A Beginner’s Guide to Geocaching

Geocaching is a hi-tech global treasure hunting hobby that all the family can enjoy. So what are you waiting for? Get caching!

A beginner’s guide to geocaching

Most weekends you’ll find my kids and I out in the countryside rooting around under trees and piles of stones looking for little plastic tubs full of treasure.

No we’re not some sort of cut-price amateur pirates. We’re out geocaching.

What is geocaching?

For the uninitiated, geocaching is perhaps best described as a hi-tech treasure hunt where you use a smartphone or GPS device to find caches -- which you could perhaps think of as stashes -- hidden all over the country. You just log onto geocaching.com either at home or using a phone app, find out if there's anything hidden nearby, and then go out and see if you can find it.

The caches can be all sorts of shapes and sizes -- anything that can hold a scrap of paper to sign counts. But most of them tend to be tupperware boxes full of toys and trinkets to rummage through and make swaps.

Fun for all the family

There’s no better way of encouraging a seven year old to go on a long country walk than the prospect of being able to periodically dive off the footpath and hunt for treasure. And the look of triumph in my kids' eyes when they beat me to finding a cache is absolutely priceless, although I still maintain it’s because they are closer to the ground than I am.

It’s sneakily educational too. Not only are you teaching the kids about map reading and distances, but many of the caches come with interesting information on the history and geography of an area. There are even earth caches where you have to answer questions about the nearby geology before being allowed to log it as a find.

Some caches are wonderfully elaborate and well thought out. Our favourite series had a Harry Potter theme where we had to answer trivia questions on all the books in order to unravel the co-ordinates of the final cache. We’ve also done Snow White and the Seven Dwarves themed caches, and ones based on characters from The Lord of the Rings -- which definitely appealed to my inner geek.

Find out more

You’ll find everything you need to know about the hobby on the geocaching.com website, including all the different types of caches, where and how to find them, and where to download the smartphone apps.

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