“Not all who wander are lost. At least some of them are geocaching.” – J.R.R. Tolkien, probably.
Geocaching (pronounced jee-oh-cash-ing, in case you were curious) is the most exciting outdoor activity you’ve probably never heard of. Imagine a combination between a scavenger hunt, an adventure hike, a gift exchange and the whole of the internet together, and you’ll come close to the concept. And the best part of it all? Participating in the Geocaching phenomenon is absolutely free!
All you need to take part is a cellphone with GPS functionality (which, unless you last upgraded your contract when car phones were still a thing, you definitely have) and a spirit of adventure. So strap on your trekking boots, pack a nutritious lunch into your Camp Master backpack, and get ready to explore everywhere from your backyard to the remotest corners of the world, hunting the treasures hidden in plain sight.
What is geocaching?
In short, geocaching is an international scavenger hunt powered by GPS software. Taking place from the central directory of Geocaching.com, as well as apps for most smartphones. Geocachers use their GPS receiver or mobile device and other navigational techniques to hide and seek containers, called “geocaches” or “caches”. These are placed at specific locations marked by coordinates all over the world. Anyone can find or create these caches.
These “cache” containers are often small, waterproof containers that contain a logbook or “treasure” that the finder can sign and take or leave an item, but as technology has advanced, virtual geocaches are becoming more and more prevalent, too! Geocaching is a way to explore the outdoors and discover new places. Some geocaches may also contain trackable items, such as travel bugs or geocoins, which are moved from cache to cache by different people, and their progress can be tracked online. There are more than two million active caches currently hidden around the world, with more than 14 600 recorded in South Africa as of January 2019! We’re willing to bet there’s one in a 5km radius of you right now… why not create a profile on the site and check?
What’s the history of geocaching?
Geocaching started in May of 2000 when Dave Ulmer hid the very first cache in Portland, Oregon, in what he called the “Great American GPS Stash Hunt.” This proto-cache was a hefty black bucket, stuffed to the brim with software, videos, books, food, money, and – for some reason – a slingshot, which Ulmer buried in the woods near his home. He posted this bucket’s GPS location to the Usenet newsgroup sci.geo.satellite-nav and challenged internet users to go find it.
The rules for the finder were simple: “Take some stuff, leave some stuff.” The idea was enchanting to many net users, who began hiding their own GPS-located treasures, swiftly forming a community of treasure hunters with a shared lust for adventure. By September 2000, the phenomenon had taken off enough that a whole site was constructed for its purpose, and the community coined the term “Geocaching.”
This phenomenon is unique in that it’s a global hobby, even a passion for some, that has no corporate entities or for-profit motivations at its core – just the love of discovery. Here at Camp Master, the love of discovery is at the heart of what we do, so geocaching is an exciting prospect for our team.
Why do people enjoy geocaching?
- It encourages outdoor activity and exploration, taking you to places you’ve never seen before and getting you to really engage with your surroundings.
- Geocaching promotes problem-solving and critical thinking skills. Some of these caches are stashed away sneakily, with clues in their name or riddles to help you find them. This is a challenge!
- It can become a full-time hobby that costs almost nothing to pursue and can be done wherever you go. There are even Geocaches in Antarctica.
- The process provides an opportunity to discover new places and hidden gems in your community. Think about the last time you really LOOKED at the street you live in or your local park.
- It allows you to learn about geolocations and the use of GPS technology. Being able to effectively navigate can be an invaluable life skill if you spend significant time outside.
- Geocaching is a great way to socialise with other individuals with similar interests in adventure, excitement, and finding cool stuff.
- It can foster a sense of community and stewardship for the environment. This stands to reason because when you’re spending time exploring nature, you’re going to want to make sure it stays pristine.
- It’s a fun way to spend time with others. There’s no bonding feeling quite like “winning” at a task with someone. Plus, you get to show off what a pro navigator you are to your date.
- Geocaching is an excuse to get outside! We often find ourselves glued to screens or stuck inside, and by actively challenging yourself to find a cache, you’re accomplishing something while getting some sun.
- It’s like an Easter Egg hunt without the empty calories or icky sweet sugar rush an hour afterwards.
What are the coolest geocaches in the world?
When we say there are geocaches everywhere, we mean everywhere. We’ve compiled a few of our favourites to give you a taste of the exciting spots your newest hobby may take you:
Deception Island, Antarctica – GC115ZX
Located on a remote island at the tip of the world, the only way to get to this geocache is via an icebreaker boat. To prove you did it, the geocaching community generally accepts a photo in the chilly Pendulum cove, where the cache itself is located. Dress warmly, it’s almost always below 0 in this part of the world.
Norfolk Broads, England – GCD182
It’s going to take a whole day of adventuring and riddle-solving to get to this cache because you can only reach it via kayak! The first location gives you a general idea of where the cache might be; but you have to paddle around to four virtual geocaches in the area for clues as to where to find the final logbook.
Brecon Beacons, Wales – GC2BA
This geocache lies at the end of a long, meandering hike that showcases the most scenic rolling hills the Welsh countryside has to offer. As the very first geocache placed in Wales, this adventure is a historical one, and the cache itself is notoriously difficult to find, stashed in a rocky outcrop.
Ojamo Mine, Finland – GC4Q81K
This one’s for the hardcore adventurers! It takes advanced off-roading skills to reach the entrance to the abandoned, flooded mine of Ojamo. The cache is located inside this mine, in a passageway called “The Pearls,” which one needs to decipher a code to figure out the location of. Oh yes – and you have to scuba dive to get to it!
Sailors’ Star, Cape of Good Hope, South Africa – GCVDHN
Involving a lengthy hike and a significant amount of searching through the rocky bluffs, finding this local geocache is an incredible way to really soak up the Western Cape’s magnificent scenery in a non-touristy way. Leave a locally inspired trinket, like a beaded brooch, in this one!
How do you start geocaching?
Now that we’ve gotten you all excited to join the world’s largest scavenger hunt, here are the steps you can take to get started:
Start your profile
Visit the Geocaching official website or download the app and register a username. From there, you’ll be able to access all the geocache data worldwide on easy-to-read maps and you can start exploring the caches in your neighbourhood. You might want to pop into a convenience store to get a few small trinkets to add to the caches you find, so that if you see something you like, you can do a fair swap.
Start with easy-to-find, nearby caches just to get the hang of the navigation process and understand the spirit of the activity. A fun way to do this would be to set aside a nice day and plan to find 10 caches in your city with friends on foot, sort of like an urban hike.
Plan an adventure!
Now that you’re mastering the art of geocaching, it’s time to find some of the gems that are hidden out in nature! Browse the map in natural areas and reserves near you and then plot an adventure out to find it! All geared up with Camp Master hiking accessories, of course.
If you’re lucky enough to find an area where there are many geocaches, you could plan a geocaching camping trip, in which you take multiple days to try and find every cache hidden in a specific wilderness area. We’re warning you though – this sort of fun is addictive, so you might be spending way more time in your Camp Master tent than you’re used to!
Ready, set, geocache!
You’re ready to embark on the greatest adventure of your life, in a game that’s growing and evolving daily. As you step outside to find caches and meet like-minded adventurers, we’d suggest taking Camp Master gear along for the ride. Affordable, yet durable and reliable, our outdoor equipment is made with the same spirit of adventure that’s driving you. And you’ll be prepared for any eventuality, even when you’re searching for the remotest treasures! Browse our full range on our website today.