What is a Geocache?

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

A geocache is a container holding a logbook and a collection of other items located at a specific geographic location. The coordinates of the location are released so people can track down the geocache in a process known as geocaching. Geocaching is a popular activity worldwide and there are a number of websites that collect and publish coordinates, including puzzle or mystery coordinates that require people to solve a puzzle in order to tease out the correct coordinates for a cache.

Woman waving
Woman waving

Typically, waterproof containers are used for a geocache. At a minimum, the container will provide a logbook and writing utensil so that when someone finds it, an entry can be added. People can list the date and time of the find, their names, and where they come from. Over time, the information in the logbook can include travelers from all over the world who have successfully located the geocache.

It is also traditional to leave small items in the geocache. Visitors can remove items as souvenirs as long as they replace them with items of equal value. In rarer cases, as when a geocache is located in a very challenging location, the person who originally prepares it may leave a more valuable item as a reward for the first person who finds it. Geocaches can also contain “travel bugs,” objects that are designed to move from cache to cache, rather than being retained by finders.

Travel bugs have a tag with information that can be cross-referenced with a geocaching website. Someone who finds a travel bug can remove it, update the log, and then check a website to see if there is a specific goal for the travel bug. For example, a geocacher in China might hide a travel bug with the goal of having it eventually reach Germany. Geocachers can move the bug from place to place to move it along its journey.

Geocaching requires a global positioning system device that will allow people to precisely pinpoint geographic coordinates. Some caches are located in spots that are easy to access, such as coffeehouses or sites just off the road. For others, climbing, swimming, and other physical challenges may be required to get to the cache. Many geocachers keep logs of their activities and some blog about their hunts for new caches, networking with other members of the community through their websites and on the forums at geocaching sites.

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a wiseGEEK researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

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