What is Geocaching

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.


10 Tips for Approaching Mysterys in Geocaching

That’s it you put a few smiles on your Geocaching map, but you do not know how to approach these caches with the blue question mark? Follow these simple tips to log your first Mystery:

  • Choose your geocaching difficulty carefully

Mysterys are, like Traditional caches, rated by their degree of difficulty from 1 to 5. Do not necessarily go to the cache closest to you, start with a cache of small difficulty and whose theme inspires you.

  • Check in the logs that the announced difficulty is consistent

Be aware that it is the owner who evaluates the difficulty of the Mystery. It is therefore possible that the difficulty score is undervalued. If many logs report this problem, the Mystery may be more difficult than expected.

  • Prefer at first a Mystery that can be solved from home

Some Mysterys require you to take clues on the spot. This step can sometimes be difficult for the beginner Geocacher or not. Prefer a simpler puzzle that you can solve quietly at home.

  • Choose a Mystery where you can control your result

Some Mystery come with a link to the “Geochecker” or “Certainty” sites. This link allows you to confirm the accuracy of the final contact information. This is an important aspect that will save you time on the field research part.

  • Keep an electronic record of your research and work from a computer.

You have chosen your Mystery according to the above criteria, perfect! Bookmark the page because you will need to come back to it, so save time. Create a text document that you will name with the GC cache code, in it copy and paste the original descriptions, subscript and coordinates of the cache. Keep your research path, and indicate each false lead. If you block, move on, your document will be waiting for you for new hypotheses.

  • Keep in mind what you are looking for

Some puzzles will require calculations of coordinate formulas, others will be literary games where you will have to find a word and submit it to a “Certainty” page. If you format your formulas correctly in your text document, you can copy and paste them into your computer’s calculator for quick resolution. Last thing, sometimes the question can be located lower than the description in the waypoints area.

  • D-code and toolbox sites are intimidating, tame them!

Many Mystery use more or less complicated encryption systems. The challenge is often to recognize the system, because then a simple copy and paste of the encrypted text will give you the solution. The Caesar and Morse codes are popular with beginner Mystery, as is the alphabetical rank (A=1; Z=26). By dint of habit, you will have more and more intuition on the encryption used!

  • Appeal to the community

You’ll need clues in your early days and it turns out that the Geocaching community is very welcoming. You will find help in the forums and Facebook group, from the owner or an experienced geocacher with whom you have sympathized. Two important points: be polite and courteous and never ask or publish the solution of a riddle! In addition, you will certainly be denied help on a cache whose FTF has not been made.

  • Do you have a credible hypothesis?

Don’t forget to check your answer in the Geochecker or on Certainty. The owner may have left additional instructions or clues as well as a spoiler photo. Copy and paste this information on your text document (see 5-).

  • Prepare your visit to the field

Did you know that you can correct cache coordinates from your browser? By clicking on the pencil next to the coordinates at the top of the page, you will be able to enter the ones you have just decoded. The final coordinates will appear as a puzzle piece in a blue circle in your app. You can also download the spoiler photo on your smartphone for more efficiency in the field… especially if the network is non-existent.

Visit geocaching.com or more info