Geocaching 101: A worldwide treasure hunt

Posted by Taylah Strauss on 3 November 2021

In May 2000, a computer consultant, Dave Ulmar, hid a bucket in Oregon in the United States, and placed the GPS coordinates on the internet.

The bucket was found by two people and so, geocaching was born. This exciting challenge quickly turned into a worldwide phenomenon, with people all over the globe participating and establishing geocaching trails. South Africa is no different.

What is Geocaching?

Simply put, geocaching is a worldwide game of treasure hunt. A geocacher can place a geocache container – it can be anything – at any given location, and then use GPS technology to pinpoint the location, and log the geocache’s existence online. Since geocaching is a relatively inexpensive practice, it became popular very quickly.

From this, geocaching trails emerged in which you can spend the day touring your chosen destination and finding little hidden gems. There is a global site for this and more about the history of geocaching, you can find it here.

Geocaching in South Africa

The Geocachers of South Africa (GoSA) is an organisation of volunteers with the aim of promoting geocaching in South Africa, while still making use of the global site. According to their website, only eight months after the first geocache in America, South Africa began to partake in the trend. As of January 2019, there were more than 14 600 active geocaches across South Africa, and more than 7 900 geocacher teams.

4 Simple steps to finding a hidden treasure

GoSA has provided geocacher newbies with four simple steps to begin their journey.

1. In order to find geocaches, you need to register on the global site. Register here

2. You can search for geocaches in two ways. Either use their search page, or you can download the official geocaching app on your smartphone. There is an Android version, as well as iOS and Windows.

3. Begin with easy geocaches; start looking for larger containers that are hard to miss. Use the website to learn as much as you can about the geocache, as this will make it easier to find, and tell you what to expect when you arrive at the location. Once you’ve done this, you can go geocaching. Be sure to take a pencil, as you may need to sign a log. Use either the site or the app to navigate your way.

4. Log your find. Once you have found the geocache, log your find in the logbook and on the website. You may trade the geocache for something else, but it must be of equal or more value. Do not move the geocache, even if you think there is a better hiding spot.

If you are still feeling unsure about geocaching, learn more about it through logged experiences or FAQ.

Geocaching events

GoSA has five types of geocaching events, across all provinces.

1. An event cache consists of a social gathering of local geocaching and organisations. It provides geocachers with the opportunity to meet new people, and get guidelines and tips.

2. Cache In Trash Out (Cito) is an environmental initiative, where geocachers clean up locations.

3. A Mega-event is the same as a normal event, except it has more than 500 people from all over the world.

4. There are also yearly celebrations for the establishing of geocaching in South Africa

5. There are also special events such as International Geocaching Day.

For more on geocaching events in South Africa, click here.

Picture: Martin Lostak/Unsplash


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