Cape Town – Experiencing adventures similar to Indiana Jones – doesn’t that sound appealing?
Well, not exactly like Indy, since you will not have to run away from giant boulders or taste exotic dishes, or discover historic or valuable artefacts.
But geocaching offers a fun GPS scavenger hunt in town, the mountains or in the open countryside. And the good news is that you do not need a degree in archaeology to go treasure hunting, and it is basically for free.
The concept of geocaching started in 2000 when the US government descrambled GPS signals, which made GPS devices 10 times more accurate.
Dave Ulmer, from Oregon, intended to test how precise GPS devices were. He hid a container, marked the co-ordinates, published the information online and invited anyone to find it.
Three days later, someone detected the container – which was the beginning of geocaching.
Four months later in September 2000, the website geocaching.com was launched. Back then, 75 geocaching locations were available and now, 15 years later, more that 2.5 million geocaches are hidden worldwide.
South Africa’s first geocache appeared in January 2001 in the Silvermine section of the Cape Peninsula National Park.
“Geocaching offers families a powerful tool to get outside and explore the world around them.
“There’s something in all our DNA that wants to see what’s around the next corner or over the next hill.
“Geocaching is the tool people use to power that adventure,” said Eric Schudiske, the public relations manager for Geocaching.
To join the geocaching community, one has to register online. A basic membership is free and suitable for beginners. Once logged in, all you need is a smartphone application or GPS device to trace objects based on co-ordinates.
The aim of the game is to sign a logbook inside the hidden object, which can be anything from a test tube to a shoe carton, log the cache online and replace the object for other treasure hunters.
Schudiske said: “Geocaching offers different types of adventures based on how you solve them and what you find. You discover cleverly hidden containers at traditional, mystery, multicache, wherigo and letter box hybrid geocaches. Each geocache offers a living history of a location, and families who find that geocache play a small part in that history.”
The mysterious types often involve complicated puzzles that need to be solved to determine the correct co-ordinates.
Multicaches consist of at least two different locations, with the final co-ordinates being the physical container including the logbook. Wherigos allow geocachers to interact with elements, while letter-boxing uses clues instead of co-ordinates.
Pack your hat, satchel and bullwhip – or rather your cap, picnic basket and GPS device and explore your hometown or another city from a different angle. Let the treasure hunt of the 21st century begin.