Geocaching…if you haven’t heard of it yet…prepared to get hooked! I would imagine most people would have heard of it by now, but I also could grossly overestimate just how much of a geek I am!
What is it?
A real-world, outdoor treasure hunt done by using GPS and an App. Well, treasure is taking it a bit far…but basically, there are hidden geocaches in every corner of the world, but you’d never notice them if you weren’t looking. Some are hidden in standard containers, some are really cheeky and are really hard to find (i.e fake rocks, leaves, insects).
Inside, there is usually a log where you write down your name and date to say you have found it. Some have little toys or ‘swappable’ which are mostly aimed at kids, and some contain ‘trackables’ which are meant to be taken and moved from cache to cache. I took a trackable (TB) from a cache I found next to Sydney Opera house and left it in a cache back in the UK. You track the serial number online so everyone can see its journey.
Why do it?
It’s surprisingly fun, and a really good way of getting kids out walking! But don’t be fooled, its an adults game too! The main reasons I do it are:
• It breaks up a walk, spending 5 minutes looking for a geocache can sometimes be a welcome break
• Some people plant ‘geocache trails’, 1 mile – 15 mile walks with geocaches all along the way. It’s actually a really good way of finding new walking routes
• It gets a bit addictive, once you start building up your number of finds and realise how many caches are out there, you soon find yourself saying ‘I’ll just see if there is one around here’.
Geocaching with kids
As mentioned above, it’s a really good way of getting kids into the outdoors with the promise of a real-life treasure hunt! Some trails are specifically created with kids in mind, with really fun containers to find. One trail close to me has all the characters of the Gruffalo as cache containers.
Now, I don’t have kids, but I have two very anti-outdoors nice and nephew (5 & 8), but I can always get them out geocaching, and they have really grasped the principle of leaving the treasure for someone else to find. I can easily get 3 miles out of them before they refuse to walk!
How does it work?
There several different apps out there, I use the official Geocache app. It is free, but you won’t have access to ‘premium caches’ but 80% of caches fall outside of this category, but the annual subscription isn’t that expensive and if you get into it, I think the fun pays for itself!
It uses the location on your phone, and geocaches show as green boxes. Once you click on it, it will tell you how many meters you are from the cache and has little hints if your struggling. There are many types of geocaches but its easier to learn as you go.
Who places them?
Everyone! I have laid a few trails myself! There are a few rules you have to follow and an administrator has to approve your hide, but you can hide your own geocaches too!
I personally find geocaching really fun, I don’t care that I’m in my 30s I want a treasure hunt too!
Although it must be said, I haven’t done any Geocaching since COVID because it does involve touching objects and surfaces so the fun can wait until you feel it’s safe to do so, and if you do decide to try it make sure you take precautions!!