Stories of buried treasure have fascinated us throughout history, and since the dawn of the internet a new game has emerged captivating players around the globe. Geocaching is a real-world treasure hunt, where the coordinates of hidden items are posted online for anyone to look up. As of February 2013, there are over two million caches concealed in more than 180 different counties. This ranges from the USA leading the hunt with 882,101 hidden gems to Ivory Coast with only one cache hidden away.
Caches typically contain a logbook of some kind for finders to record their achievement, but larger stashes may contain a number of small items left by treasure-seekers before your arrival. The rules are that if you take something from a cache you must replace it with an object of equal or higher value, but no food or the treasure may be squirrelled away by a hungry little animal.
A GPS device is essential for geocaching, and that could be a specific handheld unit or just a smartphone with a geocaching app. Literally anybody that wants to can find a nearby cache and join the 15 million geocachers across the globe.
Setting up your geocaching quest
1. Do your research
Choose your adventure wisely, whether it’s an uphill trek or a family activity. Check online at geocaching.com for difficulty ratings of each cache and to note down the co-ordinates.
2. Gear up
Get your kit together, and make sure your GPS device has plenty of battery life. Download the free geocaching app if you’re using a phone or get familiar with your GPS if not.
3. Take the first steps
Head in the direction of your treasure, but distance can be deceiving so it’s worth checking a map of the area. You won’t be able to travel as the crow flies so allow plenty of time.
4. Follow the GPS
It’s time to consult the GPS. Pay attention to where you’re going so you can get home safely; it’s worth marking your car/bus stop as a waypoint on your device.
5. The final hurdle
Distances on GPS devices can have error margins of up to 60 metres (200 feet), making the last few steps difficult. Check for unnatural rock piles or marked trees, to uncover your treasure.
6. The discovery
Once you’ve found the cache add your name to the logbook. Reseal it and put it back exactly how and where you found it. Log your experience online to let the cache owner know of your visit.