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What is Geocaching?

Imagine a pastime which can be enjoyed by the whole family that combines technology with outdoor adventure and:

Geocache

Geocaching (pronounced geo-kash-ing) is a worldwide outdoor treasure hunting game that encompasses all of the above and much more. There are over 3 million geocaches hidden worldwide and over 5 million people who play the game.

So, How Does it Work?

Geocaches are hidden all over the world by fellow geocachers. A geocacher will go to a location which usually has some special interest or beauty. This is often one of their favourite places to visit. At the location, they will hide a small waterproof container containing a few varied bits and pieces (usually of little value), a logbook and a pen or pencil. Using their smartphone or GPS receiver, the geocacher records the coordinates of their geocache and returns home to log its existence on a website.

Geocache

Another geocacher will see the geocache listing online or within a geocaching app, and go in search of it.

When they find it, the finder may take something from the geocache and leave something in return, and for posterity, enter a log in the logbook. If you take something, leave something of equal or greater value in return and leave the geocache as you found it (hidden of course).

The seeker should log that they have found the geocache and pass any comments they wish - this can be done using an app whilst out in the field, or on the website once at home. These logs are important to the geocache hider; it is part of their 'reward' for hiding the geocache, so some detail should be included.

You can read some tips on how to find your first geocache here.

Before placing your own geocache, we strongly advise that you build up your enthusiasm for and commitment to the game over a period of time. The greatest proportion of geocaching 'drop-outs' occur in the first 12 months after starting. The result can often lead to unwanted and unmaintained geocaches geo-littering the countryside. We would prefer for this not to happen, as it spoils the game for everyone to find a neglected geocache. When you are ready to hide your own geocache, make sure you read our advice here.

What do I Need to Play the Game?

Geocache app
  1. A sense of adventure to go out and find places you might never have otherwise known about and see things which would have passed you by. Imagine sitting on a small hill watching two young foxes 'playing' together in the field below you while a red kite wheels and performs aerobatics over your head.
  2. A smartphone or GPS receiver to navigate to geocaches. Both of these devices 'listen' to signals broadcast from satellites orbiting the Earth. From those signals, a GPS or global positioning system is able to calculate its location on the planet to typically within about 5 metres. Once a smartphone or GPS knows where it is, and where you want to go, it can point you to your destination. There are numerous geocaching apps available for most smartphones. One of these is the free GeocachingĀ® app. Alternatively, you can purchase a dedicated GPS receiver from around Ā£80 in the UK up to several hundred. A simple base model is sufficient for geocaching, but the more expensive models offer many varied facilities.
  3. Access to the Internet. Geocaches (often abbreviated to 'caches') are listed on several websites, the most prominent being Geocaching.com. There are however many other geocache listing websites from which you can download geocaches, including Opencache UK and Terracaching. On these websites you can find information about, and the coordinates for, the geocaches you will go hunting for. Sign up for free, log in and search for geocaches in your local area, you will be surprised how close your nearest one will be.
  4. A form of transport. Most geocaches are hidden in the countryside and away from public transport routes so a method of getting to the locality is helpful. It is also true that many geocachers do use public transport/cycles and hiking. You may find some geocaches in your local town or city which are right on your doorstep! Look at the attributes on the geocache page for parking waypoints, public transport, whether bicycles are allowed, if the geocache is recommended for kids, or if there is a hike involved.
  5. A few bits and pieces to use as swaps in the geocaches you visit. There is no compulsion to swap anything, but you will often find an item of interest in a geocache; it is only fair play that if you take something, you should leave something in exchange of equal or greater value.

Interested? Not Surprising Really!

Geocache

The Geocaching Association of Great Britain was set up to forward geocaching in the UK and to help new geocachers learn about the game. Do you want to find out more? The next step is to download our helpful What is Geocaching leaflet and to visit our Finding Your First Geocache page for more help. You may also wish to check out the other help resources available on our website - you can view them here. There are many sources of information about geocaching on the internet, but when it comes to actually going out and finding the first geocache, nothing can replace the actual experience.

If you are genuinely interested in geocaching and would like some help, the GAGB will try to find a geocacher in your area who is willing to meet you and escort you on your first geocaching trip.

If you want some help, or have any questions, send an email to gagbcontact@gagb.org.uk.

History of Geocaching

You can find out about the history of geocaching here.

“What is Geocaching?” video is copyright Groundspeak, Inc. DBA Geocaching. Used with permission. All rights reserved.