Geocaching? Never heard of it…
While my world travel ideas were still vague I was introduced to Geocaching. I had been told of it once or twice and seen it on a movie or TV show once but I had never learned what it was. It turns out that geocaching is a bit like a cross between orienteering and a treasure hunt. Just like at birthday parties when you were a kid, except these prizes are always there (and I wouldn’t eat the confectionery if you find any). It is a recreational activity where you use a GPS device or more commonly, an app on your Apple or Android phone to find a ‘Cache’ that someone has hidden in public. I think Geocaching has a place in my Travel Blog because I find it a great way to explore a new place.
What is a cache?
A cache is usually a waterproof container. The size of the container varies. A non-cache can be approximately 10 mm in diameter. These can be a nightmare to find often magnetised and attached to metal objects. The containers go up in size from there. Mostly the containers seem to be a sandwich box size. Well, they do in New Zealand anyway.
What is in a cache?
One thing a cache always has is a log. In the case of a nano, it is a small strip of paper wound tight. For larger caches, it’s often some sort of notebook. The log is to document your find physically. You write your game or user name and the date on the log. The larger caches can carry more. Usually, a pen or pencil to fill in the log with. Often there are trinkets or objects left behind. These objects are classed in two categories. Tokens and Trackables.
can be anything and the idea is you leave a token behind that is unique to you. Other players can then either leave these behind or take them away and keep them if they want. It is good Geocaching etiquette to leave a token behind should you remove one though. Something of equal value.
are similar objects with a difference. They have unique identifiers either on them or attached to them. These identifiers are purchased from the Geocaching website and registered with them once they are ready to be used. The idea is that when you find one of these trackables (sometimes called travel bugs) you can take it. You have to log on the Geocaching app or website that you picked it up and within a short period of time, you have to place it in another cache somewhere else. Then anyone who is interested can see where the trackable has been all over the world.
The sort of objects I have found so far are action figures, badges, coins, Lego, a watch and the list goes on. It can be anything. Sometimes really fascinating, sometimes not. Either way, the fun is always in the finding
I mentioned logging trackables in the Geocaching app. The app is your compass. It uses coordinates to help you find the caches. It gives you information like how far away you are and in which direction you need to travel. In the details section, you will find the approximate size of the cache and some detail on the cache or area. Often caches are hidden in places of interest either historically, personally or just places of beauty. The descriptions and histories of the area can be fascinating, and you are sure to find places that you wouldn’t have found without Geocaching. The app is also your digital log. This is where you log your find (or did not find). The logs help the next person see when the last find of a cache was and if they are struggling they can get an idea if it is still there.
Types of cache…
There are over a dozen types of cache but the main three are as follows:
- These are pretty much what I have described above. A container is hidden at a certain location. Find it, log it, move on.
Mystery or Puzzle Cache
- Pretty much as it sounds. You may have to solve a puzzle or complete a task to find the cache coordinates. The options here are endless.
- These caches involve more than 1 place. The first coordinates will have some sort of clue as to where to find the next coordinates and so on and son until you find the destination of the physical cache container. Sometimes you need to have a separate app to pinpoint longitude and latitude coordinates to find these.
A rollercoaster of emotion…
Geocaching is a mix of all feelings rolled into one activity. Anger and frustration when you can’t find a cache that is supposed to be easy. Jealousy when someone else has found it and you haven’t. Joy and exultation when you find a cache especially when others haven’t. The list goes on. This is an activity that is a great way to pass some time alone, with friends or with kids. It is also a great way to explore a new place and see stuff that not everyone else sees. Whether at home or while travelling you will be amazed at where you go. Now maybe you see why I think Geocaching is worth adding to a travel blog. It is easier to explore if you have a mission in mind.
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