I’d like to introduce you to Geocaching and explain what it is, how you do it and whether or not it’s something you can eat.
It’s an outdoor activity for adults with or without kids or dogs in which you use a GPS device or your smartphone to hide and seek treasures.
Which means that (sadly) it’s not something you can eat, but you can most certainly bring a picnic with you.
The treasures usually consist of a waterproof (very important) container that can be any size with a logbook that people sign to show they’ve found the cache. Small containers only have space for the logbook, but in large containers there can be items (so called swag) either to collect, trade or track.
Tracking means that you have an item that has a tracking code, which you can register on the Geocaching website and whenever someone finds your trackable item, they will login to the website and log that they’ve found it and then place it into a different cache. That way trackable items sometimes travel all around the world.
Where to start? Register an account on geocaching.com and download the intro application by Groundspeak. Once you open the app, you will see a few geocaches near you, choose one and set out to find it. The app will tell you how far away the cache is and how big it is. Try and choose one that is at least a ‘s’, they’re easier to find. Alternatively you can search for Geocaches directly on the website and enter the coordinates into a GPS device. Make sure not to pick ones that are too difficult or too small to begin with. Always check the recent logs before you set out to make sure they’ve been found lately and are still there. If you’re stuck and can’t find it, read the recent logs, maybe someone has left a helpful hint and look at the photos.
Premium Membership? It supports Groundspeak, isn’t a lot of money and adds a few perks if you plan on geocaching regularly. But, no need to get a premium membership if you just want to try out the hobby. It can be bought relatively cheap for three months, so you can try it and see whether or not it’s useful to you.
GPS, yes or no? If you live in the city, rarely go out for more than 1-2 hours, maybe are a group of 2-3 people and everyone has a phone, or own a power-bar to re-charge your phone, you’ll probably be fine with just a phone. The Geocaching Intro App by Groundspeak has a nice look and a lot of features. However, if you only have a basic membership you won’t see any of the more difficult caches. If you have an android phone, then download c:geo, which is a very nice application, sadly unavailable for the iPhone. If you’re willing to shell out some money download the paid app from Groundspeak for the iPhone and you’ll see all the caches in your area that aren’t premium just like with c:geo.
If you like rural caching, are in the woods a lot or only have one phone (believe me the battery won’t hold long) and really like this hobby it might be time to invest into a GPS device. The Garmin etrex series or the dakota series are both great to start with.
What are all those abbreviations? Here’s a glossary.
I’ve heard about trackables and geocoins, what are they? Essentially it’s either a tag (maybe with a toy attached to it) or a coin with a code, which allows you to track the item on the official website. You deposit the tag or coin into a cache, give it a mission (travel to Australia for example) and the next person who finds the cache takes it with them and moves it on to the next cache. You can follow the progress online. But, be aware, many of these get lost… but if they don’t it’s great fun to watch them move.
My original post about Geocaching on this blog. It has some pictures.
I’ve also got a Pinterest board on Geocaching.
If you’re in England, the National Trust are very supportive of Geocaching and even have Garmin GPS devices you can borrow to try geocaching.