It seems it was a concept only developed 10 years ago when the US government ‘removed selective availability’ so you can now swap GPS coordinates of what ever you want. With sat navs such as Garmins, coordinates of little plastic containers can be downloaded and we can now swap Christmas cracker tat with complete strangers to our hearts content, after a good old forage in the countryside.
More than 4 million people geocache in nearly every country on Earth. Geocachers are families with children, retired individuals and grandparents, hikers, explorers, and outdoors-people. As we seem to fit into most of the ‘younger’ categories we thought we’d give it ago.
Having registered on the official Geocaching site we thought we’d try locally before hitting it full force on holiday. We were amazed with how many there were in Kent and bagged 6 on out first day. Registering and joining is free and it has the added benefit of encouraging kids to walk for miles.
Coming to Chamonix we’ve identified 16 within 2 miles of the flat. The hunting has already kept us busy for parts of our first few days, but we’ve learnt lots:
- Check out the finding clues for each cache before you set out, photos and hints can be invaluable. In the UK you can google them on a smartphone of course, but this gets rather expensive when overseas…
- Have a GPX foot path map of the local area if possible, not just road maps, as something that looks close when flying as a crow can be surprisingly far/dangerous if not on proper paths.
- Don’t get fooled by ‘earthcaches’ unless you are prepared to do all the forfeits and answer daft questions. We down loaded the coordinates for everything local and wasted quite some time on the way to the Bossons Glacier looking for an earthcache which wasn’t a box in situ but instead expected you to answer questions, take photos and email photos before you could ‘claim it’. Of course we only realised this when we got home…
- Don’t forget to take a pen and write a little note in the box just to say thanks.
- Go armed with plenty of small swappable items like badges, key rings, go go crazy bones, small figurines etc.. We’ve seen/picked up necklaces, packs of playing cards, packs of felt tip pens, marbles etc.
- Avoid leaving food items that animals might eat the box for.
- Look out for the trackable geocoins. This is a proper old fashioned chain letter type of thing and you can see which countries it has travelled and decide where to take it to next.
- Don’t feel that your pleasant walk/hike has failed because you haven’t found every Tupperware box indicated on the GPX!! 🙂
We’ve had great fun so far and done many a scramble to find a little plastic box which contributes to the little bits at the bottom of the kids ‘toy box. The views have also been rather spectacular.
Here is a picture of our first French find in Les Gaillands, La belle et la bete.
We’re team name Barratscham so please say hi when you pass us.