What is Geocaching – A guide to your new Hobby
In simple terms it is treasure hunting for the 21st century. You download an app to your smartphone, either the official Geocaching one or similar, or use your GPS machine. Sign up to Geocache.com, there is a free option or a paid option – try it for free first I’d suggest. Select a “cache” you want to look for, there are millions all over the world so bound to be something near you, and then follow the arrow on your device to the location.
Screen Shots of the iPhone App
Simple As That?
Sounds simple right! Well in principle it is, the tricky parts come when you realise some of the hidden caches are tiny! They range from large ammo boxes to tiny smaller than a thimble sized canisters and all you have is a clue (if you are lucky) and a grid reference. The cache (the item you are looking for) can be hidden in easy places or really tough ones, we once found one that was attached to the inside of a bench strut once.
Once you have located the cache you can usually sign a small piece of paper inside and log it on the app/account you are signed into. Larger caches may often include a little swap (a small toy or trinket that you can swap with something you may be carrying) – it’s advised if you plan on geocaching with kids to take a few small toys. We use little Lego type men, as they will almost always want to swap something, as it is part of the excitement, you may even be really lucky and find a “Trackable” (more on those later).
Geocaching is Fun
You can spend hours searching for Geocaches, if you find an area rich with them (we had a walk not so long back where we walked around one Milton Keynes estate that is literally surrounded by caches), part of the thrill comes from the hunt, but part also comes from the secrecy! Yes that’s right you are not supposed to make it obvious what you are doing. In fact part of the game is to make sure “muggles” (non geocaching people) don’t see you.
The things you can find are great as well, from the joy at finding a tiny cache, hidden in thick undergrowth (hey when you search an area for 30 minutes actually finding the hidden treasure becomes really rewarding), to the items that may be in the cache.
Little toys are fun for the kids but the real thrill for us oldies is finding a trackable.
A trackable is an item that has been specially brought that has a code which can be tracked, you can see where this little object has come from, and where it has been, and you can take this item with the unwritten agreement that you will place it in another cache some distance away, ready for the next finder.
Geocaching Jargon Buster
If you are worried you won’t understand the jargon, like the trackable mentioned, well I can help there, have a read of our 100 Geocaching Terms post.
You can find out about the sort of fun we have by reading my all Geocaching posts; or have a look at these selected posts (it really is fun for all the family):
What Equipment do you Need?
In reality all you need is your smart phone. This will allow you to find the caches and join the fun, but you might find you want more. We don’t leave the house without a small tube of trinkets to swap out; cheap Lego men from the pound shop; a pen and pencil to write on the, sometimes tiny, log sheets that you’ll find in the caches (you can even buy special stamps if you want).
But that is what makes it fun you don’t really need to be laden with stuff to just have fun. We also carry a few replacement logs or scraps of paper in case we find full or damp logs. And we never go Geocaching without our trusty portable phone chargers!
You can read about some other things we take in my post 10 Things to take Geocaching.
Geocaches are found everywhere, and can be found in any weather (we’ve yet to hunt in snow but have covered every other type of weather). But most of all it is great fun for all the family.
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