So, what is geocaching? The tension rises when, smartphone in hand, a group of children walks in the forest in the direction of “the old lonely”, the only indication of direction available to young adventurers. Coming out of the woods, they discover amazed, before their eyes, a magnificent panorama of the Pyrenees chain still sprinkled with snow. A first treasure of discovery!
But the hundred-year-old walnut tree (the famous “old lonely”) awaits them a few meters away, on the edge of a field. Each child starts circling in search of the “cache”. It will not take them long to discover it, hidden from uninformed eyes, in a hole under a root: a small waterproof box that contains a pen and a “logbook”, a small register that lists the geocachers who have managed to discover the hiding place. The children are happy to be able to put their names on this list before putting the cache back in its place. This small expedition of “geocaching” lasted only an hour, but it will certainly have brought a scent of adventure to the hike.
At a time when local tourism and micro-adventures are announced as the trends of this summer, geocaching is one of the innovative tools to discover a destination in a fun and high-tech way.
Presentation of this hobby with growing success and territories that have already seized the phenomenon.
What is Geocaching
The story of Geocaching begins on May 1, 2000 when the US government allows civilian GPS to have an accuracy of a few meters, against several tens of meters previously. Prior to this decision, their details were deliberately degraded for reasons of military security.
To test the new possibilities of his GPS, the American Dave Ulmer decides, just 2 days later, to hide a box in an Oregon forest and publish the GPS coordinates on a discussion group on the Internet. Faced with the success of his initiative, he decided a few months later to create a site to distribute the new “caches” that he gradually set up. The geocaching.com site is launched and with it the global expansion of this new generation treasure hunt.
A high-tech treasure hunt
Geocaching therefore consists of using the functions of GPS (Satellite Geopositioning) to search for or hide “caches” in various places around the world.
Such success can be explained by several factors:
- everyone can participate in Geocaching, because there are several levels of difficulty: the geocaching.com site has its own cache rating system with a scale ranging from 1 to 5 stars for the cache (a star being a very simple cache and 5 stars a cache requiring a lot of thought and research) + a rating scale related to the terrain (T1 for a flat or wheelchair accessible place to T5 for a location requiring special equipment, such as mountaineering or diving equipment for example).
- it’s a free activity; if there is a paid Premium version on the geocaching.com site that allows you to unlock special “caches”, the GPS coordinates of the majority of caches are available free of charge after registration
- It is possible to go in search of caches 365 days / year, at any time of the day or night
- This makes it possible to give a goal to a walk of afew kilometers, in the mountains, in the forest, in the city … by discovering a place in which we would not necessarily have gone
- There are nowcaches almost everywhere in France: so you can often get started by leaving directly from home.