After the success of Pokémon Go, Augmented Reality (AR) has been growing in popularity, and more and more people are looking for new games to play using this technology. This has also led to the revival of Niantic’s first AR game, Ingress. However, although these games got people out and about, there is one older app for your phone that achieves similar. This app is called Geocaching. If you’ve ever wondered how to Geocache in Ireland (or in general!) then this guide is for you.
What is Geocaching?
The idea behind Geocaching is about going out and exploring your area and discovering new things. It does this by having users go out and find small capsules, called “Geocaches” or “Caches” for short. These Geocaches are hidden by other users. Each cache is a dead drop, a technique used by spies – and later by criminals. If you remember those old spy movie scenes where one person leaves a brown envelope taped to the underside of a park bench, and another person comes by later to pick it up, you have witnessed a crude version of a dead drop. If you’re interested, read on!
To get started, first, download the app from the Google Play store or the Apple App store. Alternatively, you can go to their website here for full instructions. From there, you can create your profile and get started on Geocaching!
First Geocaching Outing
When you log in, you are greeted with a map. On this map, you will see many circles of different colours. Each colour indicates a different type of cache.
- Green – Traditional
- Orange – Multi-Cache
- Red – Events
- Light Blue – Virtual / Cache-less Geocaches
- Dark Blue – Puzzles
To access these Geocaches, you must upgrade your account except for some of the Traditional Caches. The Traditional Caches with a difficulty of 2 and below are free to find. Once you complete a cache, the icon turns to a smiley face. Once you find a cache, it is complete, even after your subscription runs out.
When you click on a Cache, a menu comes up. From this menu, you can find the Cache’s info, load the location into Google Map, or mark it as complete. The info includes a description, which I would recommend reading, as it gives you some background to the Cache, history of the area and, sometimes, a small hint. On the bottom of most Caches, it will remind you to BYOP (Bring Your Own Pen) and to watch out for Muggles. “Muggle” is the name given to the people who don’t take part in Geocaching. However, be warned, you will get some strange looks from Muggles when you’re on your hands and knees reaching into a bush or under a bridge! If you want to learn more of the terms and acronyms used in Geocaching, you can check out the glossary here.
Finding a Geocache
After you find a Geocache, open it up and take out the paper inside. If it’s a small cache, usually an old film canister, it will only contain the paper. You should sign this page with the pen you brought and put down the date, before placing the cache carefully back where you found it. Don’t move the cache from the location you found it or take it home. This will be very annoying for the next Geocacher who tries to find the cache. Remember to follow the Geocacher’s Creed.
After you replace the Geocache, mark it completed in the app. Make sure no Muggles saw you place it back without explaining what Geocaching is. They may investigate it themselves and cause the Cache to go missing.
If you found a larger Geocache, usually a lunch box, there may be other items alongside the paper. People usually leave an item in the larger caches. If you take an item, please replace it with another to keep the Cache going.
Now you are ready to go out and Geocache. Wherever there is a landmark, there is usually a Geocache. Remember to look inside bricks and in the ivy. BYOP and remember to keep an eye out for Muggles!