I'm not quite sure how I came across this topic but actually I find it absolutely interesting, challenging and most of all a great fun for the family and friends. The interesting part is for sure that you can follow other peoples treasures and their preferred locations where a cache might be hidden. Of course, it wont be easy to find a cache after all. Sometimes there are even 'mystery caches' which have either riddles, further instructions or little brain games for you in order to find the actual cache - that's the challenge. And last but not least, those caches are hidden outdoor. A great experience to explore nature either on your own, or your family especially with children, or as a treasure hunting pack with a couple of friends.
What is geocaching?
It's a high-tech outdoor treasure hunting game that's a great way to explore the world with friends, family or on your own. Participants use GPS-enabled devices to locate hidden containers called geocaches.
There are over one million geocaches hidden around the world today, waiting for you to find them. Visit Geocaching.com to search for geocaches near you.
(Source: Referral Email of geocaching.com)
Checkout the Geocaching 101 for further details and information. They also provide a video channel on YouTube.
Which equipment do I need?
Any GPS-enabled device is sufficient to go onto the hunt. I'm going to start our geocaching experience equipped with my Samsung Galaxy Tab. Additionally, I installed a geocaching.com client called c:geo that hopefully assists me soon. Combined with a map app like Google Maps and a nice Compass app you should be fully equipped and ready to go. I guess, that even a car navigation system is perfect for that task.
Later on, with more experience and demand for technology (or precision) it might be interesting to opt-in for a pure GPS device, like a Garmin or any other brand on the market.
What is a geocache and what does it contain?
In its simplest form, a cache always contains a logbook or logsheet for you to log your find. Larger caches may contain a logbook and any number of items. These items turn the adventure into a true treasure hunt. You never know what the cache owner or visitors to the cache may have left for you to enjoy. Remember, if you take something, leave something of equal or greater value in return. It is recommended that items in a cache be individually packaged in a clear, zipped plastic bag to protect them from the elements.
Finding your first geocache
Well, first you have to have interest to pick up the challenge. Then you have to check out the Geocache directory on geocaching.com. They have recommendations for beginner's caches but you are free to choose any. Actually, we have a Mystery Cache very close to our base, and I guess that we are going for that one on our first trip. Anyway, there is a very informative guide on the website which should answer all your questions about starting your new outdoor adventure.
For sure, it's going to be rewarding.
Team up with friends and family
Especially as a beginner there might be misunderstandings in handling the GPS coordinates, the compass, or the map, and even finding the container at the documented position isn't easy in the first place. Luckily, there are logbook reports online from other hunters, and most of the time there are even 'spoiler' images available.
But also bear in mind, that a geocache might have been removed or is lost due to unconscious people or whatever other reasons. Don't be disappointed in case that you can't find anything... There be nothing anymore. A general recommendation in this case would be to replace the missing container with a new one, and give feedback to the original owner about the state of that particular location. After all, it's about fun and active participation in a world-wide community.
Geocaches in Mauritius?
Yes, there are currently about 45 geocaches spread all over the island, and even a single in Rodriguez - that's gonna be a tough one. Hopefully, we will get increasing numbers as Geocaching.com allows, no better, even encourages you to hide new containers at your locations of choice. I think this is going to be real fun for us during the upcoming weeks and months. Especially, when we are travelling to other countries and transfer so-called trackable items between geocaches.
On my first impression, Geocaching.com seems to be very mature, open and community-oriented. There are literally hundreds of thousands geocache 'hunters' all over the world. And usually finding a container remote from your home is very rewarding.
I'll keep you updated in these matters during the next months to come...