of sports enthusiasts.

However, the idea of hiking as leisure is still quite a foreign concept in China. Locals have certainly embraced it over the past couple of years, but it remains novel for many Chinese, and often the popular pastime is misunderstood.

"When the China Beijing Today Walk Center was first set up 10 years ago, we had people constantly questioning the existence of such an organization," said Jin Qiao, founder of the company, which promotes hiking culture in China. According to Jin, they would ask questions like, "If you just do some walking, why do you need an organization? You just walk."

Jin has been instrumental in organizing events that relate to hiking in China. He hopes that they can help hiking develop in the country to an international standard, through promoting the improvement of hiking facilities and attracting wider participation.

"So far, the two most active groups engaging in regular hiking in China are retired and middle-aged people, as well as young white-collar workers. This is different to the West, where it has become a lifestyle choice that all different age groups participate in," said Jin.

Hiking in China has grown rapidly in the past few years due to the growth of the economy and the increase of people's awareness in health.

The number of high-profile hiking events that take place has been growing over the years, both in Beijing and across China. Hiking clubs are becoming bigger as more locals see it as a great way to escape city life, especially in cities that are quite polluted.

However, there is still a long way to go. The lack of rules and regulations, limited safety awareness and less grasp on how to enjoy a hike still impede it from being a widely popular recreation.

This point was articulated by Wu Tao, director of the Internationaler Volkssportverband's member state China Volkssport Association's Activity Department.

Internationaler Volkssportverband was set up in 1968 in Germany and is dedicated to promoting recreational sports. They have become very active in recent years in China.

Wu has been working in outdoor sports for 28 years. From his perspective, the most critical problem is that many Chinese hikers have little awareness when it comes to environmental protection, with a lot of them depositing trash along the way.

Second, Wu is concerned that their knowledge of safety is limited, as is their equipment for outdoor activities. "Despite this, a lot of them are very bold and reckless. Without knowing much about the hiking trails they still prefer to take those trails less traveled," Wu said. "Every year there are about 40 cases in Beijing in which hikers get lost," he explained.

Meanwhile, a lot of hikers, especially beginners, seem to be aimless when they start hiking.

"Actually hiking can be very meaningful and hikers can follow some themed routes, such as ancient and historical routes," said Wu, whose organization just arranged a hiking trail following the footsteps of Genghis Khan, founder of the ancient Mongol Empire, in China and Russia. This is certainly the case with hiking around Beijing, since the city benefits from having some of the most interesting historical sites in the country in its backyard.

Despite all of this, Wu is very optimistic about the growth of the sport and sees this year as the best time in China for hiking to take off.

"The government is putting more and more effort into developing culture. As a result, the government would like to support these kinds of activities."

Although hiking does take a little bit of time to plan, it is still a very easy sport for people to pick up.

"It is so easy to start hiking if you really want to," said Liu Zhongbo, editor of travel and outdoor sports books at the publishing company China Light Industry Press.

"Get off the bus earlier and walk to your office. That is hiking too," he noted.

Global Times | 2012-7-3

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