If you follow me on Instagram, you might have noticed I picked up a new hobby this summer…. Geocaching! I’ve had a few questions from followers, so I wanted to write a blog post to explain more fully.
What is Geocaching?
- Geocaching is best explained as a worldwide treasure hunt.
- Geocaches are hidden all over the world, in locations which can be navigated to using a GPS-enabled device.
- There are more than 3 million active Geocaches in the world, hidden in 191 countries on all seven continents (including Antarctica).
- Geocaching began in 2000 in Oregon, USA.
- To get started, just download a free app to your smartphone and set off on your first search.
What do Geocaches look like?
- A Geocache is usually a small metal, wooden or plastic box that can withstand the elements.
- They vary in size from a tiny ‘nano’ container of about 1 inch across, to a ‘large’ container which could be a five-gallon bucket.
Where are Geocaches hidden and how do I find them?
- Geocaches are hidden everywhere from urban streets to quiet forests. They might be magnetic and attached to a fence, nestled in the branches of a tree or stashed under a bridge.
- Geocachers get really creative with the hiding places and the containers they use, which is part of the fun! There are some rules with regards to hiding a cache, such as they must not be buried and you must get permission if it’s on public land.
- The Geocaching app displays the caches in the nearby area, you simply select one you’d like to find, press navigate and follow the directions to the hiding spot. The app also gives hints and a description to help you locate the cache.
- When you find a cache, you mark it as ‘Found’ on the app and leave a thank you note for the owner. If you are unable to find it, mark as ‘Did Not Find (DNF)’ and leave a comment as the owner might need to go out and do some maintenance if the cache has gone missing or become damaged.
What’s inside a Geocache?
- Once you locate a Geocache, you need to open it up and see what’s inside.
- There will be a logbook which is a small notebook or rolled-up piece of paper where you sign your name and the date. Sometimes there will also be a pen or pencil.
- There will usually be some inexpensive treasures, such as coins, keyrings, small toys. If you take something, you must leave something of equal or greater value in return.
Why I love Geocaching!
I started Geocaching earlier this summer when lockdown restrictions were in effect and I was also recovering from an injury. We were allowed outside for exercise once a day, so I’d thought I’d make my walks more interesting by searching for Geocaches on route.
It’s enabled me to explore different areas and discover new places that I wouldn’t otherwise visit. It’s also opened my eyes to my surroundings- there are Geocaches hidden in places which I pass regularly and I never would have realised they were there. I started in my local park, but gradually expanded my search once I’d recovered from my injury. I like to combine Geocaching with a run, bike ride or hike and go further afield. It’s also great if you’ve got a dog or kids, to make getting outdoors a bit more interesting.
Geocaching is also quite addictive, it’s satisfying when you locate a tricky cache after a long search! I’m quite competitive and love challenging myself to go on a Geocaching mission and see how many finds I come back with! After starting in May, I’ve now found 181 caches so my next big milestone will be 200 finds! Now I’ve got a few friends into Geocaching- Lisa and Brett, it’s great to arrange a day out and plan a longer route to cover as a team.
Whenever I visit a new place, the first thing I do is open up my Geocaching app and see if there are any hidden nearby!
What else do I need to know about Geocaching?
- Caching often means going into bushes or brambles, so wear appropriate clothing and possibly gloves. I’ve ended up scratches and cuts on my legs after some particularly tricky finds!
- Often caches will be dirty due to being outside, so carrying hand-sanitizer or wipes is very much advised. Remember to wash your hands as soon as you get home.
- Carry a pen with you to sign the log. It’s also helpful to have tweezers as some logbooks need to be prised out of smaller containers.
- Always put the cache container back where you found it.
- Never leave food or anything illegal, dangerous or possibly offensive in a cache.
- Don’t give away obvious clues in the activity log, such as photos of the exact location.
- Try to be discreet as members of the public (known as Muggles) could potentially tamper with the cache if they are unaware of what it actually is.
- If you place a Geocache, please commit to maintaining it. There’s nothing worse than spending time searching for a cache which has gone missing and hasn’t been replaced by the owner.
- There are many different types of Geocache, such as mystery, puzzle, letterbox hybrid, virtual and multi-caches which involve solving different clues or going to different locations. Up until now, I’ve stuck to traditional caches as they are most straightforward to locate!
Have you ever tried Geocaching? Fancy giving it a go?
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