What is Geocaching?

Geocaching is a worldwide treasure hunt that requires either a hand-held GPS, a smart phone (with GPS capabilities) or Google Maps aerial photos to help you find hidden ‘treasures’.

There are more than 1.9 million ‘caches’ hidden around the world and more than 5 million people have so far taken part in the hunt during the first 10 years after its beginnings in the year 2000.

Geocaches are hidden all around us – on every continent (yes, including Antarctica) and are found in more than 100 countries.
In fact, you will have passed closely by 100’s of caches without even knowing they were there!

Why do people geocache?

There are a number of reasons more than 5 million people have taken part in geocaching. It could be any or all of the following:

  • The Challenge – the observational and mental challenge of finding cleverly hidden caches.
  • The Destinations – the unique and sometimes spectacular destinations the caches are located at, which you would have never visited otherwise.
  • The History – the historical locations caches can be hidden at, and the information about that spot presented in the cache’s listing.
  • The Family/Social Time – a time that can be spent socialising together on the journey to each cache.
  • Adding Purpose/Interest – going for a walk or to a park, and having the added goal of finding a geocache can make an otherwise uneventful walk/visit that little more fun.

What’s a Cache?

A typical geocache container is waterproof and ranges in size, from smaller than your finger up to the size of a suitcase, and bigger.

Contents

All caches should contain a paper ‘log book’ that can be signed by those who find it with their name, the date and a not about there experience finding it. Caches often have a writing implement too, for signing the log.
While you can’t take the actual cache container, you can take something that is inside. Caches that are big enough usually have trinkets in them that you can take. These can be anything form small toys, like marbles and matchbox cars, to DVDs and Rubik’s cubes. You can take something you like, as long as you put something of equal value back in.
Once the log has been signed, and any swaps have been made, geocaches should always be hidden again exactly how they were when you found them so the next geocachers can enjoy the challenge of finding them like you did.

Cache Attributes

Each cache has a different set of attributes, which you can see on its listing before you search. These are:

Terrain – How hard it is to get to. 1 star means a wheel chair should be able to get to it. 5 starts means you might need abseiling equipment to reach it.

Difficulty – How hare is it to find once you get near it. 1 star means it is in one of the most obvious places you could look. 5 stars means it is so well camouflaged it may only be luck that you find it.

Size – How big is the cache. The sizes are: Micro, from a Nano ‘tic-tack’ size to a packet of chewing gum. Small, about the size of a mobile phone, Regular, about the size of a lunch box, Large, about the size of a football.
Caches hidden in cities are usually of micro size, and magnetic, where as out in the forest they are a lot larger.

Types of Caches

There are several different types of cache styles of hides. They include:

Traditional Cache – to original and most common type of cache where the listed location is where the cache container, complete with some sort of log to sign, and possibly some swaps, is located

Multi-Cache - involves two or more locations where the final location is where the physical container is. Most Multi-Caches have either a hint in a preliminary cache or there is information at that location, that can be found on a sign or plaque etc, which gives the needed details to find the next stop.

Mystery / Puzzle Cache - may involve complicated puzzles that you will first need to solve to determine the coordinates.

EarthCache - a place that people can visit to learn about a unique feature of our Earth or landmark. You may be required to answer a question about the location, take a picture, complete a task, etc before you log your visit.

Clever Hides

There are many clever ways Geocaches are hidden. Sometimes it’s just inside a tree stump, or behind a tree trunk under a pile of sticks. Other times they are magnetic and on street signs , railings or under chairs. Sometime the person who hides the cache goes to a lot of effort to either camouflage the cache container, such as covering with bark, moss or leaves, and others go even further, making fake taps that pull out of a brick wall, in fake sprinkler heads in the grass, inside fake tree branches, fake rocks or inside hollowed out bolts. There’s no end to the creativity of some geocaches. You have to be very patient, observant and thorough to find some caches. The whole ideas of this website, CleverHides.com,  is to showcase some of the most clever geocache hides in the world!

Trackables

A trackable is usually a specially made coin (a Geocoin) or dog tag (a Travel Bug) with a unique serial number on them. They are given a ‘mission’ and put into a cache. If someone finds a trackable in a cache, they can take it but must move it to another cache that matches with it mission – NEVER KEEP IT!
A mission may be to visit every Disney theme park in the world, visit as many countries as possible, go a far and fast as possible ( in a race with another person’s trackable) or to visit as many cemeteries as possible.
When a trackable is picked up or put in a cache, it should be logged at www.geocaching.com/track . There you can also see how far it has travelled and a map of where it has been around the world so far. Trackables rack up thousands and thousands of kilometres.

Getting Started

Here’s the best way to get started with your Geocaching

Step 1. Making Login
Visit geocaching.com and create a free account. Choose your login name wisely as that will be the name you need to sign in all the geocache logs. Don’t pick anything too long, or too embarrassing, to have to write in each log.

Step 2. Decide on a searching device/method
If you have a hand-held GPS device then you can use that, if you have a smart phone with GPS capabilities, like an iPhone, you can use that – download/pay for the official Geocaching app and your set. Otherwise you can find many caches by using the clues, maps and aerial photography on the website – without any need for a GPS device. Or you can go with a friend who does have a GPS device. I highly recommend the smart phone apps for a number of reasons. See here.

Step 3. Go for it!
First, check out the map view at geocaching.com/map , or on your smart phone app’s map view, and see where there are some caches you can get to. Choose one that has a difficulty rating less than 3 stars to begin with, until you get into the grove of searching for these sometimes very sneakily hidden containers. And I mean VERY sneaky!

Step 4. Log it
Once found, at a minimum write your name in the cache’s log book, even better log your find on Geocaching.com or on your smart phone app.

Step 5. Launching
After you have got used to how these are hidden, why not find an interesting place or way to hide your own for others to begin searching for! Also, consider buying and launching out into the world some Trackables and give them a special mission.

Geocache Acronyms

A quick word on some acronyms and caching terms you might see or want to use in logs:
  • Muggle – Someone who doesn’t know about geocacheing
  • Muggled - cache has been removed or vandalized by a non-geocacher
  • DNF – Did Not Find
  • FTF – First To Find
  • GPS – Global Positioning System, (or the receiver itself)
  • TFTC – Thanks For The Cache
  • TN – Took Nothing
  • LN – Left Nothing
  • SL –Signed Log
  • GZ – Ground Zero (the general area in which a cache is hidden)

Geocaching Tips

Here are some tips for new geocaches to help your searching if you’re having trouble finding geocaches:
  1. Caches generally should not be buried, in a dangerous place or on private property.
  2. Look for a ‘trail’ in the grass, left by the numerous other geocaches, that may lead you to the location
  3. Think about how big it is noted to be and how hard the terrain is noted to be to get to it.
  4. Read the geocache’s description carefully for clues, use the hint it may have, read the logs people have written, look at the aerial photo to see if you’re in the right spot.
  5. Remember, things can be magnetic, hanging or be made to look like something else but are hollow (like a fake rock or pine cone).
  6. DON’T ASSUME ANYTHING!
    - Don’t assume you found the best hiding place but it’s gone.
    - Don’t assume you GPS has taken you to the exact place, look around a little.
    - Don’t assume an empty container you found was the cache.
    - if three or four people have not found it before you, don’t assume it’s gone missing.
  7. Go with someone else, the extra sets of eyes helps a lot.

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