Have you heard of geocaching, but not really sure what it is or how it works? This beginner’s guide to geocaching will give you all the information you need to get started. As well as being lots of fun, geocaching is great way to get you and your kids active and outdoors in the fresh air.
Read on to discover all the information you need for your first geocaching trip. Find out what geocaching is, where you can do it and what you need to take. Discover answers to “what is in a geocache”? and “who will like geocaching”?
We love geocaching and have done many geocache hunts, both at home and on holiday. After all, searching for hidden treasure in the countryside – what’s not to like?
Read our beginner’s guide to help you plan your first geocaching trip and you’ll soon be loving it as much as us.
Contents: click to jump to a section
What is geocaching?
Geocaching is described as “the world’s largest treasure hunt”. It is basically a free, world-wide scavenger hunt, which uses GPS coordinates to find the millions of treasure pots (geocaches) hidden all over the world.
Take a quick look at this one minute video by geocaching.com before reading the rest of our beginner’s guide to geocaching.
What is a geocache?
Geocaches come in all shapes and sizes. Fundamentally, a cache is some form of waterproof container that has been hidden outside, so that it is accessible to those that know where to look.
A cache could be as large as a Tupperware box, or as small as a film case. Some caches are even magnetic, so they can attach to sign posts.
The children love the caches that come in disguise as something else – a squirrel, a snail or even a skull.
What’s in a geocache?
A geocache will always have a log, so that you can sign that you’ve been. This may be a small notebook or just a roll of paper.
Occasionally, there it may contain simple treasures for children – a badge, key ring, rubber. Children can take one of the treasures, as long as you replace it with something of similar or higher value.
Who will like geocaching?
Anyone with a sense of adventure who likes being outside will love geocaching. It’s a great way to see the great outdoors, enjoy nature and get active without trying too hard.
In addition, geocaching is a great way of motivating children when you are on a walk. You don’t have to set out with the intention of geocaching. Once you have the app, you can make a spontaneous decision to see if there are any caches in the vicinity.
One of our best geocache hunts was on the cliffs above Cheddar Gorge.
What do I need to take for geocaching?
- GPS-enabled device, such as a smartphone
- A pen or pencil
- Treasure – this is optional. (Unwanted toys from party bags and crackers are ideal!)
How do I get started geocaching?
- Download the app and create your online geocache account (with fun username).
- The basic geocaching account is free and allows you to get a feel for the whole geocache experience. Once you decide geocaching is something that you and the family will enjoy you can update to the premium version which gives you a wider range of caches to discover.
- Now in the app find a geocache or series of geocaches in your area and look at the description (with type of terrain and level of difficulty).
- Click on the cache on your phone and it will give you directions to the treasure.
- We like to put the app in compass mode so that the compass directs you to it and will give a countdown of how many metres you have left. The boys take turns to hold the phone and direct everyone.
- When you are within 5 metres of the cache the app alerts you, start searching around for treasure. It will be hidden so you may need to look behind and under things. The cache could be high or low.
- If you are really struggling to find the cache you can take a look at the cache owner’s hint.
- Once the cache is located, sign the log roll inside the cache + then log it on your phone. Then add a little comment like ‘nicely hidden”, ” easy find”, “great cache’.
- The App will then register your cache find so you can refer to the location in the future.
Top Tip: Using the map feature in the Geocaching App we look for circular patterns of caches. We’ve found many enjoyable circular walks laid out by other Geocachers that allow you to see a new part of the countryside and guarantee you to finish back at the car.
Help! - I can't find it!
Some caches are a lot easier to find than others. You’ll find that the more geocaching you do, the better you will get at finding caches.
Sometimes, you will come across a cache that seems impossible to find.
Firstly check the hint, left by the person who left it. If that doesn’t help, look for clues in the comments section made by other geocachers or the date it was last found.
Occasionally, caches may have been moved, discovered by Muggles (see below) or it could just be very well hidden!
If you really can’t find it, move on to the next one.
Watch out for Muggles!
This is the term for non-geocachers. If you are near the cache and see one coming, stop what you are doing or move away.
We don’t want the muggles finding the treasure!
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