Geocaching is a real-world, outdoor treasure hunting game using GPS-enabled devices. Players navigate to GPS coordinates and then attempt to find the geocache (container) hidden at that location.
It is a hobby that has developed since mid-2000 when civilian GPS devices became more accurate. And geocaching sprang up as a high-tech treasure hunt among a few enthusiasts in search of not-very-valuable trinkets and more precious bragging rights. Its initial introduction into South Africa was when Garmin first hit our stores. Now, with most smartphones sporting a built-in location unit, the activity has become even more popular.
To start geocaching, simply register for a free basic membership at geocaching.com. Visit the Hide & Seek a Cache page to search for nearby geocaches, by using the postal code. Once you’ve decided which geocache to go for, enter the coordinates into your GPS device and off you go! The GPS does not mark the exact spot where the container. But often those who hid the treasure will post an online clue to help you. Once you’ve found the geocache you sign the logbook, put it back and mark it as found on the website. To give you an example of how popular this pastime is, in Randburg alone, there are over 40 geocaches waiting to be discovered.
But snooping around looking for hidden caches may seem like suspicious activity to the unknowing public. In the past, this has led to police and bomb squads being called, and people getting lost in the wilderness. The hosts of geocaching websites often send out warnings to inform users to always stay alert and aware of their surroundings.
The placement of geocaches has occasional critics among the public at large who consider it littering. Some geocachers act to curb this idea by picking up litter while they search for their treasures, a practice referred to in the community as: “cache in trash out”. Events and caches are often organised revolving around this practice, with many areas seeing significant clean-up that would otherwise not have taken place. Geocachers are also encouraged to clean up after themselves by retrieving old containers once a cache has been removed from play.
By Shawn Greyling