What is geocaching?

Geocaching.com, the largest geocaching website, describes geocaching in this way:

"Geocaching is a high-tech treasure hunting game played throughout the world by adventure seekers equipped with GPS devices. The basic idea is to locate hidden containers, called geocaches, outdoors and then share your experiences online. Geocaching is enjoyed by people from all age groups, with a strong sense of community and support for the environment."

An alternative description is: "Grown up people using multi-billion dollar satellites to find Tupperware boxes in the woods."

The basic of geocaching is that someone hides a treasure (geocache) somewhere in the nature. Preferably at a beautiful or special location. After the hide he puts the GPS coordinates on the internet so that other people can, by using these coordinates, discover the special location and find the geocache. If they can find the geocache, they write their name in the logbook and hide the geocache at the same spot. Finally they place a log on the internet sharing their experiences of finding the geocache.


What is such a geocache? A geocache can be anything, as long as one can fit in a logbook. Usually plastic boxes are used for this. The geocache should be able to withstand the weather to keep the logbook dry and clean.

In general there are 4 sizes of geocaches: micro, small, regular and large. If a geocache does not fit in these categories, there are 3 more options: virtual, not chosen and other.

MicroMicroGeocaches with a volume of less than 0.1 litres (usually contains only a logbook).
SmallSmallGeocaches with a volume of less than 1 litres.
RegularRegularGeocaches with the size of a shoe box.
LargeLargeGeocaches with a volume of more than 20 litres.
VirtualVirtualGeocaches with no physical container, a virtual cache.
Not chosenNot chosenGeocaches with no physical container (earth cache or webcam cache) or geocaches of which the owner does not want to publish the size.
OtherOtherGeocaches of which the owner thinks they do not fit in one of the above categories.

Furthermore there are different types of geocaches. Some of them are just a simple pickup, others need a puzzle to be solved and for others a 5 km walk is needed. Everything is possible. Beneath all different types of geocaches are shown.

Traditional cache Traditional cache This is the original geocache type. The geocache can be found at the given coordinates with a logbook to log your visit.
Multi-cache Multi-cache A multi-cache uses 2 or more locations. At the final location the geocache is located. A lot of different variations are possible, but most often you need to do some assignments to advance to the next positions and finally obtain the coordinates of the geocache.
Mystery cache Mystery cache This is the catch-all type of geocaches. It can be as easy as answering some questions on the internet to obtain the coordinates or as hard as solving complicated mathematical problems.
Earth cache Earth cache The location of an earth cache is a special geological spot. The aim of these geocaches is to educate the geocachers about the earth. At the location questions need to be answered to be able to log the geocache. There is no physical geocache at the location. More information at Earthcache.org.
Event cache Event cache Sometimes geocachers organise events at a certain time and place to meet and discuss geocaching.
Mega event cache Mega event cache A mega event cache is the same as the event cache, but the event is bigger. To make an event into a mega event, a minimum number of 500 geocachers need to be present. Usually these events are annual and attract geocachers from all over the world.
Giga event cache Giga event cache This is one of the rarest geocache types available. A Giga-Event Cache is an event that is attended by 5000+ people. These events are similar to Mega-Events and may include activities, could last several days and are usually held annually. Since Giga-Events are so rare, they attract geocachers from all over the world.
Cache in trash out event Cache in trash out event Cache in trash out is strongly tied to geocaching. During the search for a geocache, the litter along the route is collected and disposed of later on. With this kind of event this is done at a large scale.
Letterbox hybrid Letterbox hybrid A letterbox geocache uses clues instead of coordinates. A stamp can often be found at the final location to record the visit.
Wherigo cache Wherigo cache Wherigo is a way to make and play GPS-enabled adventures in the real world. Using the Wherigo, the geocacher can use physical as well as virtual elements, objects or persons, to find the geocache. More information at Wherigo.com.
Groundspeak Headquarters cache Groundspeak Headquarters cache The Headquarters Cache is located at the HQ of Groundspeak, the company behind Geocaching.com, in Seattle, WA. Geocachers interested in visiting HQ to log the cache should send an email to hqvisits@geocaching.com.
GPS Adventures Maze Exhibit GPS Adventures Maze Exhibit A GPS Adventures Exhibit Cache represents attendance at the GPS Adventures Maze Exhibit. GPS Adventures Mazes are designed to teach people of all ages about GPS technology and geocaching through interactive science experiences.
Lab cache Lab cache A Lab Geocache is an experimental and extremely rare geocache type. These geocaches are a way for us to innovate and test—often at the molecular-level—new ideas to make geocaching even better. By finding a Lab Geocache, you’re helping shape the future of geocaching.
Geocaches below can not be created anymore, but you might still encounter some.
Webcam cache Webcam cache With this geocache type you need to stand in front of a public webcam en capture a picture from this cam. Usually the help from a friend is needed to capture the image using a computer at home. Afterwards the picture is put on the internet to log your find.
Virtual cache Virtual cache A virtual cache location does not contain a physical geocache. At the location an assignment needs to be carried out or a question needs to be answered. If this is done correctly and the location is really visited, the geocache is found.
Project A.P.E. cache Project A.P.E. cache In 2001, fourteen geocaches were placed to support the movie Planet of the Apes. Each geocache represented a fictional story in which scientists revealed an Alternative Primate Evolution. Only a few geocaches exist today.
Locationless (reverse) cache Locationless (reverse) cache This type can be considered as the opposite of a traditional geocache. Instead of finding the treasure at given coordinates, you have to locate an object and log its coordinates.
10 Years! event cache 10 Years! event cache A 10 years! event cache is only for special events held between April 30 and May 3, 2010 to celebrate 10 years of geocaching.

There is usually more in a geocache than a logbook alone, tradable items. Think of little kids toys, pens, key chains, etc. These objects can be taken out under a single condition. Something with the same or a higher value has to go back in.
There can also be some special objects, trackable items. These items contain a number. By entering this number on the internet, one can post a message for this item and also where you found it. If you take one of these items out you have to put them back into another geocache within a reasonable amount of time. After you put it in another geocache you put this also online, to keep track of the journey of the item. Some of these items have special goals, for example travelling to a certain place. You can find this information on the personal webpage of the item, which can be found by using the number.

Useful websites

Below some interesting websites for geocaching.

Geocaching.comThe largest website for geocaching. Many geocaches can be found and logged at this website.
TrackablesTrackable items can be found on this page of the Geocaching.com website.

Take a look at the links section on this site for more websites.

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