Geocaching (pronounced geo-cashing) is a worldwide game of hiding and seeking treasure.
In its simplest form, a geocacher places a geocache somewhere in the world, pinpointing its location using GPS technology, then sharing the geocache's existence and location online. Anyone with a GPS unit can then try to locate the geocache.
Enter your postal code (or your GPS co-ordinates) and click "Search".
Choose any geocache (try choosing a "traditional cache" at first, denoted by this icon , consider mystery (), multi- () and other, more exotic types of cache (, , , ...) after you've mastered the basics) from the list, then click on its name.
Enter the coordinates of the geocache into your GPS unit.
Use your GPS unit to assist you in finding the hidden geocache.
Sign the logbook and return the geocache to its original location.
Share your geocaching stories and photos online.
That's it in a nutshell!
Though doesn't really tell too much about the more interesting whole story...
You may well be surprised to learn how much is hidden so close to you!
Costs nothing to participate (though some premium services, such as some member only caches and/or txt message notifications, may require a subscription).
Integration with Google Maps/Earth (see the "Geocaching.com Google Map" links on cache/site pages) provides a great way to visually browse the world and find caches of interest. See roads, routes, terrain and satellite photos of a cache's geographic location and/or move the map around to find/see details of other caches nearby.
Cache listings have characteristics (such as Difficulty and Terrain ratings) and attributes (such as "Stroller Friendly" or "Available 24/7"), allowing sophisticated use to easily be made (e.g. "just show me caches within 5 miles that take less than an hour" or "show me all the difficult puzzle caches in the region that are wheelchair accessible and have a picnic area and toilets nearby").
Very family friendly (pets often too), with some caches especially designed for younger players.
Is a world-wide sport. On all seven continents and in over 100 countries, there are (at the time of writing) 661,996 active geocaches around the world.
Will take you to places and locations you may never otherwise know of or see. Caches are very often placed at areas with notable natural and/or man made features.
Exercises your mind as well as your body. Multi-caches typically comprise more extensive hunts, requiring the finding of multiple locations/things and/or solving some puzzle in order to get. Puzzle caches may involve a very diverse range of problem-solving skills. The Pandora's Box of geocaching - such caches intellectually stimulate, from easier ones to the very complex. Also, the actual caches themselves may be puzzles in their own right. E.g. a locked box requiring you to find a key hidden elsewhere.
Is more than just finding caches! Trackable items, such as Geocoins and Travel Bugs have a life of their own - moving from cache to cache, they have their own objective(s) (such as "get to the South Pole" (this one has!) or "just keep travelling East") and develop their own history over time. Here's one of mine.
Can be competitive.
Once you've registered on the geocaching site, your statistics are automatically maintained whenever you log activities. Advanced players may also use premium member services and/or additional tools to see/analyse their geocaching stats (e.g. average finds per week; best day's finds; number of FTFs; etc.).
Kudos always goes to the First To Find (FTF) a newly placed geocache. Sometimes hiders may also place higher value items in as a special reward.
Individuals and teams also compete for accolades such as most finds in a day/week/month (in territory/country/etc.)
Is environmentally friendly! Geocachers are always encouraged to CITO ("Cache In, Trash Out") - essentially litter pick whilst caching. Here's a good example.
Has social aspects. You may see "Event Caches" listed locally to you, where fellow geocachers will meet and share experiences. There are, at the time of writing, 62,452 active geocachers worldwide.
Has yet to discover its limits.
The placing of caches continues to extend challenges to cachers. From physical challenges such as hard to get to places, some caches even requiring specialist skills/equipment (e.g. canoe or snowski) to get; to puzzles of ever increasing complexity and cunning.
Lots more of the world yet to go, explore and discover!
Posted 10/23/2008 09:18:00 AM, Thursday, 23 October 2008, by Faber Optimé. Post permanently located here. Click here to email the author about this post.