We’ve been asked for a Geocaching for Beginners guide. As there are so many elements to the hobby (not sure if I can call it a sport) we decided to break it up into the absolute basics. Then may add a follow-up guide in the future.
Geocaching is a game of hide and seek that involves GPS technology. There are millions of geocaches worldwide and you might be surprised how close they can be to where you live! Each geocache is a container that contains a log book, that once found is signed. It is then replaced in the same location for the next person to find. It is a very basic concept that can get addictive.
Geocaching for Beginners Guide
- Sign up for a free account at Geocaching.com
- Download the app for your smart phone.
Before you commit to the full game and start paying money out you can try it our with a free account. The free account actually gives you access to all off the Geocaches that have been hidden. However this is only via the website. The official phone app limits your access to the listing. This means that some geocaches are only available via the paid Premium service (£19.99 per year).
Here is a screen shot of the map of Newcastle upon Tyne via a Free account on the Geocaching website.
Here is a screen shot from the app on a free account.
Notice that some of the dots are ghosted out. These are the premium ones. But with a little preparation, you can print off the details from the website and access the premium ones. Although it is a lot easier with the paid app.
When I first tried out Geocaching around 2009, I walked around with a Tom Tom Sat Nav and the coordinates programmed in to locate the hiding spot. The App is definitely easier.
To keep this simple we’ll look at the 3 main types of Geocache.
This is a Traditional Geocache, it is represented as a green dot on the app. These are the most straightforward ones to start with. They are located at the location of the dot on the map.
This is a Multi-Cache. These Geocaches are set up as a trail of multiple locations. The start point will be where the Orange dot is. There could be 2 locations or many follow-on locations.
Sometimes you have to visit the start location and collect numbers to complete the next location. Other times there could be a container hidden in the next location inside.
This is a Mystery Cache. A mystery cache is a based upon a puzzle that needs to be solved to find the hiding spot. They are usually within 1 mile of the blue dot on the map.
What does a Geocache Look Like?
This is an awkward one to answer as there are so many different ideas. Imagine trying to hide something in a busy city like Newcastle that is invisible to people who walk by it every day!
This is a collection available to buy from Geocache containers
35mm film canisters are a popular hide as are any size of Tupperware / clip lock box. There is a magnetic snail-shell, a fir cone container and even a hhollowed-outrock.
However ,the most common container we have found around Newcastle has been these Nano Caches.
These are tiny containers that are magnetic. Because they are magnetic it usually gives you a clue as to where to start looking.
Where are Geocaches hidden?
The one rule of Geocaching club is that no one should trespass. So this means that all geocaches should be hidden on public property. This can include road signs, lamp posts, trees, bushes, fences and rocks along a public access point.
We have found them at the base of trees, hanging in trees, wedges in a gap in a wall. There are some magnetically attached to metal foot bridges while others are just placed behind a post on the floor. Some of the larger tupperware style containers can be hidden under a couple or rocks or a pile of twigs. But generally ,they are not buried to the point of digging for treasure. Each Cache is graded on difficulty and over time you can start to work out where it will be hidden down to this grade.
Once you have found a Geocache
When you have found one you need to sign the log book inside it. Return it to the original hiding spot and log the cache. This can be done via the app or the main website. As this is a open to everyone game and often in public areas, it is important to be careful or your actions.
If a non geocacher see you hunting around under a bush or behind a post box, they may think your acting suspicious. Likewise, they may also wonder what you’ve just placed on the back of a sign. Sometimes a non gamer may find a cache and not realise what it is and discard it. This is when the game starts to fall to bits. So, if you’ve been to a location and can’t find the Geocache, you can send the Cache Owner a note to say you Did Not Find it. This raises their attention to the issue. If it is missing they’ll come out and possibly replace it.
Swapping items has also been a highlight for our kids. In some of the larger containers, there are items to swap. The policy here is if you remove an item you should add an item. Items can be tokens, badges, rubbers and little figures. If you do join into the swapping part, double-check what you’ve picked out as some items could be on a travelling mission.
Still Not Sure about Geocaching
For us, it adds interest into a country walk. Imagine trying to get your kids on a 2 hour walk! However, if that 2 hour walk also included 10 hidden treasures to find, then their interest is piqued. Even on your doorstep, a quick evening stroll can add some finds to your account.
We recently made this video after a Walk in the North East. We were joined by our friends the Walkers, who have only dabbled with Geocaching in the past, but it was great to see the kids getting into it. You’ll see that they are racing ahead to find the hiding spots. And competitively trying to find it before anyone else!