this is the banner

What is Geocaching?

Geocaching is sometimes referred to as 'Treasure hunt using a GPS' or 'hiking with a purpose'.
In short geocaching is as follows: A geocacher hides a 'treasure' (=cache) on an interesting location and then publishes the instructions how to find the cache on the internet. He then publishes an internet page describing how and where this cache can be found. Other geocachers can view this cache description and then can start to hunt for and find the cache. As the location of the cache is usually expressed using coordinates (degrees latitude and longitude), a GPS device is required. This can be a smartphone however it is more practical to use a dedicated handheld device for instance a Garmin. The advantages of a GPS device over a smartphone is are that a GPS is water proof, the battery life is much better, it is less fragile when dropped and it can show a detailed map without the need for a mobile data connection.

What is a cache?

A cache is a box, in any size or shape. It can anything from the size of your fingertip or the size of a suitcase. For geocachers the most important content of the cache is the logbook in which you write down your name and the date as proof that you have found the cache.
Larger size caches also contain swag, small items that can be exchanged, typically small toys so geocaching is also interesting to children. Unfortunately this does not happen that often anymore so cache boxes usually contain only a log book.
After the find, the geocacher put the cache back in exactly the same spot as where it was found, and ensures it is proporly camouflaged so the next geocachers can also have as much fun in finding it!

Apart from logging the found in the logbook, the found is also to be registered on the geocaching website. Here you can tell a bit more about your experience in finding the cache and you can also upload photos.

Is it fun to go Geocaching?

Most people that hide a cache, do their best to place the cache at an interesting location. For example, in nature, on a historical location or along a scenic trail. If you enjoy cycling or hiking, then geocaching is your thing! It takes you to surprising locations where you would normally not come and it is a great way of discovering new and interesting places. You are no longer just hiking or cycling, as you have a purpose: to find a cache. So you will also observe you surroundings differently as you are now looking for clues and of course the cache. There is also great satisfaction in finding the cache and put your name on the log sheet!

How do you meet other geocachers?

When going out geocaching, chances are that you will meet other people. In order to know if they are geocachers look for the telltale signs: are they holding a GPS or printed cache description, are they looking around them like you would do when looking for a cache? If that is the case, then it is easy to have a chat and share experiences. Another great way of meeting geocachers is to visit events. With an event, geocachers will meet and enjoy time together talking about their favourite hobby. It can involve activities such as dinner and drinks, barbecues or workshops. Whenever I go abroad I love to meet other geocachers, so I try to attend local events, or organise my own event to meet new people. Facebook is also a great way of getting into contact with local geocachers, as most countries or states have their own Facebook group. It is then easy to meet local geocachers who will be happy to invite you for a day of geocaching.

Where can I find more information?

The main website for geocaching is geocaching.com. Here you will find all the information on hiding and finding geocaches. Of course you can also read all the logs for each cache, some of the logs can contain valuable tips on finding the cache. Currently there are over 3 million caches published and this numbers grows each day. The first step is signing up for an account. A basic account is free and there is also a premium account with some more advanced features.


Are there different cache types?

There are different cache types, each providing new challenges and highlighting different aspects to geocaching. In the map on the right you can see a sample of caches, each with a different symbol, hidden in Tsim Tsa Tsui in Hong Kong. The most often used cache types are:

Traditional Traditional Cache:
The cache owner publishes the exact coordinates of the cache on the internet. The geocacher can use these coordinates to go straight to the cache. It sounds simple, but sometimes this cache is placed in difficult terrain or ingeniousely camouflaged locations
Multi-cache Multi-Cache
A multi-cache involves two or more points that need to be visited. The webpage of the geocache only has information of the first waypoint. At each waypoint, information needs to be collected to determine the next point, or use the information for calculating the final coordinates. The length of the multi-cache can be anything between a few hundred meter to 25 kilometers or more. Usually, multi-caches are below 10 kilometers.
Mystery Mystery
A mystery cache is a puzzle cache. In order to get the coordinates of the cache, a puzzle needs to be solved first, and can usually be done at home. The variety and difficulty of puzzles is huge. It can range from a Sudoku to a mathematical puzzle; a world riddle or a dive in history or nature. I found Google, Wikipedia and Excel to be of essence in solving many puzzles.
Earth cache Earth Cache
An EarthCache is a special geological location people can visit to learn about a unique feature of the Earth. EarthCache pages include a set of educational notes along with coordinates. Typically, to log an EarthCache, you will have to provide answers to questions by observing the geological location. There is no cache box to be found on the location itself, but logging is done by submitting the answers to the questions to the cache owner, who will then authorise logging on the website.
Event cache Event Cache
An Event Cache is a gathering of local geocachers. The Event Cache page specifies a time for the event and provides coordinates to its location. After the event has ended, it is archived. In addition to Events, there are also Mega Events and Giga Events. These are events visited by hundreds to thousands of people and can last for multiple days.

To search for a cache, it is easiest to search on the map to see what caches are available in your area. You can see different types of symbols, and each of those types require different skills in finding the cache.
Clicking on each symbol gives more information on the cache; difficulty, terrain, size and favourite points.

  • Difficulty and terrain are each ranked on a scale of 1 to 5 stars. The more stars, the more demanding the cache is.
  • Size is ranked on a scale of 1 to 5 and indicate the size of the cache to be found.
  • Favourite points are awarded by cacher that found the cache and want to recommend it to the geocache community. So the higher the number of favourites, the more interesting and rewarding the cache usually is.
Clicking on the name of the cache takes you to the webpage that goes with the cache.

If you want to read more on the geocache types, go to this webpage

What are Travelbugs and Geocoins

Travelbug

There are special goodies named travelbug of geocoin. These are trackable goodies that are supposed to travel from cache to cache or follow a specific assignment prepared by the owner of the bug or coin. If you find one in a cache, you can remove it without replacing something else. The bug or coin is supposed to be placed in the next cache within 14 days. You also log your find of the bug or coin on the internet using a special number published on the bug or coin. Some examples of assignements are: 'See as many countries as possible' , 'only travel eastwards' or 'make a special photo with the travelbug'.

Do geocacher respect nature?

Geocachers love being outdoors and respect nature and the guidelines that can ofter be found in the cache listing. So, geocachers do not walk in a straight line in the direction indicated on the GPS device, but use clear -common sense- guidelines to which all geocachers should abide.

  • Placement of a new cache is only done after approval of the landowner or the authorities.
  • Before the cache is published on the internet, a independent reviewer checks the cache description to see if the guidelines for publishing a cache -a defined by groundspeak/geocaching.com have been adhered to.
  • Cachers respect nature and only walk on trail and paths unless specifically mentioned in the cache description.