What is Geocaching?
Geocaching is an outdoor sport and game, using a GPS receiver or phone with this function to find a so-called cache (hiding place) somewhere in the world.
A cache is usually a small watertight box, provided with a logbook and the “treasure”. Nowadays this can also be such a small cache (nano cache) that there is only a logbook in it. After hiding the treasure, the placer makes the location known to other geocachers via the Internet. Others can often exchange and/or add objects when they find the treasure. The treasure always contains a logbook, which the finder can use to leave his name. It is also the intention that the finder will leave a log on the Geocaching website, even if he or she did not succeed in finding the treasure. Today, there are also applications for various smartphones. With these apps you can see a map with all the caches in the area and have the option to post a log on the website.
When the cache is found, after logging and exchanging it, the finder puts it back in exactly the same place and way, making sure that other people do not see what they are doing and where the cache is. The caches come in various sizes, from the size of a bicycle valve, photo roll with only a logbook in it to an ammunition box or bucket in which the goodies could be found.
When exchanging coordinates, it is important to know which GPS system is being used. A GPS is usually set to WGS84, which deviates from the Dutch Bessel coordinates or the RD coordinates.
Types of caches
Besides simple caches, where the user can walk directly to the right location, there are also many caches for which a puzzle has to be solved first or for which a kind of scavenger hunt has to be done first. For many cachers it is therefore not so much about the cache itself, but more about the journey and discovering beautiful locations in nature or in cities.
Caches can be divided into the following types:
Traditional caches: the simplest kind, where the final location is already mentioned on the Internet. The cacher enters the coordinates and can set off.
Multicaches: with these caches, only certain waypoints are given. For example, a question may need to be answered at a certain point, or a next coordinate may need to be searched for and/or calculated.
Mystery cache: with these caches, the location of the cache is not indicated, but only a (fictitious) point nearby. By solving a puzzle or assignment in advance, the real location can be found.
Earth Cache: an Earth cache must contain an educational geological assignment. For example, measuring/calculating the size of a specific feature of the area, collecting and recording data (such as the time of a tidal wave), or by having an e-mail sent to the cache owner with the answers to geological questions whose information can be retrieved on the spot (for example, on an information board). Since 01 January 2011, the guidelines have been adjusted, taking a picture is optional.
Virtual cache: in some places it is not possible or permitted to hide a physical cache. A virtual cache, therefore, is only a location. These caches are usually considered ‘found’ if the cacher can answer a question about the location and show a photo. No new virtual caches have been added to the database for quite some time now, but an earth cache can still be created.
Webcam cache: the intention is to be recognisable (with GPS visible) in the image of a particular webcam and to add the image of the webcam to the log as evidence. For some time now, no new Webcam caches have been added to the database.
Wherigo cache: Wherigo is a technical tool for building and playing adventures with GPS support. One of the possible applications is to enable interaction between geocachers and virtual objects and characters, by entering virtual zones.
Letterbox Hybrid: in this form, instructions are used instead of coordinates. However, in some cases, the letterbox does have coordinates. The maker then made it both a letterbox and geocache. A stamp should be present in the cache. Some cachers also carry their own logbook and stamp. When someone has found a Letterbox, they put their stamp in the logbook.
The treasure (or: stash/cache) is a box containing all kinds of objects (not with all types of caches). The finder can then exchange and/or add objects. The intention is to not just remove objects, but also to put something of greater value back. When there is no room for a treasure chest, smaller boxes are used. Such a microcache only has room for a logbook.
In addition to the unknown objects in a treasure, there are also objects that are registered. Objects that are registered are the Travelbugs and the geocoin. The geocoin is a special badge. Both types of objects have a unique identification number, which makes it possible to track the object’s journey via the Internet. Most travelbugs and geocoins have been given a certain purpose. Usually, this is to visit as many countries as possible or to reach a particular geocache or place. The intention is that a travelbug, after it has been found, is placed in another treasure as soon as possible. This keeps the Travelbug in the game and allows others to find it, too.