Why consider Geocaching for your next road trip

Geocaching is a real-world, outdoor treasure-hunting game using GPS-enabled devices. Participants navigate according to a specified set of GPS coordinates and then attempt to find the geocache (container) hidden at that location.

The word ‘geocaching’ was written and said for the first time in the year 2000, by combining “geo” for geography and “caching” for the process of storing or hiding materials. Merriam­-Webster added “geocaching” to its dictionary as an official new word in 2012 and “geocache” was added to the official Scrabble dictionary in 2014.

The spirit of exploration and the joy of discovery unite Geocachers. They live in nearly every country on Earth and have families with children and grandparents. Tech ­geeks, photographers or hikers; in fact anybody can be a geocacher. It offers a broad appeal in large part because it’s bound only by a location and someone’s imagination.

People geocache because it’s a way to explore the world around them with friends and family in an enjoyable way. The game reveals a world beyond the ‘everyday’, where the possibility of a new discovery hides under park benches, in the forest and probably a short walk from where you are right now (literally) – even in your own suburb…

The only necessities are a GPS device or a GPS-enabled mobile phone so that you can navigate to the cache, and a basic geocaching.com membership.

A total of 2.5 million geocaches can be found all over the world in over 180 countries. It is common for more than 10 million registered geocachers to hide caches in locations that are important to them, reflecting a special interest or skill of the cache owner. These locations can be quite diverse. They may be at your local park, at the end of a long hike, underwater or on the side of a city street.

A geocacher hides a geocache, lists it on geocaching.com and challenges others to find it.

At minimum, geocaches contain a logbook for finders to sign. After signing, finders log their experience on geocaching.com, or with the geocaching app and earn a reward in the form of a digital smiley.

Some geocaches contain small trinkets for trade. If a geocacher takes something from the geocache, they replace it with something of equal or greater value.

Geocaches are put back where they were found for the next geocacher.

Geocaches are never buried.

There are also geocaches that are not based in containers – these are called earthcaches – very informative and teach you a great deal about geology.

Other alternatives to container-based caches are trackablestravel bugs (TBs) and geocoins (GC).  These have tracking numbers and rake up mileage as they travel from cache to cache.  They travel the world; exchange hands from cacher to cacher and land up doing more than 100 000km – adding another exciting aspect to the game.

Items that should not be placed in a geocache are food, sharp objects, ammunition, illicit or illegal items and alcohol. Everyone should respect their local laws. Geocaching offers advice to geocache hiders from law enforcement around the world and complimentary geocaching premium memberships to law enforcement agencies.

 

A geocacher chooses a waterproof container and a location to hide it. Once accurate coordinates have been established along with landowner permission, they submit it for publication on geocaching.com. A set of guidelines will be provided, including important rules that keep geocaching fun (and legal) for everyone involved. If a geocache clearly violates one of these rules, community members who review new geocaches may ask the hider to correct any discrepancies.

The most famous South African team is iPajero. It consists of a retired couple from East London and geocaching is what keeps the couple fit and on the go.  These two go-getters embarked on a colossal trip to the USA last year from 28 March to 15 August, and found over 1 000 caches in total.  They put together an article which makes for some very interesting reading: You can read all about it on http://bit.ly/1Tqd6z9

Should South Africans find this hobby interesting and the wish to connect with local geocachers, check out this local, voluptuary group that promotes the game locally – http://www.geocachingsa.com or visit the website www.geocaching.com

Endorsed by Silvia Ludwig – Secretary of Geocaching South Africa

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